Tony Sparano is in his second year as Oakland’s assistant head coach/offensive line.
Sparano 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. He also owns 15 years of NFL coaching experience.
Last year, Sparano tutored a shuffling offensive line through eight different starting combinations, the most in the NFL. His offensive line paved the way for four different players to rush for 100 yards, the fist team to do that since 1978. The Raiders rushed for 2,000 yards, which ranked 12th in the league.
Prior to serving as N.Y. Jets offensive coordinator in 2012, Sparano compiled some impressive accomplishments in his tenure as Miami Dolphins head coach, a position he held from 2008-11.
In 2008, Sparano 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, where he also served as play-caller. In 2005, The Cowboys finished 13th in the NFL in two categories, total yards per game (325.1) and rushing yards per game (116.3). Dallas improved their total yards per game in 2006, finishing 5th in the league with 360.8. The team also finished 5th in passing yards per game (239.8) in 2006. Sparano shifted 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 compiled a 41-14 record (.745), with four winning campaigns and one .500 season. In that tenure, he also 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, including Cleveland Browns 1989 draft selection Mike Graybill, before serving as offensive coordinator from 1990-93. In his final season at BU, the 12-1 team won the Yankee Conference and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA playoffs.
PERSONAL: A native of West Haven, Conn., Sparano launched his coaching career at New Haven with a four-year stint (1984-87) as offensive line coach. The starting center at New Haven during his playing days, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Sparano played at Richard C. Lee High School in New Haven, Conn. He and his wife, Jeanette, have three children, sons Tony and Andrew, who each played football at Albany, and daughter Ryan Leigh. The younger Tony is an offensive assistant with the New York Jets.