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Remember when...the Miami Dolphins hired Tony Sparano?

Remember When: A look back at Miami Dolphins history through the eyes of The Phinsider

After the disaster that was the 2007 season, change was in the air. Gone were the men who orchestrated that disastrous season. And in was the man who was meant to turn this franchise around. No, Bill Parcells doesn't create championship football teams. But he's an expert at major reclamation projects. Nobody can turn a crappy team into an above average team quite like Bill.

From the moment he was hired in late December of 2007, the rumors began swirling about who Bill would tab as the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins. We all knew Cam Cameron was going to receive his walking papers. We all assumed Randy Mueller would go with him. After all, it wouldn't have made sense to bring in Parcells and not let him hand-pick his general manager and head coach.

Once Jeff Ireland was hired just after New Year's Day, the rumors really heated up regarding Cowboys assistant coach Tony Sparano. In fact, I even posted a nugget that I received from two trusted sources that claimed Sparano and the Dolphins already had a verbal agreement in place. But because of the number of rules that would have been broken by the Dolphins if this was the case, we'll never know for sure publicly if there was a "verbal" deal already in place.

When Tony Sparano was officially hired on January 16, there were two competing schools of thought that most believed to be true. One was that Sparano fell into a great situation because, as Dan Le Batard wrote, "Sparano will be given the time and patience and perspective that a Dolphins leader never gets. Mathematically, he can't be worse than what we just endured, so just about anything he does early will be viewed as improvement."

The other school of thought was that Sparano was stepping into what was a huge mess. Greg Stoda wrote for the Palm Beach Post:

Because anyone who thinks Sparano has landed in a soft spot is wrong. It'll be all but impossible for the Dolphins to be any worse than they were last season, but Sparano, working for The Great Parcells, will be asked to do something monumentally difficult working with a team with as little talent as Miami has on its roster.

He'll be asked to prove the Dolphins have promise.

The success will be measured most obviously in wins - four or five is a good guess for next season - but it will be measured most importantly in how effectively the Dolphins are restructured.

Being the pessimist that I used to be (a 1-15 season will do that), I fell more on the side of Stoda's line of thinking, writing, "Tony, despite inheriting a 1-15 team that lacks talent in many areas, hasn't landed in such a safe spot. We need to see progress. We need to see good game management and good play calling. And if we are all as unimpressed with Sparano as we were with Cameron, then this franchise could quite possibly hit an even lower rock bottom."

In my defense, nobody saw a quarterback like Chad Pennington becoming available. And nobody envisioned the Dolphins busting out an ancient offensive formation and using it to springboard a run to a division title.

So what did some of our Phinsider faithful say about Sparano's hiring back in 2008? Some comments from our community, as taken from this article on January 17, 2008:

I will judge Sparano by how well his team competes on the field. Are they prepared, in shape,and get better as the season goes forward. If they accomplish this in his first year I will be happy.
What is Sparano slogging into? unbelievable mess. As close to an expansion team as possible. Personally, what I am going to focus on is how he uses his weapons.
Just from hearing what other players, such as Jason Witten, had to say about Sparano and his departure, I am very excited about the leadership and respect he will bring to the Miami locker room.
The thing I'll be looking for out of Sparano is talent development, disciplined play, and improvement over the course of the season.

It's interesting that based on what we were saying in January of '08, Sparano has been a success. But the success of '08 raised expectations a bit too much. And now Sparano is coaching for his job.

It's like they say - the process of going from a good team to a great team is much more difficult than going from a bad team to a good team.