JAIME ARON Associated Press IRVING, Texas -
Jerry Jones once said any of 500 coaches could have won a Super Bowl with the talent he'd assembled for the Dallas Cowboys. Since uttering that memorable line, he's gone through Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and Bill Parcells.
That leaves 496 candidates to choose from this time around.
Jones was thrown into another coaching search when Parcells retired Monday. While the team's owner-general manager has long maintained he wanted Parcells back, Jones surely already has a list of candidates in mind.
Who is on it remains guesswork. Anyone is possible, with Jones confident in the drawing powers of his wallet and the mystique of the Cowboys.
"Winning is the name of the game," Jones said in a statement Monday. "We have made progress on that front in the recent past and we will continue to build on that progress with the belief that we have to do better."
Jones is antsy because the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996 - and because they're moving into a $1 billion, 100,000-seat stadium in 2009. That's pressure enough to make sure he gets it right.
A key issue will be control, primarily how much Jones needs. Of the five coaches he's hired, only Parcells and Jimmy Johnson had loud voices in personnel decisions.
If Jones is willing to keep sharing, he could go after a big name, like Southern California's Pete Carroll. Another intriguing option is Bill Cowher, who left the Steelers for time off but might be willing to return for enough money and power.
But if Jones is itching to call the shots again, he'll have to go with someone just happy to have the job. That could be an up-and-coming NFL assistant, like Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, or a college coach, like LSU's Les Miles, a Dallas assistant from 1998-2000. Oklahoma's Bob Stoops took himself out of the running Tuesday, releasing a statement that said, "I want to make it clear that I am not interested in any other coaching positions at this time."
Jones' previous coaching searches don't provide much insight because the circumstances were so different.
He started with a pair of old pals in Johnson and Switzer. Then he went with Gailey and Campo, obscure coordinators willing to work cheap and let Jones call the shots. After that, Jones' reputation was shot, but he lucked out when Parcells said he was interested.
Dallas went 34-32 under Parcells, losing two playoff games. That sure beats 15-33 under Campo - but it wasn't as good as Gailey. He won a division title and made the playoffs in both of his seasons, plus gave Jones the payday of hosting a wild-card game.
It's hard to say how the Parcells experiment affected Jones' approach. In his statement, Jones said it showed his "willingness to embrace a different philosophy and approach toward winning" and added that it reinforced his "willingness to be flexible."
How much remains to be seen.
To Cowboys fans, the ultimate flexibility would be bending over backward and hiring Johnson. Since that is unlikely - after all, Johnson inspired the "any of 500 coaches" line - plenty of folks would consider San Francisco offensive coordinator Norv Turner the next best thing.
Turner was the offensive coordinator on Johnson's two Super Bowl winners and remains beloved by Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. However, Turner went 59-83-1 in seven years as a coach with Washington and two in Oakland.
Supporters note that neither organization was conducive to winning. They also like the idea of Turner grooming another young quarterback in Tony Romo and seeing what he can do with all the other offensive talent.
But Jones may want to lean more toward defense, especially since Parcells spent the last two years building the roster for a 3-4 scheme.
San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips knows all about the 3-4. He also knows how to run a team, having coached Denver and Buffalo, with interim stints in New Orleans and Atlanta. He even knows what it's like to replace a Super Bowl coach, having followed Dan Reeves with the Broncos and Marv Levy with the Bills.
He's plenty interested, too.
"Well yeah, sure," he said Tuesday. "From all I'm hearing it would seem natural. But I have no control over that. I'm just waiting to see if they start the process, if I'm in it. It'd be nice."
Jones also must consider a minority candidate. Dennis Green, recently fired by Arizona, is a name that's popped up before in Dallas. A name with a Texas tie is Mike Singletary, the assistant head coach of the 49ers.
Also remember Jones loves making a splash.
Maybe that would be paying the "Herculean buyout" the Notre Dame athletic director says is on Charlie Weis' contract. Or going way off the radar and seeing if Urban Meyer can do for Dallas what he did for Florida despite an offensive scheme best suited for college.
There's also the chance Chicago doesn't give Lovie Smith the raise and extension beyond 2007 that he wants after leading the Bears to the Super Bowl, and the club lets Jones take a crack at him.
Regardless of how it plays out, the seventh coach in Cowboys history will have a big job on his hands.
And if he can't handle it, Jones still will have 495 choices left.