Sparano as head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2011.
|Position:||Offensive line coach|
October 7, 1961|
West Haven, Connecticut
|High school:||New Haven (CT) Lee|
|Head coaching record|
|Regular season:||32–41 (.438)|
|Coaching stats at PFR|
Anthony Joseph Sparano III (born October 7, 1961) is an American football coach who is currently the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings. He previously served as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. Sparano is the only NFL head coach to lead a team to the playoffs the year following a one-win season, and only the second to conduct a ten-game turnaround, both of which he accomplished in his first season with the Dolphins. However, Sparano was fired by the Dolphins on December 12, 2011, after a disappointing season.
Sparano was a four-year letterman for Division II University of New Haven, starting at center for the New Haven Chargers and graduating in 1982. He earned a B.S. in criminal justice from New Haven in 1984.
Sparano began his coaching career at his alma mater, serving as New Haven's offensive line coach for four seasons before joining the staff at Division I-AA Boston University. After one year as the team's offensive line coach, Sparano served five seasons as the Terriers' offensive coordinator.
Sparano was named New Haven's head coach in 1994, and led the Chargers to two playoff appearances in five seasons. In 1997, New Haven led Division II in offense (42.8 points per game) and finished second in defense (11.6 points allowed per game) en route to a 12–2 record, losing to Northern Colorado in the championship game.
National Football League
Beginning his NFL career in 1999, Sparano was fired in three staffing purges after brief stints with the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars. While with the Redskins, Sparano was partly responsible for launching the career of Ross Tucker. Sparano was hired by new Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells in 2003, rising from tight ends coach to assistant head coach in his five seasons in Dallas. Sparano was the offensive play-caller for Dallas in 2006, but ceded the responsibilities to new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett the following season.
After firing Cam Cameron following a franchise-worst 1–15 season, the Miami Dolphins and new executive vice president of football operations, Bill Parcells hired Sparano to a four-year contract worth $2,500,000 per year on January 16, 2008.
In his first season, Sparano led the Dolphins to an 11–5 record and the AFC East division title, securing the franchise's first playoff berth in seven seasons before losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a wild-card game. The 10-win turnaround tied an NFL record and Sparano finished one vote behind Atlanta Falcons first-year head coach Mike Smith in balloting for the AP Coach of the Year award.
In the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Sparano led the Dolphins to a 7-9 record and third place in the AFC East. Sparano's Dolphins went 1-7 at home in 2010. The Dolphins were the subject of much gossip at the end of the 2010 season when team owner Stephen Ross flew across the country with General Manager Jeff Ireland to interview then Stanford University coach Jim Harbaugh. At the time of the interview with Harbaugh, Sparano was still the team's head coach. It was also reported by numerous media sources that Ross also spoke with former NFL coaches Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher about the not yet open position. According to reports Bill Cowher told Ross he would not talk to him while he had a head coach in place.
On January 8, 2011, the Dolphins gave Sparano a two-year extension worth $4,500,000 dollars, with Ross saying he was the perfect man for the job. However, on December 12, 2011, hours after a week 14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Sparano was fired; secondary coach Todd Bowles finished out the season. The Dolphins bought out his contract for $9 million.
Return to assistant coaching
On January 11, 2012, Sparano was hired as the new offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, signing a three-year deal. Sparano was fired on January 7, 2013 after the Jets' offense performed extremely poorly, with an offense ranked 30th out of the 32 teams in the NFL.
On January 23, 2013, Sparano was hired to the dual roles of assistant head coach and offensive line coach by the Oakland Raiders. He was expected to work closely with new offensive coordinator Greg Olson and head coach Dennis Allen to restore the angle-blocking scheme favored by star running back Darren McFadden, following the Raiders' disappointing 2012 offensive showing. After an 0-4 start to the 2014 season, the Raiders promoted Sparano to interim head coach on September 30, 2014 after firing head coach Dennis Allen. Sparano was not retained as head coach following the 2014 season.
