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Dolphins agree new deal with coach Sparano

By Simon Evans

The Dolphins went 7-9 in the AFC East and missed out on the playoffs for the second successive year under the coach.

However Ross, who said his meeting had caused Sparano "anguish," denied he had offered the Dolphins job to Harbaugh who on Friday was appointed coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

"It never got to that," Ross told reporters. "We realized we had the right man in Tony."

Ross said he may have been "naive" over the past week before adding that he did not expect his meeting with Harbaugh, widely regarded as the hottest property in college football, to make waves.

"I never thought it would be national news. I should have probably let Tony know. That was a mistake on my part," said the owner.

"I shouldn't have been talking to coaches until I decided I should make a change."

A clearly-hurt Sparano, who spent long spells staring into the distance with a fixed expression on Saturday, said it had been hard to keep his staff up to date with events.

"I have a lot of responsibilities, I have about 16 coaches and their families, my own family and about 60 players," he said.

Sparano added that after news broke of Ross's meeting with Harbaugh, he switched off his phone overnight before waking up to around 30 text messages of support from his players and one from the owner saying he had kept his job.

The coach said it was now time to put together a stronger team.

"I always tell the players -- when we walk in here we don't place blame. That's not what we try to do. We solve problems," he said.

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)