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New sheriff in town

Longtime Cowboy Campo named Dallas' new coach

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Posted: Thursday January 27, 2000 03:34 PM

  Dave Campo Unlike predecessor Chan Gailey, Campo will not pull double duty as head coach and defensive coordinator. AP

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Dave Campo walked the Dallas Cowboys sideline for 11 years before owner Jerry Jones realized he could be a good head coach.

On Wednesday, Jones made Campo the coach of one of the high-profile teams in sports, the Dallas Cowboys.

Campo, who has been with the team since Jones bought it in 1989, was ready for the job even before it was offered Wednesday morning. He's been ready practically since predecessor Chan Gailey was fired Jan. 11.

"Dave came within 24-36 hours and had a very detailed plan of how he would run the team," Jones said. "I knew we were on the same page."

Campo is the fifth coach the Cowboys have had and, like the other four, he's a first-time NFL head coach. Gailey, though, is the only one who didn't win a Super Bowl.

SI's Peter King's Analysis
SI's Peter King discusses who may be Dave Campo's offensive coordinator in Dallas.

It's going to be [New England Patriots' quarterbacks coach] Jack Reilly, who has been an offensive assistant in the NFL and who knows the exact type of offense that Troy Aikman likes to run.

Aikman loves to run the Norv Turner offense -- you spread the field wide, you're throwing a lot of deep balls and that the offense that Reilly runs. Look for Reilly to get that job. 

Campo, 52, was given a five-year contract worth $800,000 to $1 million per season. That's the same length as Gailey's deal, but for more money.

Campo understands the demands of the job because he's worked for Gailey, Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson. Campo was among the group of assistants Johnson brought with him from the University of Miami.

"I believe I have an advantage because I was here when we were 1-15 and I was here when we were Super Bowl champions," Campo said. "I want to bring back that championship attitude."

The team has lacked more than attitude.

The Cowboys have won only one playoff game since the last title in 1995 and are 24-24 the last three seasons with two first-round playoff losses.

Dallas was 8-8 this season, mainly because of problems with the Gailey-directed offense. Campo's unit allowed just 13 points in four of the losses, which is why he believes a quick turnaround is possible.

"I could quote a lot of statistics here, but let me give you just one: The Tennessee Titans were 8-8 last year and they're playing in the Super Bowl," he said.

Jones doesn't want Campo wearing two hats like Gailey did. New offensive and defensive coordinators could be hired as soon as Thursday.

New England quarterbacks coach Jack Reilly, who had the same job in Dallas in 1997, is the front-runner to lead the offense. He's expected to bring back the system Dallas used during its championship years.

The top candidate for the defensive job is secondary coach Mike Zimmer. Campo spent six seasons overseeing the secondary before becoming coordinator.

Jones' 15-day search for a coach hardly extended outside team headquarters, but he described the process as 'a thorough, thorough decision on my part.'

Jones said he never seriously considered hiring someone from outside the organization because he decided quickly that Campo or special teams coach Joe Avezzano had the qualities he wanted.

One of the attractions with Avezzano was the high profile he's cultivated as the vein-bulging screamer who stalks the sideline. Campo is more anonymous because he spent the last five years working from the coaches box.

But players say Campo -- whose small size, glasses and graying blonde hair make him look more like a college professor than a coach -- can be just as fiery.

"He may only be 5-6 or 5-7, but he really gets after guys," safety Darren Woodson said.

Troy Aikman has been with the Cowboys as long as Campo, but they've never worked directly together. The quarterback is looking forward to their new relationship.

"Dave is a very energetic guy, very enthusiastic," Aikman said. "Jimmy was a lot like that."

Campo's longtime experience working for Jones should come in handy considering the authority the owner-general manager wields.

"Jerry and I have the same philosophy and that's to win the Super Bowl," Campo said. "We've been together and we know how we each think. I think that makes it a little easier."

Campo and kicking coordinator Steve Hoffman are the only coaches remaining from Johnson's initial staff.

Campo is the fourth member of the Class of '89 to become an NFL coach, joining Dave Shula, Norv Turner and Dave Wannstedt. Butch Davis, who was defensive coordinator after Wannstedt and before Campo, is the coach at the University of Miami.

Campo also continues a trend of teams promoting assistants to coaches. The New York Jets did it with Al Groh and the Miami Dolphins with Wannstedt.

Related information
Dave Campo believes he has unique insight into Dallas' decline. (141 K)
Troy Aikman thinks Campo deserves the job. (78 K)
Jerry Jones says he's always thought highly of Dave Campo. (104 K)
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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