Sparano loses coach of the year by 1 vote

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
MIAMI -- At least the count was closer than the MVP ballots.

Dolfans surely will feel they were snubbed again when they learn head coach Tony Sparano didn't receive the Associated Press' NFL Coach of the Year award, which was announced shortly before kickoff Sunday.

Sparano lost by one vote to Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Despite all of Sparano's accomplishments in helping the Dolphins amass an 11-5 record and claim the AFC East title one year after winning a single game, Smith also deserved it.

The Falcons -- and their city -- were awash in turmoil from the Michael Vick scandal and Bobby Petrino's classless, hit-and-run tenure. But Smith, with a rookie quarterback and rookie GM, took the Falcons to the playoffs.

What likely hurt Sparano's case was that many people think of football operations boss Bill Parcells first when they consider how far the Dolphins have improved from last year's debacle.

What I can't condone, however, is that one voter apparently couldn't make up his mind and split his vote between Smith and Sparano. Had the voter gone with Sparano, the award would have been shared.