Tony Sparano is entering his 14th season coaching in the NFL—five seasons spent on the Dallas Cowboys staff and eight subsequent years with the Miami Dolphins. During his tenure in Dallas, Sparano ascended from the rank of tight ends coach to eventually being named assistant head coach. In 2008, Sparano was appointed head coach of the Miami Dolphins succeeding Cam Cameron who led the Dolphins to a franchise-worst 1-15 mark the season prior.
In his first season at the helm in Miami, Sparano guided the Dolphins to an 11-5 regular season record as the team's 10-win turnaround tied an NFL record. The Dolphins won the AFC division title and secured their first playoff berth in seven seasons eventually falling in the wildcard-round to the Baltimore Ravens. In 2009 and 2010, Miami finished in third place in the AFC East with back-to-back 9-7 campaigns. Sparano was fired on December 12, 2011, following a 4-9 record and was replaced by Todd Bowles for the remainder of the season.
"My overall offensive philosophy, first of all, is that when you look at offense, you have to make sure that the system fits the players that you have, said newly appointed Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. "This is a physical football team and it's one of the reasons that I think Rex and I have come together here and he gave me this great opportunity to come here. This is a physical football team. I like playing a physical style of offense. I think anybody that knows me knows that I want to be physical."
"We'll be explosive, we'll be able to get it down the field and we'll be able to do all those things, but I learned a lesson a long time ago about how you win and lose in this league. I believe that you have to have some element of running the football."
Sparano was the focal point of an ugly divorce down in South Beach. At the end of the 2010 season, with Sparano still under contract, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross along with general manager Jeff Ireland flew across the country to interview then Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. Numerous media outlets reported that Ross also spoke with former NFL coaches John Gruden and Bill Cowher about the not yet vacant head coaching job.
On January 8, 2011, the Dolphins shockingly awarded Sparano a two-year contract extension with Ross giving a vote of confidence for Sparano as the long-term solution at head coach. On December 12, 2011, Sparano was fired as the Miami Dolphins head coach ending a tumultuous relationship with Miami's ownership group.
Did You know?:
At age 17, Sparano eyes were burned by a fryer while working at a fast food restaurant chain. Ever since the incident his eyes are ultra sensitive to light forcing him to wear his signature sunglasses even at night.