Grantham to finish season for Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys didn't take long to hire Paul Pasqualoni as their new defensive line coach. It actually took a matter of minutes.

The University of Georgia announced the hiring of Todd Grantham as its defensive coordinator Friday, and shortly thereafter, the Cowboys announced they had hired Pasqualoni to replace him.

Grantham will finish the season with the Cowboys, but Pasqualoni already has reported to work at the Valley Ranch facility. Pasqualoni, who was fired this week as the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator, was a Cowboys assistant for three seasons. He coached tight ends in 2005 and linebackers the next two seasons.

"It happened very, very quickly," Pasqualoni said Friday. "To come back and be part of this is very exciting to me. It doesn't happen very often, and I'm excited and really looking forward to it."

Grantham informed the Cowboys at the beginning of Thursday morning's practice that he intended to accept Georgia's offer. Owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Wade Phillips agreed to attempt to replace Grantham with Pasqualoni, who went 107-59-1 with nine bowl appearances as Syracuse University's head coach from 1991 to 2004.

Jones got on the phone, and the deal was done 10 minutes later.

"We're really pleased to have Paul back," Phillips said. "He's an outstanding coach. I was lucky to have him when we came in here. He was one of the best coaches I've been around, and I think we're lucky to have him back."

Grantham spent the past two seasons as the Cowboys' defensive line coach, helping nose tackle Jay Ratliff earn two Pro Bowl invitations and one All-Pro selection.

Grantham, the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator the previous three seasons, contributed to a defense that allowed the fewest points in the NFC this season.

"It's been great to have Todd," Phillips said. "He's contributed a tremendous amount to the defense. He's grossly overqualified to be a defensive line coach. I knew that he'd be a coordinator pretty quick or even a head coach. He has all those qualities. We appreciate all he's done."

Grantham's contract with the Cowboys expires at the end of the season. The rest of the team's assistant coaches are under contract for next season.

Grantham worked at Virginia Tech (1990-95) and Michigan State (1996-98) before spending the past 11 seasons in the NFL.

"It is a SEC school," Grantham said. "It's a chance to be a coordinator at a school like that. I do feel like there's potential there to win and win big. I felt like it was an opportunity there."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.