Cowboys already wishing Turner luck with new job


ATLANTA -- The Dallas Cowboys are taking it for granted that Norv Turner is going to be the next head coach of the Washington Redskins.

"We wish him all the best of luck," tight end Jay Novacek said after the Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII, 30-13, Sunday night in Turner's likely last game as the team's offensive coordinator.

"Unfortunately, the way it sounds, he'll probably go to Washington. We'd just as soon have him someplace else," Novacek said.

Although the Phoenix Cardinals are expected to make a run at Turner -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones introduced Turner to Cardinals officials at the league's Friday night party -- Turner seems committed to Washington, despite his contention that it's not final.

Turner returned home after the Super Bowl yesterday with his family before making plans to fly to Washington today to meet with Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.

A Redskins source said the club plans a news conference tomorrow to announce the hiring.

Before the playoffs, the Redskins had planned to hire Turner to replace Richie Petitbon, who was fired after 10 months on the job. But commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled Turner couldn't sign with another team until the playoffs were over.

Still the Redskins had a lead on the Cardinals, whose owner, Bill Bidwill, didn't fire coach Joe Bugel until last week. Turner said before he left Atlanta that the Cardinals didn't call him yesterday morning, and Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said the team hasn't called to ask permission to talk to Turner.

Looking forward to becoming a head coach, Turner said: "It's the end to something that has been great for me, and I'm looking forward to the next step."

The Cowboys lauded Turner for the job he's done the past three years.

Running back Emmitt Smith said: "I think our offensive scheme is a major reason why we're so successful. Norv gave players on the offensive side an opportunity to be the best players at their position. He gave me the opportunity to become the running back I want to be."

Wide receiver Michael Irvin said: "I promise you, I'd give up some of my salary to keep him here."

Johnson said of Turner: "He's got good people skills. He's got a great knowledge of the game and really done a great job of bringing them along. He's done a great job. As much as anything else, he's done a great job with [quarterback] Troy [Aikman]."

Aikman said: "We all realize he gave us three years of everything he had, and now he's going to get an opportunity to do something that he rightfully deserves and we wish him well."

Johnson said the Cowboys will adjust to the loss of Turner the same way they adjusted to the loss of defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt to the Chicago Bears last year.

"I don't want to downplay his importance, but we'll be fine. I said the same thing last year when we lost Wannstedt. I'm not as worried. We've got eight Pro Bowlers on offense, and we've got a pretty good offensive staff," Johnson said.

How will Turner adjust to coaching in Washington, where there aren't any Pro Bowl players on offense?

"I don't know," Johnson said. "That's his problem."

Smith said Turner will get the Redskins turned around after their 4-12 season.

"Naturally, the first year may be a struggling year for him. I don't expect him to go up there and just automatically turn things around right away, but within a couple of years, I expect him to have the personnel that he wants and to be running his offense the same way he ran the Dallas Cowboys offense," Smith said.

The Dallas players expressed more concern about losing Turner than Johnson did.

Aikman said: "We hate to see him go. We're going to miss him. He's done a phenomenal job with our offense and really developed me."

Novacek said: "We're still going to have basically the same players, but any time you miss a key person like that -- a person who runs the offense, a person that made us do what we did -- you're going to miss that."

Turner isn't expected to bring any of the Cowboys assistants with him.

He has his eye on three members of the Cincinnati Bengals defensive staff -- coordinator Ron Lynn, linebackers coach Mike Haluchak and line coach Bob Karmelowicz. He's also interested in two members of the Cardinals staff -- running backs coach Bobby Jackson and special teams coach Pete Rodriguez.

Three members of Petitbon's staff, secondary coach Emmitt Thomas, offensive line coach Jim Hanifan and tight ends coach Russ Grimm, may be retained.

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