Dan Campbell and Doug Marrone, as scheduled, interviewed with the Dolphins on Friday.
But the Dolphins’ favorite to replace Joe Philbin might be the guy they talked to Thursday.
There’s growing momentum within the organization for the Dolphins to hire Adam Gase, the Miami Herald has learned. Gase, who interviewed Friday with the New York Giants, is coming back to South Florida on Saturday for a second interview, according to ESPN.
Gase, the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, is the hottest name in this year’s coaching carousel. And he was always high on Stephen Ross’ list — whose opinion matters the most.
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If the Dolphins do indeed hire Gase, as some in the building believe could happen this weekend, he will be the eighth consecutive Dolphins coach with no prior NFL head-coaching experience.
Gase, 37, was the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos before following John Fox to Chicago.
That was the biggest news on a busy day in Davie, where Campbell tried to convince Ross and his advisers to let him keep the job he has held on an interim basis since October.
The problem for Campbell: He’s competing against candidates who have already proven they’re ready for the job, like Marrone, who also interviewed Friday.
And unlike any other so-called “retread” candidate up for the Dolphins’ job, Marrone has the luxury of never being fired. He left the Buffalo Bills on his own terms.
So on Day 5 of the team’s exhaustive coaching search, Dolphins brass got a summary of the choice facing the organization: Go with a known quantity or bet on a rising star.
Gase certainly fits in the latter category. As does Campbell, who went 5-7 in his stint as Joe Philbin’s replacement, but that was without having a real say in the players or the system.
And he certainly had a sympathetic audience Friday.
“I love Dan Campbell,” Ross said recently.
Still, the sense is Campbell would benefit from a few more years of seasoning. But it takes a certain type of coach to accept a likely predecessor as an apprentice. Tom Coughlin, who as of now isn’t even a candidate, and possibly Mike Shanahan are probably the only two available who could make that type of arrangement work.
So if Campbell doesn’t get the top job, odds are he will be coaching elsewhere in 2016.
Marrone, meanwhile, is a known quantity who has succeeded in his two shots as head coach — Syracuse University and the Buffalo Bills.
Plus Marrone, a native of the Bronx, has ties to the franchise. The former offensive lineman played one season for the Dolphins in the late 1980s.
But after his short playing career ended, he climbed the coaching ladder, first in college and then as an NFL assistant. Marrone’s big break came in 2009, when he was named the coach of Syracuse, his alma mater.
Marrone turned around a moribund program and won a share of the Big East title in 2012.
That was enough for the Bills to lure him two hours west. Marrone went 6-10 in his first year as Buffalo’s coach but made a three-game improvement in Year 2.
And then he did the unthinkable: Marrone walked away. The exact reason why has never been made public, but an ownership change in Buffalo reportedly contributed to his decision.
Campbell and Marrone are the sixth and seventh candidates to interview with the Dolphins. Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is expected to become the eighth on Sunday.
Gase, Jackson, Marrone and Shanahan are considered the top tier of candidates in the Dolphins’ search.
And there’s growing evidence that Gase is at the top of that list.