The article I was speaking of.
January 25, 2007 7:35 PM
IRVING, Texas - Jerry Jones didn't just wake up Tuesday morning and say to himself, geez, why don't I hire Jason Garrett.
Come on, no matter what you think of the Dallas Cowboys owner, give the guy a little credit.
Sure, Garrett has only coached two years in his 40-year-old life, both the past two with the Miami Dolphins. But look, the guy played the game for 12 seasons, all as either the third quarterback or the backup, with Dallas, the New York Giants, Tampa Bay and Miami. He was doing a little more than just wearing a ball cap or carrying the proverbial clipboard.
Also, in case you have forgotten, Jason's daddy, Jim, had been a lifetime coach and scout, spending 38 years in the NFL as an assistant coach and scout - the final 16 as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys. He had been an assistant coach with the Giants, Saints and Cleveland. He was the head coach at Columbia University one year. He was the head coach at Susquehanna University four years (40-3-1). Jim Garrett, now 76, even played briefly in the NFL and the CFL. A lifer until finally retiring following the 2003 season, gong on 74.
Check this out, too, just in case you got your panties in a wad over Garrett having only coached two years in his life, and now likely will at least be running the Cowboys' offense while continuing to be a candidate for the head coaching position. Jason's older brother Jim is the offensive coordinator at a prep school (University School). One of his other brothers, John, is the wide receivers coach at the University of Virginia. And his younger brother Judd, on the practice squad in 1993 with the Cowboys, has been an assistant in the NFL since 1997, and is now the tight ends coach with the St. Louis Rams.
So the 40-year-old Garrett is not your ordinary guy with just two years of coaching experience. His are not your normal genes.
Then there is this: The Cowboys and then newly-named head coach Dave Campo tried to hire Garrett in 2000 when he became a free agent after spending eight years with the Cowboys. Instead, Garrett decided to make several more millions playing four more season with the Giants.
In 2004, Norv Turner tried to hire Garrett as his quarterbacks coach in Oakland. Garrett decided to milk one more year playing in the NFL, splitting his final year (2004) with Tampa Bay and Miami.
In 2005, Nick Saban quickly added Garrett to his staff when he decided to finally call it quits playing. Then offensive coordinator Scott Linehan tells the story about meeting Garrett for the first time at the Senior Bowl that year, and that 10 hours later they hired him.
In 2006, Linehan, St. Louis' newly-named head coach, tried to bring Garrett, with just one year of coaching under his belt, with him as offensive coordinator but was denied permission by the Dolphins.
In 2007, after Saban left the Dolphins for the University of Alabama, he wanted Garrett to be the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator. Butch Davis wanted him in the same capacity at North Carolina. Les Miles wanted him at LSU. No go, said the Dolphins, who had him under contract for another season and at the time were unsure of how they would fill their head coaching vacancy.
In 2007, Cleveland tried repeatedly to seek permission to speak with Garrett about its offensive coordinator's position, but the Dolphins told the Browns, hands off.
In 2007, Miami's newly-named head coach Cam Cameron offered Garrett an extension to his one-remaining year with the Dolphins as the quarterbacks coach, putting a Thursday deadline on Garrett's decision.
My lands, that the Cowboys were able to add Garrett on Jan. 25, 2007, to their coaching staff in a capacity yet to be determined must be some sort of coup, right? Can all these people have been wrong?
Sure must be nice to be wanted.
Jones has simply done what he's always wanted to do, but became the first one in a sea of solicitors to land the guy affectionately known as "Red Ball" during his days with the Cowboys, a takeoff on starting quarterback Troy Aikman's locker room nickname of "8 Ball."
Obviously the Dolphins didn't have to grant Garrett permission to talk with the Cowboys since he was essentially being interviewed for a lateral move while under contract. But they knew how much time he had spent with the Cowboys. They knew how long his daddy had worked for the Cowboys. They knew they were bringing in Ken Zampese to interview for the offensive coordinator's spot. They knew how much it would mean to Garrett to return to Dallas.
For that, Garrett said he is eternally grateful to the Dolphins organization to grant him this permission. Said he couldn't say enough about the people he had worked for the past two years and how classy they were.
Consider Jones and Garrett lucky.
"Jason is someone who is held in high regard as a bright offensive mind throughout the NFL," Jones said in a statement. "The nature and timing of this hire is unique in that we were dealing with a limited window of time in which to talk to Jason about returning to Dallas.
"We are grateful to the Dolphins for granting the Cowboys permission to explore this opportunity. Jason will now proceed further in our head coaching search as an in-house candidate."
Not armed with such knowledge, there surely will be some out there criticizing the Cowboys for hiring a potential offensive coordinator or assistant head coach before hiring the head coach. They will be telling you Jones is back to his old tricks, minimizing the power of the head coach now that Bill Parcells has retired by forcing a staff on the new guy.
But hey, when the opportunity knocks, you had better react when good people are involved. I mean, can all these people be wrong? Me, I'm guessing if Garrett was good enough for Campo and Saban and Linehan and Saban and Davis and Miles and Romeo Crennel and Cameron - did I leave anyone out? - then he must be good enough for Cowboys-head-coach-to-be-named-soon. Garrett must have something they all wanted.
Is any of this registering?
The Cowboys have now received permission to talk with three coordinators for their head coaching vacancy - Norv Turner, Gary Gibbs and Wade Phillips. You think any of these guys would think Jones is stuffing Garrett down their throats? Do you think any of these guys will turn down an offer because they didn't hire Garrett? Do you think any of these guys would be resentful of Garrett's presence?
If you think that, then you don't know Jason Garrett, not to mention squat. My guess is, the guy doesn't have an enemy in the world. None. Seriously. And I'm not B.S.-ing you here just because I have known the guy for quite some time.
Listen to Cleveland GM Phil Savage, who said this to the Palm Beach Post at the Senior Bowl this week: "He obviously appeals to a lot of people. We were looking for an up-and-coming prospect and he's the one everyone's talking about right now. He might not have impressive coaching credentials, but he's impressive nonetheless."
Or how about this from Linehan to the Palm Beach Post: "He's so impressive in almost every respect. He has a lot of the intangible qualities that you can't really find in a lot of guys."
Now, would you not hire him on the spot - or within three days of your head coach resigning, since Garrett told me Thursday when we bumped into each other in the hallway out here at The Ranch that this whole deal has surprised him; that he had no idea when he departed for the Senior Bowl on Monday he'd be in Dallas two days later, and on the Cowboys staff three days later.
To me, Jones is not overstepping his bounds. He's just taking advantage of a mighty fortuitous situation, and right now probably is the envy of the league.
Now I'm not sure how this is all going to end up, whether Garrett will be the offensive coordinator, the assistant head coach in charge of the passing game or even the head coach, since the Cowboys have gone so far out of their way to continue pointing out he remains a candidate for the top job.
Who knows. Compared to the 31-year-old and 34-year-old head coaches recently hired, Garrett is old. OK, he doesn't have the coaching experience most head coaching candidates have. But all those years as a backup have to count for something.
Hey, he was Aikman's right-hand man during his Cowboys days, even when he was the third guy, seemingly always behind someone. As Campo told the Palm Beach Post at the Senior Bowl, "I'm telling you, he coached Troy Aikman."
The big question when it comes to head coaching, and he'd need an experienced, right-hand man, sort of Avery Johnson's Del Harris, would be how he handles the room. Meaning, how does he do in front of his entire coaching staff explaining what he wants done. How does he present himself in front of the entire team. That, he's never had to do.
So we'll see where all this goes. Just understand what happened on Thursday was an extremely good thing for the Dallas Cowboys.
Bet on it.