DALLAS -- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has some unsolicited advice for fellow billionaire Jerry Jones: Stick to your guns on Jason Garrett.
“I think Jerry would be crazy to fire Jason Garrett,” Cuban said Thursday of the Dallas Cowboys owner, without prompting on the subject. “Not that he would, but the hardest thing to do -- and I’ve said this before -- is hire a head coach. That’s the hardest thing to do in professional sports, in my opinion.
“I think unless a coach loses the locker room, regardless of the sport, or there’s just something fundamentally wrong, you go with it. Then you go out and you get the best players you can and you go to war. I’m not an NFL expert by a long shot, but I don’t seem to see any of those while watching the Cowboys fans as a fan.”
Garrett’s job security is a subject of much discussion with the Cowboys in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, although Jones has been adamant that Garrett would return next season. If the Cowboys lose to the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday's de facto NFC East title game, Dallas will have finished 8-8 in each of Garrett’s first three full seasons as head coach.
How can an owner justify so much patience with the process without any tangible progress?
Cuban said it’s counterproductive to be swayed by public opinion on a position so crucial to a franchise’s success.
“Because you don’t care about the media,” Cuban said. “The last thing you care about is how the media responds. Maybe you come out after the fact and explain your logic so everyone understands and you have some transparency.
“I don’t give a damn about what Twitter says or what the feedback is on Twitter or in the media, because that’s the worst way to make a decision. You’ve got to do what you know is right, based off the information that you have. I don’t think Jerry will do anything different than that. It’s exactly what I would do. We’ve had situations where everybody was questioning us. I told you guys many a time: ‘Talk all you want. We’ll still be here figuring it out.’”
Cuban, who has employed three head coaches and fired only one during his 14-year ownership tenure, said his rule of thumb is to never any consider firing a coach unless he has an upgrade in mind. The attributes Cuban considers crucial for a head coach are “knowledge of the game, respect of the players and ability to adjust and learn.”
“I think Jason, from all I know, exemplifies that,” said Cuban, who said he has met Garrett a few times but doesn’t know the Cowboys coach well. “You may not like what the Cowboys have done on the field, but I’ve never looked at them and said they’re not playing hard. I mean, they always look like they’re busting ass. You’ve got guys playing hurt, guys working to get back on the field.”
According to Cuban, the chances are that the Cowboys’ inability to get off the mediocrity treadmill is not a coaching issue. He said it’s the front office’s job to put the coach in the best possible position to succeed.
“You look and see what you can add and what you can do to keep them healthy,” Cuban said. “A lot of guys are getting hurt. You have to ask how, why and if you can do anything to prevent that.
“It’s like us. We didn’t look to say, ‘OK, 41-41, this is OK. What do we do to get a little bit better?’ We basically blew it up. Nothing to do with Rick [Carlisle]. We didn’t look at Rick and say, ‘Well, you were only 41-41, 36-30 the year before.’ It was never a reflection of Rick.”
Asked if he would fire the Cowboys’ general manager, which just happens to be Jones, Cuban was diplomatic. He noted that the Cowboys seemed to use a group approach for that job, as the Mavs do, with the owner having the final say.
“I would just look to see what I could change,” Cuban said. “Is it talent evaluation in the first round? Second round? Injuries? Use of quarterbacks? All of this is qualified by saying, I have no f------ clue. I don’t know football at all.”