Tony Sparano is still coaching the Miami Dolphins, but the team may already be looking for his replacement, starting with the biggest of fish in the coaching pond: former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher.
CBSSports.com reported Tuesday that intermediaries for the team recently contacted "people close to Cowher" about becoming Miami's next head coach.
The Dolphins declined to comment when approached about the rumor by CBSSports.com, but a separate source told the Miami Herald later Tuesday that the team has not contacted Cowher or his representatives.
The Herald's source said team owner Stephen Ross is concerned that contacting anyone regarding the Dolphins' head coach position while Sparano remains employed could alienate some of the team's target candidates. This is doubly true with Cowher, who reportedly will not talk to any team about a coaching position with a coach currently in place.
The Herald's source did say, however, that Cowher is high on the Dolphins' internal list of possible replacements for Sparano should he be fired by the end of the season, as expected.
Former Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fischer and former Tampa Bay Bucs coach Jon Gruden (currently an analyst on ESPN's Monday Night Football) are also near the top of Ross' coaching wish-list.
It is unlikely that Gruden would leave the broadcast booth after accepting a 5-year contract extension from ESPN. But the Herald reported that he would consider it if offered to coach a marquee franchise (it's anyone's guess as to whether he considers the Dolphins a marquee franchise, though).
Regardless of whether any of these rumors are actually true, what is true is this: until the Dolphins actually fire Sparano, he will be surrounded by rumors that his team is actively searching for his replacement.
So if Sparano starts talking to himself even more, we'll know know why.