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January 31, 2014

On The Rebound: Garrett looking a little Tubby

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL version of the Kentucky Wildcats and Jason Garrett is starting to look a lot like Tubby Smith.

The two programs are easy to compare. They are the best of the best in their respective sports. They sell the most tickets, sell the most merchandise, and grab the most headlines. Nothing short of a championship is considered a success. The coaching comparison is a little more elaborate.

In 1997, Smith became the 20th head coach in the history of the University of Kentucky. Smith’s first team won an NCAA title despite having no first team All-Americans and no NBA lottery picks. It isn’t Tubby’s first season that relates to Garrett, it’s the last nine. He would go nine seasons without reaching a Final Four and his double-digit losses led to the nickname 10-loss Tubby. Smith left Kentucky quietly in 2007 to accept a less stressful position at Minnesota.

Garrett did not have the luxury of assuming a program with the success that Smith inherited from Rick Pitino. The Cowboys have missed the playoffs four straight seasons and finished 8-8 the last three years. What he did inherit was the overwhelming expectations and low margin of error that is the Dallas Cowboys.

Garrett has one season remaining on his contract and it very well could be his last. Apparently Garrett does not want next season to be his finale.

Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan was handpicked by team owner Jerry Jones. What Callahan will not be doing next season is calling plays. Garrett will move Scott Lineham into that role.

Jones choice at defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, was demoted by Garrett as well with Rod Marinelli taking over that side of the football.

Garrett, like Tubby, prefers to fight his battles outside the public eye. There are things both coaches did not like about the teams they chose to lead. Tubby decided an exit would be in his best interest. It might be the best solution for Garrett as well. But first he is going to try to do things his way.

Kentucky went from Smith to Billy Gillespie. We know how that worked out. So the best thing for the Cowboys to do would be to give Garrett an extension. Otherwise they could be end up with their own Billy Gillespie. Or they could go ahead and try to hire their John Calipari.

I wonder what Nick Saban is doing next year?

mhoward@sentinel-echo.com

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