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Courting Harbaugh

After consecutive 7-9 seasons in 2009 and 2010, Dolphins owner Steve Ross began to look over head coach Tony Sparano's shoulder -- or rather behind his back. Accompanied by GM Jeff Ireland, Ross visited then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh in California, intent on hiring him as the next coach of the Dolphins. Word of the visit, and a $40 million offer, to Harbaugh leaked out. When Harbaugh rejected the Dolphins' advances and accepted an offer from the San Francisco 49ers, a contrite Ross apologized to Sparano. The pair sat together awkwardly at a press conference on Jan. 8, 2011, announcing Sparanos contract extension. Sparano was fired with three games left in the 6-10 season. Harbaugh led the 49ers to a 49-22-1 record the next four years, reaching the NFC title game three times as well as Super Bowl XLVII.Sun Sentinel file