If he's out, TV wants Johnson

March 28, 1994|By Mike Fisher | Mike Fisher,Fort Worth Star-Telegram

IRVING, Texas -- Coach Jimmy Johnson will be offered a position in the broadcast booth with the Fox Network if he leaves the Dallas Cowboys, network executive sports producer Ed Goren said yesterday.

"I want Jimmy on the field looking across at Buddy Ryan twice a year, but if he's not happy there, I want him in the booth as part of our Fox team," Goren said. "He's already like a Howard Cosell because you either love Jimmy or you hate him, but everyone knows him. He's got carte blanche to come over to Fox."

Johnson and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones were scheduled to meet today in a session that sources said could result in Johnson being given a financial settlement and his immediate release or Johnson remaining with Dallas for one more season.

Jones is obligated to pay Johnson about $1 million annually through 1999 if he remains the team's coach. Jones' obligation is erased if Johnson quits, but he owes Johnson around $4 million if he fires him.

Johnson said in December that while he has "done some things in that area, I just don't think broadcasting is for me. . . I just don't know that I'd enjoy it."

But Goren, who has been familiar with Johnson's on-air personality for almost a decade, disagrees.

"He's a natural in whatever he does," said Goren, who as a CBS Sports executive producer used to bring then-U. of Miami coach Johnson into the studio for commentary.

While Jones is laying the groundwork for Johnson's eventual departure -- sources said that he is considering Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, Cowboys assistant Butch Davis and ex-Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer as possible successors -- Johnson said he will not leave the Cowboys unless he has either financial compensation or another job.

It is no secret, as two close friends of Johnson's noted yesterday, that Johnson would like to someday succeed Dolphins coach Don Shula in his adopted hometown of Miami. But for now, only the expansion Charlotte Panthers have an NFL opening, and they don't begin play until 1995.

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