Cowboys miss Dolphins coach Tony Sparano

We could get into a great debate about whether the Cowboys should have promoted Tony Sparano instead of hiring Wade Phillips in 2007.

Sparano, who coached the offensive line and called plays under Bill Parcells, basically got a courtesy interview. Phillips beat out Norv Turner for the job.

You can’t call Phillips a bad hire. Not after he’s won more games the last three seasons than every coach except for New England’s Bill Belichick.

So we won’t argue that Sparano should have gotten the gig. We’ll just point out how much the Cowboys miss the man who left after Phillips’ first season to become Miami’s head coach.

Sparano was a perfect complement to Phillips, who doesn’t exactly come down hard on his players. The difference in their personalities was personified by the reactions this week to their respective teams’ poor preseason performance.

Phillips rationalized the Cowboys’ mail-in efforts. Sparano ranted, stressing that the Dolphins better have a sense of urgency.

“We stunk the other night,” Sparano told the Miami media. “I mean, can I be any clearer with that? We were not good the other night against Atlanta. I didn't like any of it.”

Sparano’s take-no-bull presence was sorely missed during the 2008 debacle in Dallas. The Cowboys found an assistant coach who could help fill that void when they hired special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis before last season.

The Cowboys haven’t been able to replace Sparano’s game-planning expertise. It’s no coincidence that Jason Garrett’s most productive season as a play-caller came when he worked with Sparano.