Sunday, June 14, 2009

Switzer says taking over Dallas Cowboys was 'a tough job'

By BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Published: 6/14/2009 2:31 AM
Last Modified: 6/14/2009 6:13 AM

In 1994, after the Dallas Cowboys had captured a second consecutive Super Bowl title, a rift between Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson resulted in Johnson's resignation.

Barry Switzer, five years removed from his 16-season run as the University of Oklahoma head man, succeeded Johnson as the head man in Dallas.

Switzer remembers the phone call from Jones: "Jerry wanted me. There was no interview process. Jerry just calls and says, 'Do you want the job?' I said, 'If the job is open, I'd be interested.' He says, 'The job is going to be open. I'm going to fire Jimmy tomorrow. Get in the car and drive down here.' I got in the car and drove to Dallas."

On March 31, 1994, one day after being introduced as the new Dallas coach, Switzer says he was visited by Jones: "I was in my office there at Valley Ranch, and he said, 'Tear up that contract you signed yesterday. I got up this morning feeling the best I've felt in a long time. I looked in the mirror and I like myself for the first time in a long time.' I understood what he was talking about. He said, 'I've had such a great night's sleep. I'm going to give you a raise right now.' "

Switzer on the criticism he endured during the Dallas year: "What was I supposed to do with Jimmy's players? Lose? The sports writers down there weren't going to give me a chance. They didn't want me. I knew that going down there. I had a tough job. Think about it. I didn't get to hire any coaches. I've got to go in there and take over a bunch of guys, and I don't know their hidden agendas or what their loyalty would be. I was there to keep this thing in the middle of the road. Same playbook. Same offense. Same defense. Why change it? Why change the staff? They had won two Super Bowls."

Switzer says he was tempted to resign after his second season with the Cowboys: "I should have gotten out of there after I won the Super Bowl. I thought about it, but Lacewell (Larry Lacewell, who was Dallas' scouting director and a former Switzer assistant at OU) talked me out of it."

The 1994 Cowboys were beaten at San Francisco in the NFC Championship game, and Switzer's 1995 team defeated Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX. Switzer and Johnson, who were collegiate rivals when Johnson was at Oklahoma State and Miami (Fla.), remain the only coaches to have won both Super Bowl and national college championships.

Switzer resigned at Dallas following a 6-10 season in 1997. With an overall record of 64-40, his winning percentage of .625 is better than Johnson's (.550) and Tom Landry's (.607).