Cowboys request to interview Norv Turner

The Dallas Cowboys finally came calling, and Mike Nolan reluctantly gave them permission to speak to Norv Turner, who now becomes a top candidate to fill the vacant opening for Dallas' next head coach.

Nolan, who had hoped he wouldn't be faced with such a request, granted the Cowboys the go-ahead when they asked Friday morning to formally speak with Turner, who enjoyed perhaps his greatest coaching success during three years as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator from 1991-1993. Dallas won back-to-back Super Bowls during that time.

Turner's success in Dallas was a springboard to his first head coaching position at any level with the Washington Redskins from 1994-2000. Turner also was head coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2003-2004. When he was fired by the Raiders last January, Turner came to San Francisco to join Nolan, who was Turner's defensive coordinator in Washington from 1997-1999.

Dallas already has hired former Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach Jason Garrett to be the Cowboys' next offensive coordinator. Garrett also was believed to be a candidate for the head coaching job to replace Bill Parcells, who recently retired instead of returning for the final season on his contract with the Cowboys.

But Dallas owner Jerry Jones apparently didn't feel Garrett was ready yet to step up to the top job. There is speculation in Dallas that Jones would hire Turner - a noted quarterback guru - to groom young quarterback Tony Romo while also grooming Garrett to eventually replace him as Dallas' head coach.

Turner worked wonders with both second-year quarterback Alex Smith and the San Francisco offense last season. The 49ers, who ranked dead last in the NFL in total offense in 2005, improved significantly in several offensive categories, and Smith made huge strides after his rocky rookie season while seeing his passer rating improve from 40.8 to 74.8.

The Cowboys have also received permission to interview Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, another strong candidate for the job.

The time and date of Turner's interview in Dallas has not yet been set. He currently is in Mobile, Alabama, with Nolan and the rest of the San Francisco staff coaching the South squad in preparation for Saturday's Senior Bowl game.

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