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Monday, December 30
Campo fired after three consecutive 5-11 records

Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Dave Campo was fired as coach of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, ending a dismal three-year tenure and possibly clearing the way for Bill Parcells to take over.

Mon., Dec. 30
Dave Campo's firing was more about circumstances than his ability to coach. He and Jerry Jones had established a strong working relationship. And I think Jerry Jones, deep down, knows he has been involved in too much. And the only way Jerry could pull himself away was by getting a new head coach.

What the Cowboys need now is Bill Parcells. Their young talent needs a head coach who will be a dictator and a leader. It has to be his team, not the players' team. They wouldn't get that with Denny Green, who has shown that he will let the players dictate and rule. A young player like Antonio Bryant, for instance, needs serious direction, and Parcells would bring that with an iron fist.

Campo, the fifth coach in team history, is the first to leave with a losing record (15-33). He's also the first to never win a division title or make the playoffs.

''The only regret I have is that we didn't get it done,'' said Campo, who has been with the club since 1989.

The announcement was expected for more than a week. Owner Jerry Jones began talking with Parcells about two weeks ago and their negotiations have turned serious in recent days. Jones also spoke with former Minnesota Vikings coach Dennis Green.

Parcells has been close to deals before and walked away, including last year when he signed with Tampa Bay, then changed his mind. Because of that contract, the Buccaneers said Sunday they should have been asked for permission to talk to Parcells and want compensation.

Jones said he has no timetable to hire a new coach, but added, ''I hope it can happen quickly.''

Jones said part of the reason he made the move was to bring in a proven, successful NFL coach. All five coaches the Cowboys have had were first-time head coaches in the NFL.

''This change is more about a change in philosophy, not about what Dave didn't do,'' Jones said.

Dave Campo walks off the field Sunday after his final game as head coach of the Cowboys.

''There's never been an individual that has appreciated more the opportunity that he got. There's never been anyone that has worked any harder, any more diligent, any more loyal, with a positive attitude about getting the job done than Dave Campo.''

Under Campo, the Cowboys were racked with instability and injuries.

After going 5-11 his first two seasons, better things were expected this fall, especially from Jones, who spent $40 million in bonuses sprucing up the roster. Instead, Dallas went 5-11 again.

Campo was never above .500 in a season, and his teams never won more than two consecutive games. The Cowboys had only five 10-loss seasons in 40 years before Campo arrived.

Dallas is 39-57 since its last playoff victory, in 1996, and hasn't made the postseason since 1999.

There's never been an individual that has appreciated more the opportunity that he got. There's never been anyone that has worked any harder, any more diligent, any more loyal, with a positive attitude about getting the job done than Dave Campo.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Jones has ousted all five coaches in team history and hired four of them. Campo moved up from defensive coordinator when Chan Gailey was fired after the 1999 season.

Being head coach of ''America's Team'' remains one of the most high profile in all of sports, thanks to the standard set by Tom Landry and maintained by Jimmy Johnson.

Jones' control has diminished its glory, though, but there's reason to believe the owner-general manager is ready to scale back if he hires a strong, proven coach such as Parcells.

Campo moved up from defensive coordinator when Chan Gailey was fired after the 1999 season.

His first head coaching job on any level had an ominous start when quarterback Troy Aikman sustained a concussion and newly acquired receiver Joey Galloway went down for the season with a knee injury in the 2000 opener.

Aikman's release after the season severely limited the salary cap in 2001. Losing him also started a carousel at quarterback -- seven starters over Campo's three seasons.

The Cowboys had high hopes this season, buoyed by proven players added to an already strong defense and a new offensive coordinator. Then they opened with a defeat against to expansion Houston in the opener.

Campo: a brief history
As Cowboys head coach: Team went 5-11 in each of three seasons. Cumulative mark of 15-33 makes him first coach in franchise history to leave with a losing record. Teams never won three games in a row and never made the playoffs.

Highlight: Five straight victories over Washington Redskins, extending team's streak to 10 in a row. Ended with 20-14 loss Sunday.

Lowlight: Deciding to try a field goal on fourth-and-1 against San Francisco when a first down would've sealed third straight victory. Kick missed and 49ers rallied to win, erasing 10-point deficit over final seven minutes. Was seventh time Dallas lost this season when leading or tied in fourth quarter.

Rest of Dallas tenure: Arrived in 1989 as a defensive assistant. Became secondary coach in 1991, then named defensive coordinator in 1995. Was part of staffs that won Super Bowls following 1992, '93 and '95 seasons.

Previously: Campo had 11 jobs over 18 years, all as a collegiate assistant. They include alma mater Central Connecticut State (1971-72), Albany (1973), Bridgeport (1974), Pittsburgh (1975), Washington State (1976), Boise State (1977-79), Oregon State (1980), Weber State (1981-82), Iowa State (1983), Syracuse (1984-86), Miami (1987-88).
-- Associated Press

Dallas got to 3-3, then lost four in a row. Two consecutive victories followed, but with a chance to make it three, the Cowboys blew a 10-point lead over San Francisco in the final seven minutes.

Jones went on a profanity-filled tirade in the locker room. He was most upset that Campo tried a field goal on fourth-and-1 from the 28 when a first down likely would've ended the game.

It wasn't the first time Campo went conservative in a crucial moment. And it became the seventh time this season Dallas lost after leading or being tied in the fourth quarter.

Jones later said he was angry about losing, not with Campo, adding that he'd evaluate the coach after the season. There were indications he preferred to give Campo another chance.

But after a lopsided defeat to the New York Giants the next week, Jones met with Parcells. Word of that meeting spread just before the Cowboys played the Philadelphia Eagles and they were beaten soundly again.

Campo came to Dallas in 1989 as the last assistant added to Johnson's first staff. Campo had been Johnson's secondary coach at the University of Miami; it was his 11th college coaching job over 18 years.

After two years as defensive assistant, he became secondary coach then defensive coordinator. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl his first year as coordinator. He held the job four more seasons, then was picked over several assistants to replace Gailey.

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