Speculating For A Sure Thing

the 2006 Cowboys underachieved at 9-7, that means whoever takes over this team better win 10 games, and maybe no less than 11. Otherwise, we're talkin' a failed bit.

So who you gonna call?

Let's start with my own long shot. Dan Reeves. Now wait, don't laugh. Yeah, I know he just turned 63, but he actually wants the job with his old team. He took Denver to the Super Bowl three times. He had winning seasons in two of four years with the Giants, and it took the Cowboys overtime in the final game of the 1993 season to wrestle away the NFC East title from him. He took Atlanta to the Super Bowl his first year (1998). He got the Falcons into the second round of the playoffs in Michael Vick's second season (2002), which just so happens to have been his best passing season in the NFL. And he got fired the next year 11 games into the season with Vick out with a broken leg from the start. Career regular-season record is 190-165-2. He's been innovative and good with young quarterbacks. He has charisma, aura and is a good guy, but can pierce you with his eyes if need be.

Then there's probably the only two college head coaches Jones would consider: Bob Stoops and Pete Carroll. Even though Stoops has no NFL experience, he seems to have that aura you need in a head coach, not to mention the success. Carroll poked around in Miami, but wanted a five-year deal and total control. At least he's been an NFL head coach, twice in fact, taking over for Parcells at New England (three years) and one with the Jets, 1994, when a 6-5 team turned into 6-10. And his final problems with the Pats were the same as the ones which caused Parcells to hit the road: No control. New owner Bob Kraft wanted to run the show.

But here's a problem with both of those guys. You will have to pay NFL head-coach premium. Stoops is basically pulling in $3.45 million a year at Oklahoma, which includes a $3 million anniversary bonus paid in 2008, which probably is one reason Stoops just issued a statement, saying he has no interest in any other job. Carroll is up to $2.78 million a year. That's pretty good pay, and right now, these two have as much security as any coach could hope to have in college football. Again, we're talking Parcells money to buy them out.

Multiple people, though, have told me when trying to think like Jones on this hire to think "familiarity." They mean, someone Jones has some sort of relationship with or knows.

Jones started there on Tuesday, scheduled to interview three of his current assistants: Offensive running game coordinator/line coach Tony Sparano, offensive passing game coordinator/receivers coach Todd Haley and secondary coach Todd Bowles - all under contract for at least next season.

More familiarity then brings us to Wade Phillips and Norv Turner, one a defensive mind and one an offensive mind. Obviously, Jones knows all about Turner, his offensive coordinator for three seasons (1991-93) who obviously remained a good friend over the past decade. As for Phillips, the head coach at Denver for two years (1993-94) and at Buffalo for three (1998-2000), I'm told you'd be surprised how well these owners can get to know head coaches when they're attending NFL meetings. Plus, there is a mutual friends and associates link.

Sources also tell me Phillips will be interviewed for the job, and evidently the Cowboys already have made the customary call to ask for permission. Why? Well, as one person told me, "He's just a darn good football coach." Now that's defensive football coach, and everywhere he's been, a good to great defense has followed. Now that doesn't mean he's a great big picture guy, but then as we go through the candidates, how many of those guys are out there? Yes, say what you want, but Phillips had a 45-35 combined record in his two head coaching stops.

Then there is Turner, who obviously has not exactly flourished in his only two head coaching opportunities. But heaven's sake, throw out the Oakland job. No one is succeeding there. And in Washington, he eventually turned a struggling franchise into one with winning records in three of four years and had the Skins at 7-6 the next year before getting fired with three games to go.

Plus, Jones knows Turner is an excellent offensive coordinator and a

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