Is Cowboys Coordinator Mike Nolan Also His Own Secondary Coach?

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - New Dallas Cowboys bosses Mike McCarthy and Mike Nolan went into their interviews of potential hires as secondary coaches with open minds. This freshly-assembled staff already, after a week of work inside The Star (so inside that seven days into his employment McCarthy had literally yet to venture outside the expansive team HQ at The Star), was quickly populated with old hands and McCarthy-familiar faces.

And then came a fairly random interview with someone that is clearly not from the McCarthy "tree'' or the Nolan "tree.'' How do we know this?

"We're still trying to figure out whether he wants to go by "Maurice,'' or by "Mo,'' admits McCarthy in confirming Dallas' hire of Texas A&M assistant Maurice Linguist.

"Mo,'' Linguist finally told his bosses-to-be at the end of the visit, "is fine.''

And so it is. Dallas has a new helper in the secondary who represents a new branch on the tree.

Also coming to The Star as a secondary coach is Al Harris. Now that name, McCarthy knows, as Harris played for Green Bay as a two-time Pro Bowler and has been climbing the coaching ladder as an assistant in Kansas City.

Harris is 45, Linguist, a Mesquite native, is 35. There is something to be said for "new blood and fresh ideas,'' but is there a limit?

Last year, the Cowboys now-gone defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was also the defensive line coach (with help from former players Leon Lett and Andre Gurode). And the sort-of "co-coordinator'' was the now-gone Kris Richard, but he also coached the secondary.

Our colleague Bryan Broaddus floats a thought here: Maybe the reason the Cowboys have been rather vague about the specific duties of Linguist and Harris is because the actual day-to-day secondary coach won't be Linguist or Harris ... but will actually be Mike Nolan, who at age 60 has seen and done it all in football, the son of an NFL head coach who became a head coach himself.

It's a smart thought when we consider the multi-tasking done by last year's staff (even as Jason Garrett boasted 25 assistants!) and it's a smart thought when we consider that:

*McCarthy won't just be the "head coach''; he's also the hands-on offensive supervisor.

*Joe Philbin might be more than the "offensive line coach''; we've heard talk of him being named "assistant head coach,'' and Philbin might, in terms of duties, also be the "running game coordinator.''

*Doug Nussmeier is the "QB coach''; but we've heard he might be McCarthy's direct line to learning the offensive "language'' that he'll leave in place from the previous regime.

It's a sensible solution to the tug-of-war question about whether to hire new, young coaches (not to mention people of color) or whether a head coach must have by his side old hands whom he trusts: If Mike Nolan is overseeing not only the development of his players but also of his young secondary staffers, Al Harris might better make a name for himself in coaching, and Maurice Linguist might better teach the football world that "Mo'' is fine.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

I kind of like the idea of coaches having more then one role within the team. It adds a lot of different perspective and generates ideas for improvement on both sides of the ball.