Coach of the day
Jason Garrett will coach the Cowboys for the rest of the regular season now that Wade Phillips has been fired, but what about next season? Unless Garrett completely turns around the Cowboys, one of the most high-profile coaching jobs in sports will be open in the offseason. "The national tendency is to say, 'Who would want to coach for (owner) Jerry Jones?' But there are not many owners that will provide the resources for a head coach to be successful,'' Fox analyst and former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman said. "No one wants to win more than Jerry Jones. But there are some real challenges, and how you navigate them is going to determine your success with the Cowboys. You'd better be a strong individual.'' There are plenty of candidates. Here's a look at some who could end up in Dallas:
Some wonder if two strong personalities such as Jones and Gruden could work together. But Jimmy Johnson has a strong personality and had success under Jones. Same with Barry Switzer. Gruden isn't interested in rebuilding, and it would seem the Cowboys are much closer to winning than, say, the Bills and Panthers. But would Gruden be happy just coaching and letting Jones run the overall show?
The feeling is Cowher, who left the Steelers after the 2006 season, will be ready to get back into coaching next season. But he loves North Carolina and might prefer the Panthers, who could part ways with John Fox. Plus, wouldn't it seem strange for someone so associated with the Steelers to join the Cowboys? Not that it will factor into Cowher's decision if offered the job. But this could: Cowher wants more power than Jones is probably willing to give him.
There is suddenly lots of buzz about the Stanford coach and brother of Ravens coach John Harbaugh. But if Rich Rodriguez doesn't survive this season at the University of Michigan, Harbaugh could be the candidate there. After all, he went to Michigan.
If Fox is bounced from Carolina, the Cowboys will take a long look. It's not that Fox is a bad coach. He just has a bad team these days. But don't forget this is a guy who led the Panthers to two division crowns and a Super Bowl appearance.
Any time there's an opening, from the NFL to peewees, Dungy's name is thrown out there. But this doesn't seem like a good fit at all. Anyway, the word is Dungy wants to spend the next couple of years watching his son, who is a freshman receiver at Oregon.
The Jets offensive coordinator is going to be a head coach someday, but hiring him might not be enough of a "splash'' for Jones. You could say the same thing about Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (brother of Jets coach Rex and son of former NFL coach Buddy) and Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who might replace Brad Childress in Minnesota.
There are plenty of retreads out there such as Marty Schottenheimer, Brian Billick and Dom Capers. Actually, any of those would probably make a good coach in Dallas and would be willing to stay out of Jones' way. But in some ways, it would feel like the Cowboys are replacing Wade Phillips with another Wade Phillips.
Announcers of the day
As I told you last week, ESPN has booted Jon Miller and Joe Morgan out of the Sunday night baseball booth after 21 years. It was time. Miller and Morgan had grown a little too big for their britches.
Both knew a ton about the game, but they seemed to remind you constantly that they knew a ton about the game and started to come off as arrogant, especially Morgan. Miller might stay on as the voice on ESPN Radio's Sunday night and postseason coverage.
So who will replace the two?
For the play-by-play job, I'd personally prefer Sean McDonough, who was CBS's lead baseball announcer in the early 1990s and is already in ESPN's stable on college football and basketball. But word is ESPN is going to go with Dan Shulman, who mostly calls college basketball for ESPN but also has done baseball.
Orel Hershiser, who was the third man in the booth with Miller and Morgan last season, likely will stay to partner with Shulman.
That seems like a good call, but it's too bad TBS's Ron Darling and John Smoltz aren't available to jump ship. Those two have become the best baseball analysts in the business, and the Sunday night job on ESPN is way more high-profile than the Sunday afternoon game on TBS.
Team of the day
ESPN college basketball analysts Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale, speaking on a conference call this week, see defending champion Duke as the best in college hoops.
"I think Duke has got the best personnel and the best team to start out the season," Bilas said. "That, obviously, doesn't mean they will be the best team at the end. I think one thing that Mike Krzyzewski has done throughout his career, he has gotten his team to play earlier at the highest level. I think his team will look good early out of the gate. I think this team will get better, but this is a younger team than he had last year in spots."
Vitale added, "I don't think there is any doubt if you look at the nation right now, Duke is head and shoulders better."
The team with the best chance to challenge Duke for a national title appears to be Michigan State. The two teams will meet Dec. 1 at Duke.
Speaking of ESPN, the network has added three new analysts. Former Indiana star Dan Dakich will be a game and studio analyst. He will mostly work Big Ten games on Tuesdays and Saturdays with announcer Dave O'Brien. Former N.C. State standout Dereck Whittenburg and Sean Farnharm, who played at UCLA, will work games on ESPNU.
The basketball version of College GameDay returns Jan. 15 with Vitale, Bilas, Bob Knight, Digger Phelps and Hubert Davis again joining host Rece Davis.
And have I mentioned that it's way too early to be playing college basketball? I've said it before, and I'll say it again: College hoops gets lost in the shuffle at this time of year and would be better served waiting until college football's regular season quiets down in mid December to crank up its season.
Three things that popped into my head
1 He might have won the Gold Glove. But with his lack of range, there is no way Derek Jeter is the best defensive shortstop in the American League.
2 If the NFL owners ever have a meeting during which they vote for an 18-game schedule, they should first be forced to read aloud the injury reports from the previous season for every NFL team.
3 I was stunned when I heard this on Monday Night Football: Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, below, has more receptions (925) than Hall of Famers John Stallworth (537) and Lynn Swann (336) combined.