When Tony Sparano was hired, the only thing I knew about him as a fan was the corny spoof on his name sounding like Tony Soprano on ESPN Countdown.
At the time he was a little known coach of America’s team-the Dallas Cowboys.
Not only was Sparano little known, he happened to be coaching with Bill Parcells after coaching at New Haven.
Sparano, however, while cutting his teeth with the Cowboys as an offensive line coach happened to be hand picked by a gentleman Dolphins fans would prefer to forget-Jeff Ireland-then an Assistant in the scouting department for the Cowboys.
Here was Tony Sparano and while Miami beat reporters wanted to know his backstory, fans wondered openly if he was just another “yes man” spun in the web of Bill Parcells, football czar of the Dolphins.
Enter week 3 of the 2008 season, Dolphins and Patriots and the birth of the Wildcat.
Despite some painful losses to start the season, the Sparano Dolphins were big and tough and Chad Pennington looked like the real QB the Dolphins were seeking.
However, it was former Dolphin coach Nick Saban who had drafted a running back out of Auburn named Ronnie Brown. Until this point, the role for Brown was always catching passes out of the backfield and going on some long runs, but this time, he led the offense as a QB in the WildCat-an offense predicated on a running back running the ball on a draw play-direct snap or throwing a pass.
Credit goes to quarterbacks coach David Lee for concocting the plan with Sparano on the team flight after a tough road loss.