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Cowboys Not Close To Hiring Coach

The Dallas Cowboys' coaching search carousel is expected to spin into next week with owner Jerry Jones still trying to replace Barry Switzer and now needing an offensive coordinator to fill Ernie Zampese's job.

Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis interviewed with Jones for a second time Thursday. It brings Lewis even with former San Francisco coach George Seifert and former UCLA coach Terry Donahue with two interviews each.

Jones also has another staff opening to fill because of Zampese's departure to the New England Patriots with one-year left on his Dallas contract. Dallas was 20th in the NFL in offense last year and next-to-last in the league in scoring touchdowns inside the 20-yard line.

Zampese came to Dallas three years ago after Norv Turner left to take the Washington job. Zampese got a Super Bowl ring when Dallas beat Pittsburgh 27-17 in Tempe.

Jones had no immediate comment on Zampese's departure. Jones gave Zampese permission to talk to the Patriots, and hadn't figured him in the Cowboys' plans for 1998.

For a replacement, Jones has his eye on Brian Billick of the Minnesota Vikings, who are claiming the Cowboys might have tampered by talking to him at the Senior Bowl. The Vikings could demand draft picks from the Cowboys.

Billick was trying to get permission to talk to Jones about the open offensive coordinator's job with the Cowboys.

Seifert and Donahue interviewed twice with Jones during Super Bowl week. Lewis first visited with Jones in San Diego the morning after the Packers' 31-24 loss to Denver.

Miami Hurricanes coach Butch Davis, a former Dallas defensive coordinator, had a four-hour visit with Jones on Wednesday but said, "I'm definitely not a candidate."

Davis tried to slip out a back door at Valley Ranch without being seen.

Switzer resigned Jan. 9 after four years with the Cowboys, during which they won a Super Bowl. His downfall was a 6-10 season and a 17-17 record the last two years.

Jones said his decision on the fourth coach in Cowboys history "is unlikely to be done this week."

He has had a hand in the fate of every Dallas coach, firing Tom Landry, hiring Jimmy Johnson, whom he paid off, then hiring and disposing of Switzer.

Jones said the fact the NFL combine is next week in Indianapolis would put no pressure on hurrying his decision.

"I'm exploring every avenue toward returning this organization to where it should be," he said.

Lewis has interviewed in the past with Atlanta and Arizona. However, he's not previously had two job interviews with the same team.

"I know they want to win and have some great players, so it's a job you'd definitely be interested in," Lewis said. "I'm in the semifinals this time."

Jones said the day Switzer resigned that he wanted a coach who could quickly end the Cowboys' downward spiral.

"I'm not expecting us to take a very long road back to the top," Jones said. "I beieve we will be able to field a team capable of challenging for a Super Bowl berth."

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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