Jones Turns Dallas Into Switzer-Land : Cowboys: One day after Johnson leaves, former Oklahoma coach gets the job.
Barry Switzer, nearly unbeatable in college but untested in the NFL, replaced longtime nemesis Jimmy Johnson as coach of the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday and said he wouldn’t tinker with a team that won two consecutive Super Bowls.
“There won’t be any changes,” Switzer said. “I hope the Cowboys don’t change. Jimmy and I are a lot alike. We’ve always been motivated and able to communicate to our teams. I just hope I can be compared to what Jimmy did.”
Switzer, 56, who won three national championships at Oklahoma but left amid scandal in 1989, got the job a day after Johnson walked out and ended his stormy five years under owner Jerry Jones.
“Get ready to watch the Dallas Cowboys be the best in the NFL,” said Switzer, who was Jones’ freshman football coach at the University of Arkansas. “We have a job to do and we’re gonna do it, baby!”
Switzer will retain every coach on Johnson’s staff, including offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese and defensive coordinator Butch Davis.
“It’s the greatest coaching staff in the NFL,” Switzer said. “I competed against some of them. I just ask them to give me a chance. Just let me garner their respect.”
At times, Switzer acted a little overwhelmed at being with the Cowboys.
“I never thought I would have an opportunity,” he said. “I thought my time had passed.”
Quarterback Troy Aikman and every assistant coach on Johnson’s staff met with Jones and Switzer on Wednesday.
“I think Barry is an outstanding coach and the transition should be smooth,” Aikman said. “I believe he will do a good job. He’s keeping the same staff. We’re keeping the same offense and defense. I think we’ll be comfortable with what he’s trying to do.”
Aikman and Switzer have had a rocky history. Switzer recruited Aikman out of Henryetta, Okla., telling him that they were going to a passing offense. However, Oklahoma stayed in the ground-bound wishbone.
Aikman played one game as a freshman in 1984, then started as a sophomore until he broke his ankle against Miami in the fourth game of the season. He transferred at the end of 1985 to UCLA, where he found immediate stardom in a passing offense and eventually became the Cowboys’ No. 1 draft pick in 1989.
Aikman said he was grateful to Switzer because “he was very helpful getting me to a university to do what I do best.”
Running back Emmitt Smith, who said on Saturday “if you fire Jimmy, you fire me,” had calmed down after talking to Johnson.
“He said Jerry treated him well with his contract. If Jimmy is satisfied, I’m satisfied,” he said. “There is no need for me to moan and groan. I have to make the best of the situation and keep moving.”
Wide receiver Michael Irvin, who said, “hell no” when asked if he would play for Switzer, was back at Valley Ranch slamming doors and declining interviews.
Smith said Irvin would “learn to deal with it.”
When Jones mentioned Switzer’s name in a bar during a tirade against Johnson at Orlando last week, it infuriated Johnson to the point of seeking a break from Jones.
Jones and Switzer had trouble getting their stories straight on when Jones first called Switzer. Switzer said, “I got a call last week from Jerry asking me if I wanted to coach.”
Jones had said his first contact with Switzer was on Monday, when the tiff with Johnson was boiling. Jones backtracked to say he called Switzer last week “to avoid embarrassment about mentioning his name.”
“This thing has the chance to really be fun and really be exciting and, most importantly, it’s going to be successful,” Jones said. “I think the excitement of being part of the Dallas Cowboys will be sustained. I think we’re going to be competitive dollars and sense wise.”
Switzer and Johnson were assistants at Oklahoma, where Switzer dubbed Johnson “Jimmy Jump-Up.” They were rivals when Johnson became head coach at Oklahoma State, losing every year to the Sooners the five seasons he was there.
After Johnson moved to Miami, he handed Switzer his only loss three years in a row, including the 1988 Orange Bowl for the national championship.
A year later, Switzer resigned after a scandal at Oklahoma that included NCAA probation, three players charged with rape, another charged with shooting a teammate and the starting quarterback indicted on cocaine-related charges.
“I get to work with 50 professionals now,” Switzer said. “I don’t miss the hassles with the NCAA and recruiting.”
Switzer said he wanted another job in football because he missed it.
“I give my commitment of loyalty, of excellence, of total commitment of making this program what it has been in the past and what it will be in the future,” he said.
Johnson was diplomatic in his response to the news that Switzer replaced him.
“It’s a little bit of a surprise to me, but again, that’s Jerry’s decision,” Johnson said on NBC’s “Today” show. “We’ll just have to wait and see how it works.”
Johnson visited Valley Ranch early Wednesday, then left, leaving the packing to his secretary. Later, he called the accounting department to see if his multimillion-dollar check had been cut.
“It wasn’t,” a source said. “Coach Johnson will probably get it tomorrow.”
With Switzer beside him, Jones sought to allay fears among Cowboys’ fans that he would meddle in the team’s on-field activities. Two weeks before this year’s Super Bowl, Jones irked Johnson by saying there were 500 people--including himself--who could do as well coaching the Cowboys.
“I feel we have one of the most talented teams that there is the NFL, if not the most talented team, and one of the best that has ever been put together,” Jones said. “I feel very confident that the continuity can be kept in place and be motivated with the new head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Barry Switzer.”
Switzer coached 16 years at Oklahoma, going 157-29-4, and won or tied for 12 Big Eight titles.
Dallas defensive lineman Tony Casillas, who played for Switzer at Oklahoma, said, “He’s a lot like Jimmy in that he knows how to win, but he knows how to have fun, too.”