Remembering the Dolphins’ home run hire

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As the Dolphins’ Twitter account pointed out, today is the 44th anniversary of Miami’s hiring of Don Shula as head coach.

The Dolphins surrendered their 1971 first-round pick to Baltimore as compensation after being judged to have tampered with Shula in their quest to have him run a club that was a 3-10-1 in its last AFL season of 1969.

In the end, it was a small price to pay.

The Dolphins won 10 games in Shula’s first season of 1970. Two seasons later, they were a perfect 17-0 and captured Super Bowl VII.

Overall, Shula led the Dolphins to a 274-147-2 record (.651) in regular-season and postseason play in 26 seasons (1970-1995). The franchise captured its lone two Super Bowl victories in his tenure.

Since then, the Dolphins are 146-151 (.492). They have not advanced beyond the divisional round since 1992, and they have but three wild-card wins to their credit since Shula’s tenure ended.

The numbers can be viewed many ways. If you’re looking for a little sunshine on a cold day in February, look at it this way: 44 years ago today, the Dolphins absolutely nailed a major managerial decision, and think of it what did for the franchise for so many years. And if you’re really into positive thinking, look at this way: history suggests periods of great football success are possible.

But are they ever hard to attain.

26 responses to “Remembering the Dolphins’ home run hire

  1. I remember when the Raiders traded Jon Gruden as far away as they could .. we got two 1st round picks two 2nd round picks and 8 million in cash. Then he destroyed our franchise on live television and the Raiders haven’t recovered since .. 11 consecutive non-winning seasons and counting. *sigh*

  2. Seems like yesterday! Wish more coaches had the character that Shula has. May remedy the rampant low life behavior now displayed in the NFL.

  3. Shula, and the 70’s Dolphins deserve a LOT of credit. Had it not been for the WFL vulturing some of their key cogs, the Dolphins could have provided some truly formidable competition to the legendary Steeler teams that followed.

    No one mentions the Dolphins or Cowboys as teams of the 70’s, because of the Steelers — but both of those teams really deserve an enormous amount of credit.

  4. Ah, yes … the 44th anniversary of the Dolphins tampering with Baltimore to steal their coach.

    Something they soooo conveniently forget when they’re vilifying Nick Saban and Alabama.

  5. Not hard to attain, just depends who is in charge of looking, a blind man or a visionary. Miami simply hasn’t chosen to seriously pursue greatness and put forth the effort for it over the last couple decades. This is why they need somebody new in charge at the top who can lead them into a future dominant position, or at least that’s what I think they should strive for.

  6. Great coach who stayed around way too long. The last 11 years under Shula the Dolphins were a mediocre team for the most part (only averaged 8.8 wins per year).

  7. “Something they soooo conveniently forget when they’re vilifying Nick Saban and Alabama.”

    Nobody I know vilifies Alabama, that’s not even tampering in the same sense. The problem was simply the way Saban left.

  8. With all due respect on the tampering charge, people forget that Shula wasn’t exactly considered a great coach in Baltimore.

    After the Colts lost Super Bowl III to the Jets, Shula was seen to have choked in a game in which they should have dominated their opponent. Shula was largely blamed for that failure, and essentially seen as damaged goods thereafter.

    Shula was happy for the opportunity to leave, and he took it.

  9. Shula would have won more super Bowls if cheap-skate Joe Robbie had thrown some money into the front office to retain top flight talent evaluators such as George Young and Bobby Beathard. Marino fell into Shula’s lap, but the team around Marino was never talented enough to win the Super Bowl. This always bothered Shula who realized that you needed talent to win.

  10. “He could take his’uns and beat you’rn or he could take you’rn and beat his’uns” – Bum Phillips

  11. In 2016, the Dolphins will be celebrating the 10 year anniversary of making another great move for their franchise….signing Drew Brees instead of trading for Daute Culpepper.

    Oh wait…

  12. Didn’t that the other league start sometime after 73 and the dolphins lost some key players because Joe Robbie refused to pay what the boys were worth. Miami should have had another couple of titles with that group. That’s when football was mostly played by men and not the candy floss players of recent times.

  13. Watch out – there’s a lot of uninformed but righteous fans out there who think that signal stealing (*gasp I’m shocked this happens in the NFL!*gasp) and tampering makes Super Bowls invalid

    So for all of them, here you go:

    1972 Dolphins 17-0*

    *cheating by tampering

  14. I agree, Miami would have been the team of the 70’s if Csonka, Kick and Warfield had not gotten greedy and made a run for WFL money. Shula had those teams steamrolling people.

  15. @fwippel:

    Thanks for the history on perception of Shula. Very interesting.

    It should be mentioned that Shula should not be associated with any tampering. He was not the tamperer, just the tamperee. Everything Shula and the team accomplished on the field was earned.

    If any rules were broken it had absolutely no impact on 17-0.

  16. We kinda skipped over NFL Championship loss to Cleveland, and Super Bowl losses to Jets, Cowboys, Redskins, and 49ers. 2 -5 in Championships. As far as losing players to WFL… who’s fault is that? There was no salary cap, Dolphins were just cheap.

  17. They weren’t greedy by a long shot, it was the Dolphins who were to cheap to pay the guys market value for there services. Bill

  18. Seeing how Dan Marino was your only other home run, it sure looks like anything smart that the Dolphins do is by accident rather than sound decision making….unless you count Cecil the Diesel Collins as a home run…and Jay Fiedler, and Lawrence Phillips…and the biggest home run of all…not bothering with that too-short guy with the bum shoulder…Drew Brees.

  19. Dolphins went downhill when the left the Orange Bowl. The seats were close to the field and the FANS were loud. Sun life stadium the fans are seated to far from the field.

  20. j0esixpack says: Feb 18, 2014 6:45 PM

    Watch out – there’s a lot of uninformed but righteous fans out there who think that signal stealing (*gasp I’m shocked this happens in the NFL!*gasp) and tampering makes Super Bowls invalid

    So for all of them, here you go:

    1972 Dolphins 17-0*

    *cheating by tampering
    And when you point this out, or the Denver salary cap shenanigans during their SB winning years, you are called a whiner. It’s to laugh. The best part of the Shula tampering stuff is listening to Shula moralizing about cameragate. He was that era’s Polian.

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