- Associated Press - Thursday, January 6, 2011

MIAMI (AP) - Jim Harbaugh’s blowout victory in the Orange Bowl made a big impression on Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

The Stanford coach met Thursday with Ross in the San Francisco area about the Dolphins‘ job, two people with knowledge of the situation said. But Harbaugh was still considering staying put at Stanford late Thursday, one person said.

Stanford was “still in the mix,” the person said, and Harbaugh also met Thursday with the president of the university and the provost. The school has made an amended offer to the coach with enhancements from the original deal presented to Harbaugh in early December.

Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the matter was to remain confidential.

ESPN was first to report Harbaugh’s meeting with Ross. Harbaugh met Wednesday with the San Francisco 49ers about their coaching vacancy. He may consider other suitors as well and hasn’t ruled out remaining at Stanford.

A late-season collapse by the Dolphins left Tony Sparano’s job in jeopardy.

While Stanford may lose Harbaugh, Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck opted to stay in college to get his degree instead of immediately cashing in on the riches of being the likely No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Luck announced his decision Thursday.

Harbaugh returned Tuesday to the Bay Area following Stanford’s 40-12 Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in the stadium Ross owns. Ross, Dolphins CEO Mike Dee and general manager Jeff Ireland were on the Stanford sideline before the game.

Harbaugh was a star quarterback at Michigan, which also has a coaching vacancy. But Wolverines athletic director Dave Brandon has said he expects Harbaugh to take an NFL job.

Ross is also a Michigan graduate and a major contributor to the university. The school of business carries his name.

Landing Harbaugh will require a significant financial commitment. New Denver Broncos chief football executive John Elway has said he hopes to interview Harbaugh for their job, and new 49ers general manager Trent Baalke is looking for the coach to replace Mike Singletary, who was fired.

If Harbaugh reaches an agreement with the Dolphins, he would become their sixth coach since 2004. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2000 and haven’t reached the Super Bowl since 1984.

Sparano has a year left on his contract, but a late-season collapse may have sealed his fate. He has been working this week at the team’s complex in Davie, Fla., and when he took an afternoon walk Thursday, he encountered a cluster of media staking out the facility.

“You guys need to find a better hobby,” Sparano said.

While the Dolphins don’t technically having a coaching vacancy, they also must comply with the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires any team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate. Harbaugh is the only candidate they’re known to have interviewed.

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