January 3, 2007, 12 years ago Thursday, then-Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban (after weeks of direct denials) did in fact resign and go become the head coach at the University of Alabama.
And the fortunes of the NFL team in South Florida and the SEC powerhouse have gone opposite directions for over a decade.
First, Saban was only a moderate success in Miami going 15 – 17. His first year was promising at 9 and 7, but then, the team dipped to 6-10 in year two with rumors everywhere that he would return to the college game. That’s because, he had successfully coached at Michigan State and then at LSU, where the Tigers had won the 2003 National Championship.
Sure enough, the Crimson Tide came calling and Saban took the job. And, after years of struggling for national relevance, Alabama was guided to its first national title by Saban in 2009. They have one four more titles, since then, including two of the last three College Football Playoff Championships.
There is no disputing the Saban is the greatest modern-day college football coach of all time with that resume’ above.
There is also no disputing that the Dolphins the continued on an odyssey of losing and trying to figure out their next great coach might be.
Miami hired Bill Parcells to run their football operations and he hired the late Tony Sparano to be the next coach. Miami did win the AFC East 2008, however, Sparano faltered his last couple of seasons, finishing with a 29 – 32 record and was fired in the middle of 2011.
Former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin was hired in 2012, and never made the playoffs with the 24 – 28 record before being fired himself, early in the 2015 season. And, the most recent full-time head coach, Adam Gase, did have the team in the playoffs his first year of 2016 before two losing seasons that got him terminated on Monday.
So if you weren’t keeping track with all of that above, Miami has hired and fired four head coaches with only two playoff appearances in the 12 years since Saban’s departure.
Look. Nobody is suggesting that Saban would have had widespread success in the NFL. In fact most of his success in college is due to him being almost “the dictator” in charge of everything in Tuscaloosa, and that doesn’t work with pro athletes.
However, no one can dispute that his decision to go back to college football and specifically, Alabama, has turned into arguably the greatest decision by any coach to go to any program in history.
When you consider that with Urban Meyer’s retirement, there is no other current college coach with at least two national championships and the 67 year old Saban is going for his seventh one overall and 6th at Alabama in 12 years, that’s pretty amazing.
It all happened because he no longer wanted to coach the Miami Dolphins 12 years ago this week.
Bama QB Tua Tagovailoa present to start NFL combine
The NFL Scouting Combine is getting underway in Indianapolis this week and on Monday morning, one of the prized quarterbacks that will be available early in the first round of the draft was there for official measurements and to meet with teams.
Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, whose season ended with a fractured hip last November, is on the road to recovery and he was officially measured and also, met with numerous teams that are looking at the possibility of drafting him:
Tua Tagovailoa measured at 6-0, 217 pounds at the NFL combine today. Left throwing hand at 10”
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) February 24, 2020
In addition to not only the injured hip, but also a history of high ankle sprain problems, Tagovailoa has got to answer critics on his size. At just 6 – 0 feet there will be concerns about his ability to clearly see downfield through the massive bodies on NFL Sundays.
However, this can be combated by moving him around out of the pocket and that’s something that Alabama was successful at doing over his three years as well.
As we wrote recently, Tagovailoa was injured in Alabama’s 10th game of the season suffering a fractured hip on a sack late in the first half at Mississippi State. He missed the Tide’s final two regular-season games and then, their Citrus Bowl win January 1st, over Michigan
He came to Alabama from Hawaii and the same high school as Marcus Mariota, having thrown for over 8,000 yards which at that time was a Hawaii High School record. And, he had a career of 84 passing and 27 rushing touchdowns in three seasons.
Tua burst onto the scene nationally, when he relieved Jalen Hurts in the second half and overtime of Alabama’s thrilling title game win over Georgia in the 2018 College Football Playoff Championship Game. Tagovailoa threw the game-winning touchdown pass on the first overtime possession, as Alabama celebrated their fifth National Title in nine seasons under Saban.
In his second season at the helm in the 2018 regular season, Tagovailoa was named second-team AP All-American and was a Heisman Trophy finalist, as the Tide reached the National Title game, again, before being beaten soundly by Clemson 12 months ago.
As this junior season unfolded, Tagovailoa was named almost became synonymous with the Dolphins, who started the season horribly at 0 – 7 and the moniker “Tank for Tua” began to gain momentum in South Florida.
Tagovailoa is obviously on the Dolphins list to look at strongly to select in the top five in the draft and currently, Miami is slated to pick fifth.
It is expected that Tagovailoa will work out for teams probably later in March or maybe even, early April at the Tide’s facility in Tuscaloosa, prior to the NFL draft coming to Las Vegas.
Colorado announced hire of Dolphins assistant Dorrel Sunday
Former UCLA coach and recently promoted Dolphins assistant Karl Dorrell is headed back to college, as the new head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes.
The school confirmed Dorrell’s hire on Sunday evening with a five-year contract to take over their Big 12 program:
We'd like to officially introduce you to our new HC, Karl Dorrell.
— Colorado Buffaloes Football (@CUBuffsFootball) February 23, 2020
The Buffaloes have been seeking a head coach since there coach Mel Tucker abruptly left to take the Michigan State job earlier this month.
Dorrell came to the dolphins with Brian Flores this past season, as wide receiver coach and earlier last week was promoted to assistant head coach for the upcoming season. Miami’s top receiver, DeVante Parker, blossomed under Dorrell’s tutelage as the year went on. He finished the season with 72 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns becoming the favorite target of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Dorrel is the latest Dolphins assistant on the move. Flores fired the offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea he brought with him from New England. And, his defensive coordinator Patrick Graham left to take the same job with the Giants.
Dorrell had also been the Dolphins receivers coach, previously from 2008 – 10 and then, their quarterbacks coach in 2011 under the late Tony Sparano.
“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”
The CU Board of Regents still have to approve Dorrell’s contract, which will be $18 million for five seasons.
Dorrell had previously been on Colorado staffs two other times in his career, including most recently as offensive coordinator under Rick Neuheisel from 1995- 98.
Dorrell was named head coach of his alma mater UCLA in 2003, where he lasted five seasons and went to a bowl game every year finishing with a career 35 – 27 record before being fired after the 2007 season.
Dorrell had previously been receivers coach for the New York Jets 2015 – 18 under Todd Bowles (above) and two of his receivers had made the Pro Bowl during his time there.
Colorado picked Dorrell from an interview process that also included former Buffaloes player and Kansas City Super Bowl offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, who interviewed and was under strong consideration.