The New Era Begins Today

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will usher in an era for himself and his organization Thursday when he hired Bill Parcells as the sixth coach in Cowboys history. Parcells will be officially introduced at a press conference on Thursday.

"I'm going to do it," said Parcells, breaking a three-year hiatus from the NFL to replace Dave Campo, who was fired on Monday after three consecutive 5-11 seasons.

Parcells will become the richest coach in Cowboys history with a four-year deal worth $4.5 million per season. He will tie Seattle's Mike Holmgren as the second -highest paid coach in the league behind Washington's Steve Spurrier, who makes $5 million annually.

Parcells was offered the job on Monday. But he said he needed a few days to think some things over before agreeing to come out of retirement to coach the Cowboys. Parcells, won two Super Bowl titles with the Giants and led the Patriots to the Super Bowl, hasn't coached since leaving the Jets in 1999.

"I just needed to think some things over and sleep on it one last time," Parcells said. "You know, this is important to both Jerry and me. We don't want to fail. It's got to work and I feel good about it. Jerry has invested a lot in the Cowboys and the thing that drives him more than anything else is his desire to win. That's the biggest common (denominator) we both have."

Parcells is a proven winner and Jones wants to win again, which is why the prospective new era speaks not only to a coaching change but also Jones' philosophy at Valley Ranch.

Jones said it bears no reflection on his feeling and respect he has for Campo, whose emotional farewell Monday was filled with tears sorrow and disappointment.

"Making a change at the head coaching position is not an easy thing to do when that change involves someone that has been loyal and made key contributions to our success over the last 14 years," Jones said.

"Dave is a class act all the way. There has never been an individual who is appreciated more, worked harder, more diligently and with more loyalty about getting the job done. This was not about what Dave was unable to do as head coach. This is more about a change philosophy."

Jones' change in philosophy means a radical shift in how he goes about hiring a head coach and the balance of power in his organization.

Campo, the fifth coach in Cowboys history, was the fourth hired since Jones took over the team in 1989, following Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey. He was the fourth to come in without previous head coaching experience. While the philosophy to go with rookie NFL coaches produced three Super Bowl titles in 1990's and six NFC East titles, the drop off in talent following the departures of Super Bowl heroes like quarterback Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin provided a rebuilding job that inexperienced Campo was unable to overcome.

Campo, who had not been a head coach on any level before being named Cowboys coach in 2000, was 15-33 in three seasons and never spent a day above .500. Jones said 2002 was his most disappointing season as owner, considering he spent more than $42 million in bonus money on off season additions only get a 5-11 finish in return.

According to sources close to Jones, he decided the Cowboys needed an experienced and strong head coach to shepherd them back to the top, prompting the pursuit of Parcells.

"Dave was hired because he represented a continuation of a philosophy that began when I bought the team in 1989," Jones said. "A coach of the Cowboys had never been a head coach in the NFL. That was the philosophy we had. I have been looking at the circumstances that have been involved with the team since Dave became head coach. This change is about philosophy. The change in philosophy to depart from not ever having head coaching experience."

The change also means that Jones is ready to cede some power to a head coach for the first time since running off Johnson in 1993.

Parcells, often described as a control freak, wants final say in personnel decisions and a hand in scouting.

He hasn't coached since 1999 when he was the coach and general manager of the New York Jets. Before that, he directed the New England Patriots, which he left in 1997 following a Super Bowl season in a dispute over control.

Parcells said at the time, "If they're going to ask you to cook the meal, they ought to let you buy the groceries."

Parcells will also pick his own coaching staff, meaning that Jones will likely have to pay off nine assistants who are still under contract. Parcells will consider the current staff but only defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is a candidate to be retained.

Jones, known for his heavy involvement as owner and general manager, said he's willing to take step back in hopes of making the Cowboys winners again. The Cowboys, who won three Super Bowl titles in the 1990's, had three straight 5-11 seasons under Campo, have not been to the playoffs in four years and have not won a playoff game in six years.

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