Former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano will join the Raiders as assistant head coach/offensive line, Head Coach Dennis Allen announced Wednesday.
The addition of Sparano, who joins the Raiders after spending the 2012 season as N.Y. Jets offensive coordinator, leaves only one vacancy on Oakland’s staff, linebackers coach. Sparano will begin his duties in Oakland next week.
Sparano, who in 2013 enters his 30th year in coaching, has nine combined seasons as a head coach, four (2008-11) at the reins of the Miami Dolphins and five (1994-98) at the University of New Haven.
Prior to his season with the Jets in 2012, Sparano compiled some impressive accomplishments in his first season as Dolphins head coach, a position he held from 2008-11. In ’08, he steered Miami to the greatest year-to-year improvement in NFL history, a 10-game difference as the Dolphins earned the AFC East crown with an 11-5 record, before losing in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Sparano finished one vote shy of winning the Associated Press Coach of the Year. His career record as an NFL head coach is 29-33.
Sparano helped the Cowboys to three playoff appearances and four winning seasons in five years (2003-07) on the Dallas staff, including four under head coach Bill Parcells. Sparano tutored the tight ends from 2003-04, then served as offensive line coach/running-game coordinator from 2005-06, before shifting to assistant head coach/offensive line in 2007.
Prior to two one-year stops as a tight ends coach, with Marty Schottenheimer’s Redskins in 2001 and Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars in 2002, Sparano helped launch the expansion Cleveland Browns. In 1999, Cleveland’s first year back in the NFL, Sparano was an offensive quality-control coach. He spent 2000 in charge of the Browns’ offensive line.
Sparano made the jump to the NFL after five years as head coach (1994-98) of his alma mater, Division II New Haven, where he guided the Chargers to a pair of NCAA playoff berths. In 1997, his 12-2 club led the country in scoring offense (42.8 points per contest) and ranked second in scoring defense (11.6) before it lost in the national championship.
He spent the previous six seasons (1988-93) at Division I-AA Boston University, coaching the Terriers’ offensive linemen from 1988-89 before serving as offensive coordinator from 1990-93.
A native of West Haven, Conn., Sparano launched his coaching career at New Haven, a four-year stint (1984-87) as offensive line coach, after completing his college playing days at the school, as the team’s center.
He and his wife, Jeanette, have three children, sons Tony and Andrew, who each played football at Albany, and daughter Ryan Leigh.