DAVIE, Fla. (AP) -Now that the Miami Dolphins have a coach, they can start looking for some players.
Miami needs an upgrade at almost every position, which is now Tony Sparano's problem. On Wednesday, the former Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach became the Dolphins' fifth coach since 2004.
On a team that went 1-15 in 2007, few roster spots are secure. Sparano didn't mention a single player by name during a 25-minute introductory news conference.
``For me the score is 0-0 right now,'' he said. ``I need to sit down and get to know these people.''
His boss he already knows. Sparano was hired by mentor Bill Parcells and general manager Jeff Ireland.
The trio worked together in Dallas when Parcells was head coach in 2003-06.
``I know what the people here are capable of, and I'm excited about that,'' Sparano said.
Parcells sat in a corner of the room, smiling occasionally like a proud papa. He declined to meet with reporters, leaving the talk to his proteges.
``When Bill and I discussed what we were looking for in a head coach, we talked about one of high character,'' Ireland said. ``We wanted someone who understood how to develop young players, one who could instill a culture that's all about winning.
``We think we found that guy. We know we found that guy.''
The hiring had been anticipated since Parcells fired Cam Cameron. Of the four candidates Miami interviewed, Sparano was the only one with ties to new regime.
``I've coached for a lot of people and worked for a lot of great coaches,'' said Sparano, 46. ``Coach Parcells has taught me the most and prepared me the most for this job.''
Their relationship dates to 2003, when Sparano became the Cowboys' tight ends coach. But he has long respected the work of Parcells, who won NFL titles with the New York Giants in 1986 and 1990.
``I grew up a Giant fan,'' Sparano said. ``My father to this day is a Giant fan, OK? I hope he's a Dolphin fan today, but we grew up that way.''
The Dolphins can thank the Giants for expediting their hiring of a coach. Sparano became available when the Cowboys lost their playoff game to New York on Sunday.
``It does leave a bitter taste in my mouth,'' Sparano said. ``Anybody who knows me knows I'm about finishing. We didn't finish. That left a bad taste in my mouth. ...
``Obviously it has been a real crazy week for me. But I'm glad it ends this way.''
Sparano is a West Haven native, and his only head coaching experience was at the University of New Haven in 1994-98. His team was NCAA Division II runner-up in 1997.
``I had 120 players,'' he said. ``You had to get 120 players ons the same page. So it's all relative. This is a little different situation, a little bigger stage. But I'm prepared. I'm confident in myself.''
Sparano has spent nine years as an NFL assistant, including the past five years in Dallas. He became the Cowboys' offensive line coach in 2005 and called plays for Parcells in 2006, then was promoted to assistant head coach last February.
The Dolphins have repeatedly tapped the Dallas pipeline since the arrival of Parcells, who last month became executive vice president of football operations. Former Cowboys assistant David Lee was hired as quarterbacks coach, and Brian Gaine was hired as assistant director of player personnel after three years as the Cowboys' assistant director of pro scouting.
Dallas went 13-4 this season, while the Dolphins are coming off the worst year in team history. They lost their first 13 games and missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, extending a franchise record.
``We have a lot of work to do,'' Sparano said. ``It's going to be a tough road.''

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