The Candidates

IRVING, TX. -- Few things amuse/frustrate me more than the fraudulent media members who pretend to possess something called "insight'' when all they really possess is something called a "keyboard.''

My amusement/frustration is about to explode as "experts'' from around the country issue guesses disguised as "scoops'' regarding the identity of the next Cowboys coach.

How can a writer know who will clean up the elephant dung left by Bill Parcells' parade out of town when employer Jerry Jones himself doesn't know?

A bunch of these rumored happen to be friendly with yours truly, including Norv, Jason Garrett, Zimmer, both Wades, Nutt, Denny, Wannstedt. ... I'd be happy with those guys for personal reasons for sure, and (for the most part) for professional reasons. (And yes, I sense the present Valley Ranch wind blowing at least temporarily in the direction of Norv Turner and Wade Phillips and maybe Jason Garrett.) But I won't fake inside-access here; I'll take another tack: Here's EVERY reasonable candidate I can think of, categorized and with comments we believe to be insightful. ... or at least, type-able on our keyboard:

Norv Turner -- If you want Troy Aikman hanging around Valley Ranch serving as a big brother to Tony Romo, you hire Troy's own big brother Norval -- who has since become a daddy to SF's Alex Smith.

Jason Garrett -- He's got whatever it takes to do whatever he wishes. No kidding, he's one of the handful of jocks I've ever known who I'd vote for for President. Seriously. Plus, his wife and I have secret crushes on each other.

Jim Bates -- He's a Jerry guy, he's a Lacewell guy, and he's respected outside of Valley Ranch, too. He just joined the Broncos as an assistant.

Mike Zimmer -- Escaped the Parcells Zoo just in time to take a job in Atlanta. The erstwhile Cowboys D-coordinatin' firebrand can still make it a round-trip flight.

Butch Davis -- A better D-coordinator than he was an NFL head coach (or an NFL Network commentator). But Butch knows his way around Valley Ranch, won big at Miami, and always played the political game very well.

Dave Wannstedt -- He's totally cut out to be the Pitt coach. I still think he's a special person who can succeed at anything he does.

Ron Meeks and Wade Wilson -- Meeks is the Colts' low-profile defensive coordinator. Wilson is the Bears' low-profile QB coach. Both did some '90's time at Valley Ranch. Both are probably a year away from real consideration.

Jimmy Johnson -- It sounds like a better idea than it really is. Like Jerry Seinfeld's dad wanting to recover his old raincoats for re-sale. Jimmy is rumored to be serving as a counselor to Jerry during this time. Leave it that way.

Mike Singletary -- The 49ers' assistant is Next Year's Big Thing. A Baylor man who would be a terrific ahead-of-the-curve hire.

Jim Caldwell -- He's not high-profile yet. But the Colts offensive coordinator has two weeks and one game to get high-profile.

Russ Grimm -- Passed over by his bosses in Pittsburgh, he's moving to an assistant's job in Arizona. Could a Hog be one of the 'Boys? Tim Lewis -- The Giants' D-coordinator will someday be "hot'' again -- but right now, his status as a Giant leaves a Parcells-like stink. Ron Rivera -- The Bears defensive coordinator is hot, but also not ready to move until February 5. He's a 4-3 guy; does Jerry really care about 4-3 vs. 3-4?

Les Miles -- He's a former Cowboys tight ends coach with a 22-4 record at LSU. But he's not exactly sexy (except, I'm sure, to Mrs. Miles). Bob Stoops -- The OU coach was a no-brainer star-to-be a couple of years ago. Is the bloom off the rose? There's a regional tie here, Jerry's spoken to him before, and it would mean ol' Switzer hanging around Dallas more. Which I endorse, since he always buys the drinks. But Stoops is saying 'no thanks.'

Pete Carroll -- Except for the fact he lacks Cowboys ties, he fits the mold: He has NFL experience, he's a national title, he'll sell tickets, and he'd be good for Romo.

Houston Nutt -- In my personal experience, one of the highest-quality men in college football. He and Jerry are buddies -- and Nutt's Arkansas boss, Frank Broyles, is like Jerry's surrogate daddy. Urban Meyer -- Aren't you surprised that the dynamic young Florida coach's name hasn't popped up in the NFL yet?

Mike Martz -- Jones knows him from their time on the NFL's Competition Committee. And he has won big back in his St. Louis days. But he's a friggin' nut.

Denny Green -- Another NFL Competition Committee buddy of Jerry's. He relates to players, he relates to fans, and most of all, if my long-time buddy comes here, I probably get hired the big bucks to host his coach's show. So c'mon, Denny! Wade Phillips -- One of the nicest guys in football (what a contrast from the ass Parcells), Wade knows the 3-4 defense, is a "players coach'' (a natural switch from Parcells' style) and has Texas roots thanks to daddy Bum.

Charlie Weis -- If it was a matter of Bill Parcells passing his baton to a crony, Weis would make more sense. But there's a $21 million buyout clause to pay if you wanna steal him from Notre Dame. And hasn't Jerry overpaid enough for The Parcells Guys Family Tree?

Al Groh -- Parcells was talking to him about leaving Virginia and coming to Dallas. Again, the question is does Jerry really WANT to continue down a Parcellsian path?

Todd, Todd and Tony -- Todd Haley and Todd Bowles were considered up-and-comers by Parcells. The hanging-by-a-thread young Cowboys assistants could swing either way: off the staff, or, toward an interview to move up. Tony Sparano might have a slightly higher profile, and therefore be nearer the front of the in-house interview line.

Lovie Smith -- There is real concern in Chicago that the Bears' classy Super Boss might jump ship. His mom once had a premonition that he would be the Cowboys coach when he was growing up in Big Sandy. A big-money, big-splash, Big Sandy homecoming?

Bill Belichick -- New England's Poorly-Dressed Dictator is both an above-the-marquee guy and a Parcells Guy. And he's also a dick. Jeff Fisher -- Already shut down by a very-wary-of-Jerry management in Tennessee.

Bill Cowher -- If I understand this correctly, Cowher would cost a 2007 employer $8 million and picks to the Steelers. No thanks. And there it is. The complete Insiders' List. Unless I'm leaving somebody out.

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