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Sources: Donahue Rejected Cowboys

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Terry Donahue turned down an offer by Jerry Jones to become the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, several sources have said, and money appears to be at the root of the problem.

Negotiations were broken off by Donahue once the subject of money came up.

One source said Jones offered Donahue about $500,000 a year, half what Donahue thought the job would pay. Another source said Donahue at no time mentioned money.

Donahue said only “no comment” when asked directly if the Cowboy owner had offered him the job, and he would not discuss money.

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But Donahue said he enjoyed his talks with Jones--three in-person interviews and a number of phone conversations.

Donahue, who spent most of Monday in Dallas interviewing with Jones, said, “I found him to be a very interesting man, and our talks were insightful and exciting.”

But apparently Donahue was bothered by a number of aspects of how Jones has structured the Cowboys, taking such a hands-on approach to running the club.

One source said a coach would have to be heavily compensated financially to take the job under Jones’ conditions.

Said Donahue: “The conditions would have to be right on both sides, for me and my family and for Jerry and his family.”

That Jones is assembling his own staff of assistants is said not to bother Donahue, nor does the fact that Jones often is on the sideline during games.

It’s that Jones is so heavily involved in every aspect of the team.

Said one Donahue associate: “Terry almost realized his dream, but he got out before it became a nightmare.”

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Jones denied the job was offered because there was nothing in writing.

But Jones had booked plane tickets for Donahue’s family to go to Dallas for a news conference Tuesday to announce the hiring of Donahue.

The Cowboys also bought Donahue a plane ticket to Indianapolis, where the NFL scouting combine is being held today.

Although Donahue insists there is still a possibility something can be worked out, those close to the former UCLA coach say it is highly unlikely.

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Jones and Donahue were close to talking terms a week ago, but then Jones, according to several sources, thought he had a shot at landing Mike Holmgren.

But Jones could not get permission from the Green Bay Packers to talk to Holmgren, so he again directed his attention toward Donahue.

Then those negotiations fell apart Monday.

So it appears Donahue will continue to work for CBS as a college football commentator. CBS wants to pick up the option year on the contract he signed two years ago, and that is expected to happen soon.

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Donahue would like to be involved in CBS’ new NFL package, but indications are CBS will leave him on college football.


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