When Dolphins hired Cameron, Huizenga wondered aloud ‘Could this thing blow up on us?’

 

The Miami Dolphins’ coach search should go a lot smoother this time around than it did in 2007, when the worst hire in franchise history resulted from team owner Wayne Huizenga and his top assistants talking each other into Cam Cameron at the end of an exhaustive search.

You’d like to think it would go a lot smoother, anyway, given the fact that the Dolphins have had since Joe Philbin’s firing three months ago to think about which two or three candidates they are most interested in getting.

In 2007 Huizenga thought he was all set until Alabama started flirting with his head coach. Then, on Jan. 3, Nick Saban was gone.

111807 spt fins owls Staff photo by Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post--0045222A--Philadelphia, PA...Lincoln Financial Field..Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles..Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron studies his play list on fourth down and goal in the fourth quarter.

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron in 2007. (Photo by Allen Eyestone, Palm Beach Post)

The frantic rush to stop the bleeding led Huizenga and his staff to interview a dozen candidates over the next two weeks. Included in that rush was Huizenga flying the team plane to Costa Rica, where Pete Carroll, then the coach at USC, was vacationing.

Eventually a list of five finalists emerged – Cameron, the offensive coordinator at San Diego, plus Chan Gailey, Mike Shula, Dom Capers and Jim Mora, Jr.

When the choice finally was made, it was only after Dolphins executives met with Cameron in Davie, went home to sleep on it and returned in the morning to try to find a consensus. Still, nothing. Eventually, they called Cameron back from a local hotel to meet again and, after another question-and-answer session, offered the job.

“There were times when we vacillated,” Huizenga said at the press conference to introduce Cameron. “To be honest with you, it was not an easy decision.”

If that sounds like a businessman still trying to convince himself of a good deal, get a load of this as Huizenga continued to sell Cameron to reporters.

“Everybody looked at how we were going all over the place to find a coach and thought we didn’t know what we were doing,” Huizenga said. “Sometimes it did feel like that.

“Was he (Cameron) the safe choice? No. A little more risky? Yeah. Could this thing blow up on us? Maybe. But we said we’re going for the gold.”

Fool’s gold, as it turned out. Cameron, who was 18-37 at Indiana University in his only previous try at head coaching, went 1-15 in his one season at Miami and was lucky to get that one victory in overtime.

At least Mike Tannenbaum, the executive in charge of the current Dolphins search, appears confident in his decision-making. Within a week or so he should settle on somebody and get busy on a contract.

[If Dolphins can find a coach as tough as Don Shula, I don’t care how old he is]

[Bill Belichick’s primer on how long it takes a new coach to fully install his system]

Until then, there’s a sense of waiting on the dominoes to fall as a half dozen other teams take turns interviewing the same basic list of candidates. When one or two of them get snapped up, the Dolphins don’t want to be left wishing they had been more decisive, more prepared.

This isn’t like Saban’s departure, a total shock. Miami’s been warming up for this moment for months.