Coaching Tidbits from Valley Ranch

Spent some time at Cowboys headquarters today, and trust me: For whatever reason (and you don't have to have worked under the thumb of the now-departed 20-Million-Dollar Mercenary to figure out that reason), the place is Happy Valley Ranch. Some coaching-search tids and bits.

* I hear the Cowboys now have permission from SF to talk with Norv Turner, and that there was no "delay'' in the process. Almost makes me think the interview -- if not the eventually hiring -- is a foregone conclusion.

* The Wade Phillips permission from San Diego is also official, and my spies at the Senior Bowl say that as of Thursday afternoon, he's no longer in Mobile. Meaning, I assume, he's on his way here.

* Jason Garrett? And/or Norv Turner? And or/Wade Phillips? I'm impressed. No, not because those kind of hires at Valley Ranch insure playoff victories. But because the addition of the likes of Garrett in some capacity marks the return to power at Valley Ranch of a real live human being. On a personal level, Garrett truly has got whatever it takes to do whatever he wishes. Teaching, lawyering, CEO'ing, broadcasting. ... and yes, head coaching, though we're getting him WAY ahead of his projected curve here.

* Let me put a purely-DFW spin on Garrett: In terms of his quality as a human being, he's a football version of the Mavs' coach, Avery Johnson. So you hire him -- to do something.

* Let me put one more anti-Parcells spin on Garrett: On Wednesday night, he was in downtown Dallas at the NHL All-Star Game. One night, and he's already out in the community more than InfalliBill was in four years.

* Todd Haley was asked by the Cowboys to remain. But in an undefined capacity. So Haley wisely took the best, surest thing. Sources tell me he gets a three-year contract to be Arizona's O-coordinator, and that he will not be taking any Dallas assistants with him.

* A reasonable scenario in Dallas: Todd Bowles jumps up to D-coordinator. Bill Parcells (serving as an advisor to Jerry Jones now) loves him. And Jerry loves the idea of continuity.

* This is all rather unorthodox; hiring assistants BEFORE you hire a head coach? Either Jerry is quite comfortable being unorthodox, OR some assumptions were made in advance of the Garrett move. (For instance, Norv ending up here.)

* News that the Cowboys want to interview former assistant Gary Gibbs, now the Saints D-coordinator, surprises some who aren't admirers of Gibbs' work in Dallas (or at OU, for that matter). But, nothing wrong with covering all the bases, right? Besides, one source suggests it's a "courtesy'' interview for a good soldier, that Gibbs -- as a friend of Jones, Larry Lacewell and Barry Switzer -- has earned at least a visit. And that the same reasoning came into play when Jones interviewed young aides Todd Bowles, Todd Haley and Tony Sparano. Now their names are in the NFL head-coaching -interview mix for the future.

* Make sure you know this about Gibbs: He will NOT have Parcells' endorsement at Valley Ranch.

* ESPN's Michael Smith insists we quit making such a big deal of Lovie and Dungy being black. ... but spends an entire column reminding us that they are. You know. ... black and all. Hey, the NFL has made it a RULE that teams with vacancies interview a black candidate. How do we ignore that?

* One of Jerry Jones' first requirement of his next Dallas Cowboys head coach should be: No Desire To Conduct A Daily Press Conference.

The 20-Million-Dollar Mercenary, by virtue of his desire to appear all-knowing and all-controlling (and all over ESPN), ended up a media star at Valley Ranch with more airtime than Jerry Lewis soft-shoeing at his Telethon and less credibility than Baghdad Bob emerging from his cave. InfalliBill fancied himself a powerful and irrascible funnyman -- and indeed, what could be more humorous than referring to a media questioner as "a jerk''? -- and a deep-thinking philosopher.

Most DFW media members apparently felt too bullied to ever call him on any of this. So virtually every day for four years, InfalliBill folded his stomach beneath a Valley Ranch table (it might have actually been four stomachs; you know, like a cow) and pretended he was some sun-kissed Combo Platter of Aristotle, Mark Twain and Vince Lombardi.

Prediction regarding Garrett, and for that matter Turner and Phillips: By virtue of their job requirements, they may step on some toes. But unlike their predecessor, if they step on toes at Valley Ranch, it won't be because they want to make themselves feel bigger, and it damn sure won't be just for the fun of it.

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