The first order of business for the 'Fins to address after the season is their (eventual) head coach vacancy. Tony Sparano will most definitely be fired, and Stephen Ross will do everything in his power to land the hottest name on the coaching carousel.
One name that has already drawn connections to the Dolphins is Bill Cowher.
Cowher's name carries the kind of luster that would attract Ross, but there are a slew of reasons why he isn't an ideal fit for the 'Fins.
Before we can truly begin to speculate about Cowher coming to Miami, we need some indication that he is open, willing, and leaning towards coaching in 2012.
However, all signs currently point to the contrary.
When reports linking Cowher and the 'Fins surfaced in October, he issued a straightforward response on CBS' NFL Sunday pregame show, "I do not plan on coaching next year.…I plan on being back in the same seat next year."
Bill Belichick annually rakes in $7.5 million, Mike Shanahan nets $7 million per season, and Pete Carroll pulls in $6.7 million each year.
If the Dolphins were to hire Bill Cowher, rest assured he would join the monetary ranks of these aforementioned names. But is Stephen Ross prepared to make such a substantial financial commitment to a head coach?
We know he has no hesitations opening up his wallet to improve the team, but Ross has to consider Miami's recent head coach roulette. Everybody thought Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, and Tony Sparano would be the coach to fill Don Shula's shoes, but none panned out.
Head coaches are on short leashes from the moment they are hired these days, so perhaps shelling out such a huge sum of money for one is no longer a wise move.
Sure, Bill Cowher has a Super Bowl ring. But so does Barry Switzer.
That isn't to say Cowher isn't a great coach. He is. But he shouldn't be overvalued just because he won a championship.
When he took over the Steelers head coaching gig in 1992, he inherited a team built by Hall of Fame legend Chuck Noll. Also, realize that it took Cowher 15 years to win a Super Bowl. Would he be afforded so much time in today's climate?
Again, Cowher is one of the greatest coaches of our generation, but he might not be the best candidate for a team with a rabidly impatient fan base.
Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg could both be appealing candidates for the Dolphins head coaching job
Historically, whenever the Dolphins are in the market for a head coach, they get whomever they want.
When Don Shula retired in 1995, Wayne Huizenga lured Jimmy Johnson out of his fishing boat and onto the sidelines. When Dave Wannstedt was ousted, Huizenga enticed Nick Saban to test pro waters. When Saban bolted for 'Bama, the Dolphins pinned Cam Cameron, who was a hotshot coordinator.
So there's no reason to believe that Stephen Ross will concentrate all of his efforts on Bill Cowher when he might not even be the hottest name on the market.
Coaches like Jon Gruden and Jeff Fischer might be up for grabs, Andy Reid could become available, and coordinators like Marty Mornhinweg and Joe Philbin will attract league-wide attention.
Pursuing a recently fired head coach or poaching a hotshot coordinator might be a better option than bringing in Cowher, who has been away from the game for five years.
Bill Cowher drafted a pair of noteworthy quarterbacks during his tenure in Pittsburgh: Kordell Stewart and Ben Roethlisberger.
Stewart had electrifying mobility and a cannon arm, but enjoyed only two winning seasons as the Steelers starting quarterback before he was converted to wide receiver. His career was ultimately a failure.
Meanwhile, Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl under Cowher, but those teams were anchored by dominant defenses and relentless rushing attacks. Plus, Big Ben didn't become statistically great until Mike Tomlin arrived in 2006.
The Dolphins need a coach who has a proven track record developing quarterbacks. Whoever they hire will be expected to draft a quarterback with the team's first round pick and turn him into a star. Unfortunately, Cowher might not be the best man for that job.
There are cases of NFL head coaches leaving the game and returning to prosperity (Dick Vermeil comes to mind), but there are more examples of coaches leaving and coming back to failure.
Coaches like Joe Gibbs, Dennis Green, and Jimmy Johnson all disappointed in their returns to the league, so how can we expect Cowher to make a seamless transition back into the game?
Throughout Cowher's 15 year tenure with the Steelers, his teams were typified by two things: dominant defenses and relentless rushing attacks.
Cowher always emphasized the run first, but that is no longer a viable scheme in the NFL.
The league has become pass-happy and pass-first. If Cowher returns he would have to alter his entire logic, and the results might not be very favorable.