As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I’ve spent the better part of the week trying to track down someone from Valley Ranch who is in charge, or in the know, when it comes to plane tickets and hotel reservations. Why? Because I’m trying desperately to get my hands on the list of team personnel who will be attending Senior Bowl Week in Mobile, Alabama. Again, why? Because I feel there are some very important, perhaps even essential, names missing. The glaring absence sought? The name of current Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Make no mistake about it, something, something huge, is afoot at the Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Valley Ranch, Texas. Ever since the moment the season ended in another “thrown away” fashion in the nation’s capital, the gears have been turning, and the main cogs are within Owner, President and General Manager, Jerry Jones. Jones shouted to the masses: “Things will be highly-uncomfortable at Valley Ranch over the course of the next couple of weeks.” Well, if you’re Skip Peete, Rob Ryan and a whole slew of “dangling” assistant coaches and coaching assistants, the discomfort has come and gone, just like their employment status. But most sceptics, me included, would say, “That’s it? Really?”
The answer to that question is a resounding no, and for those waiting for the other shoe to fall, you’re simply waiting for the wrong foot apparel. The next thing to drop is going to be a gigantic boot. Mountain-sized. And at the end of that boot is going to be Jason Garrett’s highly-educated butt. See, three people have been conspicuously underground since the season ended. Yes, Jerry has spoken on his local radio show, but there have been no sit downs with the media (as mandated by the NFL) to discuss the season in review or what’s coming next. Strange or defiant? Maybe a little of both knowing Jerry’s love of the “spot light.”
This weekend is the Pro Bowl, and then next week the 49ers and Ravens play for the Lombardi Trophy on Bourbon Street. Good stuff, right? So, how do you compete with that if elimination surfaced its ugly head with the conclusion of the 2012 regular season? You wait for the masses to gather and the stage to be as grand as it can be, and then you muscle your way into the showcase. And just how will Jerry Jones get this done?
By announcing the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and that name will not be the continuation of Jason Garrett. Jerry Jones will tell the world his next head Coach will be the one and only, Jon Gruden. As the readership shakes its collective head, to grasp this one, you have to fully understand the “Six Steps Removed from Kevin Bacon Theory of Relativity”. Many are familiar with this Magic Eight Ball type of predictive approach, but unlike the real stretch, this one has merit. Significant merit.
Once again, the Dallas Cowboys’ General Manager is putting coaching personnel in place as he sees fit or deems appropriate. Has the hiring of Monte Kiffin as Defensive Coordinator and the selection of Rod Marinelli as defensive line coach actually been fully, and verbally, endorsed by current head coach Jason Garrett? Unless I’ve missed it, which is entirely possible with my fading memory, I don’t recall Jason on any podium saying, “Those decisions are mine, and they make sense for this organization, at this time, for these reasons………….” People, why hasn’t this happened? Because they are not Jason Garrett’s decisions!! They belong to the Owner, President and General Manager, you know, the one proclaiming much unrest at Valley Ranch. No one has stepped up publicly to explain, endorse and field questions about the current state of affairs at Valley Ranch. Where is everyone? Posses can’t seem to surface any significant personnel or decision-makers. Isn’t that more than a little strange this time of the year? Especially with a ¼ of the League making changes at head coach, and if not General Manager. Traditionally, teams try to put it all together before departing to The Great South so that a “united” front exists when confronting and visiting with collegiate personnel.
OK, to move slightly back to the Kevin Bacon School of Connectivity, let’s look at some of the coaching pieces currently in place. Those pieces being Bill Callahan, Wade Wilson, Monte Kiffin, Rod Marinelli and several other assistant coaches, all having ties to the four gentlemen just named. If you’re not connected, you’re not staying. Period. Either the existing/exiting Head Coach has absolutely no say, power or endorsement ability as the General Manager paves the road to Coaching Alley in 2013, not to mention a complete change in defensive philosophy moving from a 3-4 (Parcells’ Must Have) to a 4-3, Tampa 2, Kiffin staple. Uh, why? Many pundits and critics are arguing the Cowboys don’t have the current personnel to make the switch, and if indeed that is true, shouldn’t someone be explaining the reasons why the decision was made? Anyone? The only thing consistent about word out of Valley Ranch is “Mum.” Where are the Dallas Cowboys going, and how are they going to get there? Hello? Anyone home?
Unless this whole master plan is being coordinated and orchestrated from outside the organization. I say it is. I say Jerry Jones and Jon Gruden have been “stealthy” and clearly under the radar in their assessments and negotiations. Poor Jason Garrett and his family, left dangling like some kind of wrong-doer in the midst of the gallows floor being dropped. Left to twist and sway in the wind. Would Jerry do this to family? Surely, he would have more compassion to a “Son” than some run-of-the-mill pawn like Dave Campo or Chan Gailey. Garrett deserves better, doesn’t he? Or does he?
So, going back to putting the pieces together. So, who was the Offensive Coordinator and play-caller in Oakland when Jon Gruden arrived in the Bay Area in 1998? Bill Callahan. He was a trusted adviser and integral part of Gruden’s offensive philosophy and scheme. Wade Wilson was also a trusted lieutenant on that staff. As the year’s and productive progression continued in Oakland, it was successful enough for the Glazer family to come calling, even at the expense of established head coach Tony Dungy. So the entry of Jon Gruden brings change in Tampa Bay and an eventual Super Bowl victory over his previously-governed Oakland Raiders. Coincidence? Hardly. And to help get that done, because with no offense to Brad Johnson, Keyshawn Johnson and a whole slew of other no names, Tampa Bay’s Lombardi success was rooted in the defensive system and personnel. Who oversaw it? Monte Kiffin. Who was Kiffin’s right hand man and assistant to carry out the Tampa 2 to perfection? Rod Marinelli. So, you tell me if Jake and Elwood Blues are looking to get “The Band Back Together?”
Without Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Garrett providing public endorsement of all Jerry’s personnel/coaching moves, what head coaching candidate in his right mind is going to come in and accept the table Jerry has basically set for him? Either a very, very dumb and naïve one who is only looking for money and the high-profile stage, or one that has been behind the scenes advising the Owner, President and General Manager the whole time. Where has Jon Gruden been lately, and why hasn’t he been the talk of this coaching carousel? Brother Jay sure has been in the mix, but “nada” from film-studying, QB Guru and Monday Night Football Analyst with ESPN’s Mike Tirico. No “Chucky” to be found? It’s like George C. Scott’s depiction of George Patton in the self-titled movie, “Patton,” when it was proclaimed, “The Whole World is at War, and I’m Not Part of It……..God will not Permit this to Happen.”
So, as World War II had its share of bombs and bombshells, get ready for Jerry to load up his own version of the Enola Gay and unload Jon Gruden on the national public via Jerry’s Cowboys Lear One. How big of an explosion it would make is yet to be seen, but like Kevin Bacon, all signs point back to Gruden in a very unorthodox way. He sure knows the “key” personnel on both sides of the ball, and it would be the only scenario where I see someone other than Jason Garrett coming in to take over the reins with comfort and familiarity. And Lord only knows the Cowboys need QB instruction and guidance.
So, America, brace yourselves. The stage in set. Gruden to the Dallas Cowboys will rock the NFL World. Is the mountain-sized boot ready to be dropped on the NFL World? You go, Jerry, get us all highly-uncomfortable, and then deliver a security blanket that actually makes some sense. And if there is no Kevin Bacon Theory of Relativity at work here, will you and Coach Garrett please get your proverbial behinds on stage, behind microphones, with an inquisitive media throng present tell us all, “What the hell is going on??!!
SportDFW would like to thank Scott Knudsen for contributing this post.