Head coaching record
|New Haven Chargers (NCAA Division II Independent) (1994–1998)|
|1995||New Haven||10–1–1||NCAA Division II Quarterfinals|
|1997||New Haven||12–2||L NCAA Division II Championship|
|Won||Lost||Ties||Win %||Finish||Won||Lost||Win %||Result|
|MIA||2008||11||5||0||.688||1st in AFC East||0||1||.000||Lost to Baltimore Ravens in AFC Wild-Card Game|
|MIA||2009||7||9||0||.438||3rd in AFC East||-||-||-||-|
|MIA||2010||7||9||0||.438||3rd in AFC East||-||-||-||-|
|OAK*||2014||3||9||0||.250||4th in AFC West||-||-||-|
* – Interim head coach
NFL head coaches under whom Tony Sparano has served:
- Chris Palmer: Cleveland Browns (1999–2000)
- Marty Schottenheimer: Washington Redskins (2001)
- Tom Coughlin: Jacksonville Jaguars (2002)
- Bill Parcells: Dallas Cowboys (2003–2006)
- Wade Phillips: Dallas Cowboys (2007)
- Rex Ryan: New York Jets (2012)
- Dennis Allen: Oakland Raiders (2013–2014)
- Jim Tomsula: San Francisco 49ers (2015)
- Mike Zimmer: Minnesota Vikings (2016–present)
Assistants under Sparano who have become NCAA or NFL head coaches:
- Paul Pasqualoni: University of Connecticut (2011-2013)
- John Bonamego: Central Michigan (2015–present)
- Todd Bowles: New York Jets (2015-present)
Sparano was born in West Haven, Connecticut. He has become known for wearing sunglasses, even during instances of relatively low lighting, due to an accident he suffered while working in a fast food restaurant at age 17 which damaged his eyesight and made sunglasses medically necessary.
Sparano and his wife, Jeanette, have three children: sons Anthony Michael (currently an assistant offensive line coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars) and Andrew (an offensive line coach at Chabot College) both played college football at Albany, while daughter Ryan Leigh is a classically trained French pastry chef.
- Kelly, Omar (August 28, 2008). "Handpicked to right ship". South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- "Dolphins still have room to improve after remarkable turnaround". www.nfl.com. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Dolphins fire coach Tony Sparano". www.espn.com. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- "Sparano Enters: The Dolphins on Track?". www.kffl.com. 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- "Distinguished Alumni: Anthony J. Sparano III". University of New Haven. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
- Cavanaugh, Jack (1997-12-13). "New Haven Just a Step from Division II Peak". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- Bishop, Greg (2008-09-05). "Tony Sparano Follows Unconventional Path to Become Dolphins' Coach". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Parcells hires three more coaches". New York Times. 2003-01-16. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- Watkins, Calvin (2007-06-09). "Garrett will call Cowboys' plays". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Dolphins hire Sparano as head coach, replacing Cameron". www.espn.com. 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Miami on pace to tie best turnaround in NFL history". www.nfl.com. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- "Smith edges Sparano for AP Coach of Year". www.nfl.com. 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
- Cimini, Rich (11 January 2012). "Jets hire Tony Sparano to staff". ESPN. Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Orr, Conor (8 January 2013). "Tony Sparano fired as Jets offensive coordinator, report says". The Star-Ledger. Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
- Florio, Mike (23 January 2013). "Tony Sparano lands in Oakland". ProFootballTalk.com.
- "Tony Sparano new 49ers TE coach". ESPN. 22 January 2015.
- Hartman, Sid (January 13, 2016). "Ex Dolphins Boss Tony Sparano To Coach Vikings Offensive Line". Minneapolis Star Tribune. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
- Tony Sparano Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks - Pro-Football-Reference.com
- University at Albany football roster
- Tony Sparano Bio
| New York Jets Offensive Coordinator