FRISCO (105.3 THE FAN) – Why is Will McClay staying with the Cowboys?
Amid an assortment of wild speculation and inaccurate reporting taking hold over the course of the last week, McClay — the Dallas Cowboys senior director of college and pro personnel— issued a very powerful statement on Wednesday morning while saying very few words.
He told me he’s spurning an offer to interview for the Houston Texans GM job.
But why? Here, I handle your questions with answers:
*Did Will McClay turn down the job?
No. It was never offered. All that was extended to him was a chance to interview. And amid talk that he was “their No. 1 candidate,’’ I’ve reported what I’ve called “an educated guess’’ that Bills exec Brian Gaine, who is close with coach Bill O’Brien and is a former Texans staffer — is atop the wish list. And I bet long-time New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio is also in the top two. He also has a good relationship with O’Brien.
*Was the Texans job attractive to him?
Very much so, in the sense that it’s a good organization in a football hotbed, and most of all, as it is McClay’s “other hometown.’’ He attended high school and college (Rice) there, and still has deep familial roots there.
*His “second hometown’’?
Will has been in Dallas for a long time, working for the Joneses in a variety of football roles. And more than that, his 11-year-old son is here. That’s the main reason this marks the third consecutive offseason that McClay has spurned chances to move to other cities and other franchises.
*What about the money?
One newspaper has written that Dallas should “pay him like a GM.’’ Those involved might argue that the Cowboys already do that.
*What about the power?
This is a tricky one. In my view, given the fact that Texans coach Bill O’Brien is on the four-person committee that will pick their coach, O’Brien might have more authority than his own GM. (See the Brian Gaine note above.)
In Dallas, McClay doesn’t have the GM title, but he’s as powerful as anyone in the building not named “Jones.’’
I would suggest that while Jerry is, in day-to-day action, the Cowboys “owner and president,’’ that Stephen is the de facto GM and that Will is the de facto “Vice President of Football Ops.’’ If such a title that sounded grander than “senior director of college and pro personnel’’ appealed to Will, I assume the Cowboys would print up grander business cards.
But this “name McClay the GM!’’ concept is created by fans and media lacking savvy. It matters not to the person involved.
*Why didn’t Dallas simply block McClay from leaving and avoid the unknown?
Contrary to what so many have written, unfortunately for the Cowboys, two high-placed NFL people confirm my belief that there is no such blocking option. McClay is the Cowboys’ “senior director of college and pro personnel.” That role is “less than” a GM, and has responsibilities that are “less than.” Therefore, as near as I can tell, McClay was and is free to interview and does not need Dallas’ approval to do so.
The Texans called the Cowboys on Saturday night to request permission. But that appears to have been a “professional courtesy’’ and not a “requirement.’’
*So what is Will McClay interested in? Will he ever leave?
Like any captain, he thinks about being a colonel. Like any colonel, he thinks about being a general. At 51, there is every reason for him to continue addressing the part of him that wants advancement, that wants to run his own army, that wants to see if he can be “the guy.’’
But in the meantime, the Joneses deserve credit here. (Not that their detractors will ever grant them that.) This is an attractive free agent, as valuable as any player or coach they could sign. And they should be applauded for forging a loyalty with him.
*If Dallas loses McClay, what would they be really losing?
In addition to being the “scouting guru,’’ as he’s often labeled, he is a unifier between ownership, coaching staff, scouting department and even the locker room. Does the coaching staff (i.e. Rod Marinelli) often enter the draft room and win an argument that conflicts with the board McClay built? Yes. Does coach Jason Garrett’s staff sometimes have a different vision for the mold of a player than McClay? Yes.
Do the Joneses sometimes want things that McClay doesn’t want?
Yes. Of course. But these aren’t “problems” because of the way Will McClay brings all the wings of the building together. He is more than a scout, more than a coach, more than an ex-player. He’s “The Unifier.” That should really be Will McClay’s title with the Dallas Cowboys.