The Miami Dolphins had the most surprising firing of the head coaching cycle, parting ways with Brian Flores despite Flores being the first head coach since the merger to start a season 1-7 and finish with a winning record. While Flores went 24-25 in his three seasons with Miami (including 24-18 in his final 42 games), the Dolphins decided to part ways with the first coach to lead the team to consecutive winning seasons since Dave Wannstedt.
Miami owner Stephen Ross may have fired Flores in pursuit of a candidate his organization has courted for years -- Jim Harbaugh. The Dolphins tried to hire Harbaugh from Stanford back in 2011 before he ultimately ended up with the San Francisco 49ers, as Ross was willing to make Harbaugh the highest-paid head coach in the NFL.
Will Ross decide to court Harbaugh once again? The circumstances are a bit different this time around.
"I'm not going to be the person who takes Jim Harbaugh away from Michigan," Ross said Monday morning, via Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post. "I hope he stays there. He's a great coach."
Ross is a huge donor to the University of Michigan, his alma mater, and the connection with Harbaugh is strong. While Ross may not want to poach Harbaugh, what if Harbaugh wanted to coach the Dolphins -- whether it's leverage to get more money from Michigan or not?
Harbaugh is no stranger to success in the NFL, going 44-19-1 in four seasons as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers won the NFC championship in the 2012 season and reached the conference championship game for three consecutive seasons (2011 to 2013), as Harbaugh compiled a .695 win percentage in the regular season -- fifth on the all-time list for coaches that have coached for four seasons. Harbaugh left for Michigan after the 49ers finished 8-8 in 2014, going 61-24 for the Wolverines and a Big Ten championship with a College Football Playoff appearance this past season -- yet is 0-3 in New Year's Six bowl games.
Harbaugh appears to be the crown jewel of this NFL coaching cycle, if he's enticed to leave Michigan. The 58-year old Harbaugh will certainly have a picking of any NFL job he wants amongst the franchises looking for a head coach.