The Miami Dolphins appeared to make the most shocking move Monday when they fired head coach Brian Flores. But the assumption that Flores' firing paves the way for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh to replace Flores isn't correct, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said after announcing Flores' departure.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross:
"I'm not going to be the person to take Jim Harbaugh from the University of Michigan. I hope he stays there."
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) January 10, 2022
Ross is a Michigan graduate, where the business school is named after him, and a major donor and supporter of the Wolverines' football program.
These were Ross' first major public comments in nearly two years. So unless Ross is engaging in semantics gymnastics, we have to take him at his word that Harbaugh isn't coming to South Beach. That belief is backed up by a report from ESPN's Jeff Darlington.
While I realize many are assuming Flores’ departure is tied to Harbaugh’s potential availability, I can assure you that is not the case. The Dolphins are not targeting Jim Harbaugh, per sources. The decision to fire Flores is entirely independent.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) January 10, 2022
More likely, Ross believed that Flores no longer had strong enough relationships with other key players in the organization — we'd assume that includes QB Tua Tagovailoa and general manager Chris Grier.
“I made a decision today to part ways with Brian Flores,” Ross said. “After evaluating where we are as an organization and what we need going forward to improve, I determined that key dynamics of our football organization weren’t functioning at a level I want it to be and felt that this decision was in the best interest of the Miami Dolphins.”
Grier will return. Tagovailoa could, too, although Ross said the next head coach will have say in who the starting quarterback is. It might not be Deshaun Watson now, considering Flores has been let go.
The #Dolphins firing Brian Flores likely resets the Deshaun Watson landscape pretty significantly. Flores was very much a driving force behind that interest & the tandem of Flores/Grier was a part of what made Watson willing to waive his no trade to Miami. Everything has changed.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) January 10, 2022
That next coach apparently will not be Harbaugh.
If not Harbaugh, then who? Ross said he had no single candidate in mind but that the team will not begin the process in earnest to find Flores' replacement.
Harbaugh also has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the jobs of the Las Vegas Raiders and Chicago Bears. The Raiders made the playoffs following a dramatic overtime win in Week 18 over the Los Angeles Chargers and have yet to announce the fate of interim coach Rich Bisaccia. The Bears fired head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace on Monday.