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Sports - Google News

by Mike Fisher    Wed, Jan 18, 2006, 09:14 AM

As first reported in this space on Jan. 10 -- and suggested at the bottom of a Dallas Morning News story a week later -- Cowboys receivers coach Todd Haley is the next man in line to move up to offensive coordinator in place of Sean Payton. And now that Payton's depature to New Orleans to be the head coach there is official, the game of "Title-On-The-Door Checkers'' begins.

We were told on Tuesday afternoon that Payton would like to take with him to New Orleans assistants Tony Sparano and Gary Gibbs. Sparano is Dallas' offensive line coach and "running game coordinator.'' Gibbs, the former Oklahoma head coach, supervises Dallas linebackers.

What happens in the wake of this?

Possibility No. 1: Haley moves up to offensive coordinator or "passing game coordinator.'' Assistant Anthony Lynn gets interviewed to be the "running game coordinator.'' Parcells lets Sparano out of his contract reluctantly. He lets Gibbs leave. ... without, we hear, the same sort of reluctance.

Possibility No. 2: Parcells decides Sparano is too important to let go. (A dubious belief, given the work of the Cowboys' O-line, but a possibility). He promotes Sparano to "assistant head coach.'' Haley gets to move up a little (passing game coordinator?), Gibbs still gets to move on.

Possibility No. 3: It's highly unlikely, but possible, that Parcells will go outside the staff to fill the o-coordinator job. Want to fantasize about "name brands'' like Mike Martz or Dan Henning? Don't bother.

Keep in mind also the possibility of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer following Payton out the Valley Ranch door by landing a head job elsehwhere. That would send in motion another game of "Title-On-The-Door Checkers,'' with secondary coach Todd Bowles our sources' top pick as the new Cowboys defensive coordinator.

You heard it here first -- and hopefully, once again seven days ahead of the mainstream news outlets.

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