Switzer makes easy pass from college to pros except for testy egos

ON THE NFL

November 20, 1994|By VITO STELLINO

Barry Switzer insists that it's easier to coach in the NFL than in college.

"It'd take two hours to talk about that," the Dallas Cowboys coach said last week. "I'd first start with [dealing with] the NCAA. I can start with 120 players vs. 50. I can start with every crisis and personal problem an athlete has [in college], he comes to see me. He doesn't walk through my door to say, 'Coach, I made an A on my test, or how's your day going.' He comes in there with a problem I've got to deal with.

"There's tremendous pressure day-to-day, academics, I can go on and on and on. I don't even want to talk about it. But, hey, I don't have those problems here. I'm only dealing with 50 [players], they're professionals and it's a job for them."

When he was asked about the four auto accidents his Cowboys players have been involved in, Switzer came up with one of his typical one-liners.

"We've got to put these kids in driving school or let their mommas pick them up," he said.

Switzer sounds like a man having a good time as his team prepares for today's game against the Washington Redskins. Even after last week's loss to the San Francisco 49ers, his team is 8-2.

Switzer showed last week, though, that the job may not turn out to be as easy as he thinks it is.

Switzer is always quotable, but his fast-talking ways may wind up creating problems. Last week, for instance, he suggested that Emmitt Smith doesn't put in enough time in the weight room.

Weight training is all the rage in football right now and the Cowboys -- particularly running backs coach Joe Brodsky -- have long felt that Smith doesn't spend enough time at it.

But former coach Jimmy Johnson was shrewd enough never to knock Smith publicly about it. With Smith performing as he does, Johnson was not going to question him.

Switzer quickly realized he made a mistake and met with Smith to assure him that things were fine, and Smith brushed it all off.

He said he does work on weights and added that, despite Brodsky's complaints, "it ain't stopped me from getting 1,500 yards, has it? It ain't stopped me from doing my job, has it? No, it has not."

Switzer may be right about the NFL being easier to coach in than college, but he forgets he's dealing with king-sized egos in the pros.

Salary cap victim

Add Jack Pardee's name to the list of salary cap victims.

The Houston Oilers were one of the high-paying teams hurt by the salary cap, and Pardee paid the price when the team fell to 1-9 and he was fired last week.

"How do you cut $12 million off the budget and get better at the same time?" Pardee said.

It didn't help when the Oilers decided to give Cody Carlson a big contract and ship out Warren Moon because they felt they

couldn't afford both. It turned out Carlson couldn't carry a team, and Moon -- as he's proving in Minnesota -- still can.

But firing Pardee in midseason and handing defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher the job through 1997 didn't make much sense. It's better to wait until the end of the season and interview the top candidates.

Since 1985, there have been 14 in-season coaching changes. Art Shell, who guided the Los Angeles Raiders to a 7-5 finish in 1989 after Mike Shanahan was fired after a 1-3 start, is the only one to coach more than three games and have a winning record.

The last coach to go during the season was Ron Meyer of the Indianapolis Colts, who got the pink slip from Bob Irsay at 0-5 in 1991. Rick Venturi replaced him and went 1-10.

The franchise game

As Baltimore continues its fight for an NFL franchise, the most significant development last week may have been Parris Glendening's election as governor.

The indications are that Glendening will favor keeping the funding in place for a new stadium.

If the funding stays in place, Baltimore remains a player in the franchise game -- even if Tampa comes up with local investors to match Peter Angelos' bid for the Buccaneers.

If Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown is right, there might be more teams on the market in the coming years. "A lot of teams in the NFL are frightened about the future," he said. "They see ominous signs developing. That's why it wouldn't surprise me if teams move."

With costs escalating, teams that don't have new stadiums might find themselves in a financial bind.

Brown also said Baltimore is "starved for football and a great football city."

Admitting mistakes

It's easy to make a mistake. Admitting it is more difficult.

That's why it was unusual that New York Giants coach Dan Reeves publicly admitted he made two mistakes.

The first was when he didn't take a safety when the Giants, leading the Cardinals 9-3, faced a fourth-and-seven on their 7 in the fourth quarter. They punted to the Arizona 46 and the Cardinals drove for the winning score.

Reeves should have taken a safety to make it 9-5 and punted from the 20, but he didn't think about it until he was taking a shower after the game.

The other mistake was in telling Kent Graham he would get more than one week as the Giants' starting quarterback. When Graham was so ineffective against the Cardinals, Reeves had to go back to Dave Brown, but admitted he shouldn't have told Graham he would get more than a week.

"Sort of reminded me of George Bush . . . read my lips," a chagrined Reeves said. "You don't like to make a statement that doesn't hold up."

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