Barry Switzer Unplugged

If you don't pay attention to history you're doomed to repeat it. Someone said this once and frankly I have no clue as to how this guy knows for sure. One suspects he remarried his wife after the divorce and is living in misery ever since. Poor slob.

So here we are at Cowboy Central, reliving the very same situation that caused so much heartache in 1995. It's fourth and one and what do we do?

Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. And the Monday Morning water-cooler set has decided this should have been a no-brainer for Campo. Hand the ball to the running back and lets get that yard. But is that what really needed to happen to blow away those storm clouds that hovered over Texas Stadium?

It was in 1995 and the Dallas Cowboys were facing the Philadelphia Eagles in the Vet. Barry Switzer, one of 500 coaches that could have won a Super Bowl with the 1993 team, was pacing the sidelines wondering where his change was for the three hotdogs he purchased in the third quarter. Lo and behold the team had a slim lead and needed to make a first down to insure they could run out the clock.

Barry called for a dive play. For the uninitiated that is where you hand the pointy ball to the small guy in the backfield and let him slam his body into a pile of human beings. Hopefully he will move said pile and get the first down.

They handed to Emmitt Smith who ran behind Larry Allen and Erik Williams. The play went nowhere. Laid there and died.

But wait. The referees decided the play must be rerun because of some mystery as curious as how Catherine Zeta-Jones ever got an acting job. Oliver Stone will, of course, offer a feature film on the mystery. I hear Kevin Costner will play a referee.

So again into the fray go the gallant lads with stars blazon on their headgear. And the results were the same. The team did not gain the needed yardage to move the sticks or control the ball. The Eagles kicked the winning field goal and Mighty Casey struck out.

A caveat to this tale is our heroes went on to win the Super Bowl and everyone went home happy. But for a month and beyond the fans were restless wanting Barry Switzer skewered on a spit and bar-b-cued, then run out of town.

We now travel through time to last Sunday where Dave Campo faced a similar situation. The team had the ball on the 49ers 27-yard line. They faced fourth and short and a restless crowd was ready to have someone's backside if the hated 9ers from Frisco got a chance to win the game.

Dave calls for a field goal. He trots out Billy Cundiff, who has a side job acting with Bruce Willis in "The Sixth Sense," and attempts to ice the game. Billy made a mess and it took the 9ers less than two minutes to secure the win. "I see fired people," was heard throughout the stadium.

Second-guessers love Monday morning when they can go to work and announce to the great unwashed how they would have done something differently. ‘Run the dang ball,' I heard all day today from the goldy-throats or read in newspapers by the sage columnists waxing brilliance as they stroked their chin whiskers. Evidently it's much easier to make a living on Monday talking football than actually working Sunday's making decisions about football.

I seem to recall a local radio station erecting billboards all over this fair city welcoming Chan Gailey to his new job as the head coach of our beloved Cowboys. A gesture as nice as offering your seat to a pregnant woman on a subway train, or saving the last bite of cheesecake for your wife. The station gave sage advice to Chan for all to see. It read, "Just Remember Chan…Fourth and One…Punt!"

The Cowboys are the worst team in football when it comes to short yardage offense. They convert approximately 20% of their attempts to move the survey poles to a new location and a new set of downs. This means in the course of "Any Given Sunday," they are apt to fail four-out-of-five times at third or fourth and short.

Are we really asking this team to attempt to make what amounted to nearly two yards on the ground or through the air against a motivated 9er team playing to win the NFC West division? A failed play like that would have signaled not only the end of Dave Campo's tenure as the head coach, but also his life. After all, the State of Texas has a right to carry law and there is a good bet that at least a third of the crowd at Texas Stadium was packing.

But what is more important is the fact that there was no call which would have placated the Monday Morning set. Had Campo succeeded in making the two yards, he still would be the butt of every Cowboys joke told in Dallas.

Yet in that one decision there is no doubt that Jerry Jones will send Dave to the showers when the season is done. Up until recently Jones was vague about his thoughts on next year. However, his after-game comment was as telling a sign as any that were read by Madame Cleo for $2.99 a minute billed to your Visa card.

"That was a stupid [expletive] ballgame," Jones said from a stairwell somewhere in Texas Stadium. "The players played well enough to win. We [expletive] it up."

I probably wouldn't re-fi my house Dave. Jerry very seldom makes such blatant statements as this. Your days are as numbered as the days of our lives.

Campo made his bed a long time ago. Jones has no choice but to fire him for his decision-making in prior games. He has lost the team, due somewhat to Jones' actions, but more to his inability to get the team in a winning mode. The decision has no real bearing on Campo's job. Although you'd think the first salvo had been fired at the Alamo the way fans and press alike were complaining today.

But what strikes me as the crux of this story is how we as the voyeurs of this sport straddle the fence on every issue, as surely as a 9-year old throws leg over bicycle. In 1995 it was punt the ball. In 2002 it's run the ball. What it really is saying is win the damn game, Dave.

Yesterday is history. Just like 1995. In both cases the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys made the wrong decision in the minds of the press and fans. One has to wonder. If this is a test, what the right answer is.

History wasn't repeated – sort of - but you can bet your last buck someone is doomed. In both cases it's the coach.

CowboysHQ Top Stories