Ex-Alabama coach Shula interviews with Dolphins

MIAMI -- The latest candidate to emerge for the Miami
Dolphins' coaching job has a big edge in name recognition: He's a

Mike Shula Shula

Mike Shula interviewed for the job Saturday and is one of at
least five candidates still under consideration, the Dolphins said
Tuesday. Shula's dad, Don, coached the Dolphins for 26 years, holds
the NFL record with 347 victories and is a member of the Pro
Football Hall of Fame.

"Mike is a very, very highly qualified person," Dolphins chief
executive officer Joe Bailey said on his weekly radio show. "He's
got a lot of his dad in him -- very, very smart, very assertive,
very firm."

Hiring the younger Shula would mean a swap of coaches with
Alabama. He was fired by the Crimson Tide in November and replaced
by Nick Saban, who left the Dolphins on Jan. 3 after two seasons.

Other remaining candidates to replace Saban: former Atlanta
Falcons coach Jim Mora, Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey, Dolphins
defensive coordinator Dom Capers and San Diego offensive
coordinator Cam Cameron.

The Dolphins' search for a head coach has become much less frantic, and that's going to help the process.

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Capers interviewed for the head coaching job, then agreed to a
new three-year contract as defensive coordinator last week. His
defensive unit ranked fourth in the NFL this season.

"He remains in consideration for the head job," Dolphins
president Bryan Wiedmeier said. "We're very fortunate to have him
in our organization."

The Dolphins also met with Cameron during the first round of
interviews and have since been in contact with his agent.

"He's an outstanding football mind, probably one of the more
innovative football minds in the game today," Wiedmeier said.

The Dolphins have met with at least 13 candidates, and that list
could grow. There's speculation Miami will pursue Marty
Schottenheimer if he's fired by the San Diego Chargers, who were
eliminated from the playoffs Sunday.

"If a candidate surfaced today that we felt was compelling and
that was the right person, certainly we would consider that,"
Wiedmeier said.

Among those no longer under consideration is Schottenheimer's
son, New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The
younger Schottenheimer, at 33 Miami's youngest candidate, withdrew
from consideration Monday.

"There are very few people … that would have the maturity to
say to themselves -- which is what he has said -- 'I don't think at
this point, either from a professional or a personal standpoint,
that I'm ready to take the next step,'" Bailey said.

The Dolphins apparently believe the 41-year-old Shula might be
ready to become an NFL head coach. He went 26-23 in four years at
Alabama, but 0-4 against Southeastern Conference rival Auburn.

The Crimson Tide fired him after they went 6-6 during the 2006
regular season. Shula said he left Alabama in better shape than the
program he inherited, which was weakened by NCAA sanctions.

In a statement released by the Dolphins, Don Shula endorsed his
son's candidacy.

"Everywhere he has coached, Mike has exhibited class, integrity
and enthusiasm, all critical ingredients to run a successful
program," the elder Shula said. "He has spent his entire life
around the game and understands what it takes to build a winner. He
has a special feeling about the Dolphin organization and truly
appreciates the opportunity to talk to the team's management about
the future of the franchise."

Mike Shula was a Dolphins ballboy when his dad coached the team.
He has spent 15 years as an NFL assistant, most recently in 2000-02
as Miami's quarterbacks coach.

"He clearly has a track record of success when he was here, but
also elsewhere as an assistant coach before he went to the
University of Alabama," Bailey said.

Don Shula has advised management during the search, as has Hall
of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.

"Coach Shula's opinion is something that we hold in high
regard. He has given us his opinion of a number of our
candidates," Wiedmeier said. "Danny has been a great resource. I
don't think anybody has any more passion for us to succeed than

"Think about all the people that Dan knows, and all the people
Coach Shula knows. These are the people we look to and get advice