Hiring The NFL's Most Wanted


Jones has simply done what he's always wanted to do, but became the first one in a sea of solicitors to land the guy affectionately known as "Red Ball" during his days with the Cowboys, a takeoff on starting quarterback Troy Aikman's locker room nickname of "8 Ball."

Obviously the Dolphins didn't have to grant Garrett permission to talk with the Cowboys since he was essentially being interviewed for a lateral move while under contract. But they knew how much time he had spent with the Cowboys. They knew how long his daddy had worked for the Cowboys. They knew they were bringing in Ken Zampese to interview for the offensive coordinator's spot. They knew how much it would mean to Garrett to return to Dallas.

For that, Garrett said he is eternally grateful to the Dolphins organization to grant him this permission. Said he couldn't say enough about the people he had worked for the past two years and how classy they were.

Consider Jones and Garrett lucky.

"Jason is someone who is held in high regard as a bright offensive mind throughout the NFL," Jones said in a statement. "The nature and timing of this hire is unique in that we were dealing with a limited window of time in which to talk to Jason about returning to Dallas.

"We are grateful to the Dolphins for granting the Cowboys permission to explore this opportunity. Jason will now proceed further in our head coaching search as an in-house candidate."

Not armed with such knowledge, there surely will be some out there criticizing the Cowboys for hiring a potential offensive coordinator or assistant head coach before hiring the head coach. They will be telling you Jones is back to his old tricks, minimizing the power of the head coach now that Bill Parcells has retired by forcing a staff on the new guy.

But hey, when the opportunity knocks, you had better react when good people are involved. I mean, can all these people be wrong? Me, I'm guessing if Garrett was good enough for Campo and Saban and Linehan and Saban and Davis and Miles and Romeo Crennel and Cameron - did I leave anyone out? - then he must be good enough for Cowboys-head-coach-to-be-named-soon. Garrett must have something they all wanted.

Is any of this registering?

The Cowboys have now received permission to talk with three coordinators for their head coaching vacancy - Norv Turner, Gary Gibbs and Wade Phillips. You think any of these guys would think Jones is stuffing Garrett down their throats? Do you think any of these guys will turn down an offer because they didn't hire Garrett? Do you think any of these guys would be resentful of Garrett's presence?

If you think that, then you don't know Jason Garrett, not to mention squat. My guess is, the guy doesn't have an enemy in the world. None. Seriously. And I'm not B.S.-ing you here just because I have known the guy for quite some time.

Listen to Cleveland GM Phil Savage, who said this to the Palm Beach Post at the Senior Bowl this week: "He obviously appeals to a lot of people. We were looking for an up-and-coming prospect and he's the one everyone's talking about right now. He might not have impressive coaching credentials, but he's impressive nonetheless."

Or how about this from Linehan to the Palm Beach Post: "He's so impressive in almost every respect. He has a lot of the intangible qualities that you can't really find in a lot of guys."

Now, would you not hire him on the spot - or within three days of your head coach resigning, since Garrett told me Thursday when we bumped into each other in the hallway out here at The Ranch that this whole deal has surprised him; that he had no idea when he departed for the Senior Bowl on Monday he'd be in Dallas two days later, and on the Cowboys staff three days later.

To me, Jones is not overstepping his bounds. He's just taking advantage of a mighty fortuitous situation, and right now probably is the envy of the league.

Now I'm not sure how this is all going to end up, whether Garrett will be the offensive coordinator, the assistant head coach in charge of the passing game or even the head coach, since the Cowboys have gone so far out of their way to continue pointing out he remains a

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