Cowboys: 10 Worst Decisions By Jerry Jones

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Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 – Hiring Barry Switzer

It’s hard to get into this particular chapter without actually giving away the top spot on this list, but I’ll try.

Let’s just say that former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Barry Switzer was about the last person anyone would have expected to become coach of the Dallas Cowboys, regardless of their current standing at the time.

When news broke of this hiring, it had been preceded by simple rumors within the previous day and it just wasn’t taken seriously.

Then came a press conference that had the look and feel of a Saturday Night Live skit.

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Switzer hadn’t been seen or heard from for several years following his unceremonious departure from Norman amidst a program mired in scandals. The program was placed on NCAA-mandated probation in 1989 and a highly successful career, especially against interstate rival University of Texas, was severely tarnished.

Yes, Switzer had always been a thorn in the side of Longhorns fans and he would both rectify and worsen that distinction as just the third head coach of the Cowboys.

Switzer’s selection was beyond bizarre, and actually childish once you really understood what it was all about. His predecessor in Dallas had been a longtime rival-head coach at Oklahoma State and his new quarterback with the Cowboys, two-time Super Bowl winning Troy Aikman, had actually transferred out of Switzer’s program before finishing his college career at UCLA and eventually becoming the first player selected in the 1989 NFL Draft.

It’s true that Switzer had come from a high-profile college program that some argued made him a perfect fit for the glitz and glamour that surrounded the Cowboys. On the other hand, the success at OU had obviously gone to the dogs under Switzer as his players had no feat of consequences or ramifications for their completely ill-advised actions throughout the late 1980s.

On the morning of October 24, 1994, I was driving to a Dallas radio station for a morning internship I was involved with. I ended up passing the exact location where right tackle Erik Williams had had a rather serious automobile accident just a few hours earlier. Still before sunrise, I had no idea anything had happened at that off-ramp until arriving at the station where early reports were trickling in. Williams had crashed his Mercedes-Benz into a concrete retaining wall and injured his knee along with other insignificant injuries. He was out for the season and this officially cracked the door for NFC arch-rival San Francisco to pass the Cowboys.

Not long after, Michael Irvin began his off-the-field issues and star defensive tackle Leon Lett would join him.

The Cowboys would lose to the 49ers twice that season and there would be no three-peat. Switzer was completely unable to maintain his predecessor’s success against the team of the 80s. Switzer would win Super Bowl XXX following the 1995 regular season, but that team was a shell of the two that had beaten the Buffalo Bills in 1992 and 1993.

By the end of the 1997 campaign, Dallas had missed the playoffs for the first time since the final rebuilding year of 1990 and Switzer was fired.

This native of Arkansas – think about that – was never a fit nor a relevant part of Cowboys success towards the end of Dallas’ last championship runs in the mid-90s.

Next: Jones Fires Second Super Bowl-Winning Coach