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Spring Housing Guide

Cowboys announce Wade Phillips as next head coach

By Stephen Hawkins The Associated Press

IRVING, Texas – Twice during his introduction of Wade Phillips as Dallas Cowboys coach, Jerry Jones had to stop and gather himself. The decision was that emotional for the team owner.

“We needed to get it right,” Jones said, pausing as tears welled up in his eyes. “In my mind, we got it right.”

Phillips was hired yesterday, providing Dallas with an experienced replacement for Bill Parcells and someone well-versed in the 3-4 defense.

Maybe more significantly for Jones was getting a coach who can win now. The Cowboys haven’t won a postseason game in 10 seasons, the longest drought in team history.

“This team is best served now, next week, next month and next season by an NFL head coach with experience, that knows the game, that candidly knows the personnel that are playing the game right now,” Jones said.

The seventh coach in team history, Phillips is only the second to arrive in Dallas with previous NFL head coaching experience. The other was Parcells, who retired Jan. 22 after four seasons with the Cowboys.

Phillips, defensive coordinator at San Diego the past three seasons, has a 48-42 head coaching record over three seasons with Buffalo, two with Denver and season-ending interim stints with New Orleans and Atlanta. The 59-year-old son of longtime Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips has been in the NFL for 30 of the last 31 seasons.

“It’s great to have these cowboy boots back in Texas,” said Phillips, showing his boots from the podium, where his father sat to his right. “(Jones) feels like and I feel like I was the best fit for this job. … I think I can make an immediate impact.”

Wade Phillips joins Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson as the only Texas natives to be in charge of “America’s Team.” Landry and Johnson both won two Super Bowls in Dallas.

“It’s a big job, but I’m ready for it,” Phillips said.

Jones interviewed 10 candidates before hiring his sixth coach since buying the team in 1989. Phillips was interviewed two weeks ago, and his chances of getting the job seemed to be fading when Norv Turner was among five more who followed him.

“It was really tough,” Phillips said. “In the game, I have control in a lot of things, like making the calls. In this, I didn’t have any control. I’m just hoping.”

But Jones chose the defensive-minded Phillips over Turner, a two-time head coach who was the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator for Super Bowl titles after the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

“It was important to get the experience and expertise and some of the specific things that I felt we needed to help our team out,” Jones said. “How we were going to go forward with the offense, how we were going to go forward with the defense.”

After Jason Garrett interviewed for the vacancy Jan. 25, Jones hired him to an unspecified role on the coaching staff. It has been presumed he will be the offensive coordinator, but Phillips said he didn’t want to discuss Garrett’s role until he had a chance to talk to the former backup quarterback.

Phillips’ head coaching record includes 3-4 as a fill-in for the Saints and Falcons and 0-3 in the playoffs, most notably the “Music City Miracle,” when Tennessee used a trick kick return for the winning touchdown in the closing seconds against the Bills in January 2000.

Besides carrying on his family tradition, Phillips has handled the dubious task of replacing Super Bowl coaches Dan Reeves in Denver and Marv Levy in Buffalo. So the idea of following Parcells doesn’t bother him.

Parcells, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants, went 34-32 in four years in Dallas and lost twice in the playoffs. He implemented the 3-4 scheme in Dallas two years ago, and has built a roster suited for it, highlighted by end-turned-linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

“I love the defense that San Diego plays, and I think our team has guys who could play great roles in it,” Ware said yesterday from the Pro Bowl.

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