A number of names were floated for the Redskins job, including an A list with people like John Madden and John Robinson. Then, among assistant coaches considered ready to move up, was Joe Gibbs.
Cooke associates told reporters that even before Pardee had been fired, George Allen had wanted his old job back. But that never would have worked. Allen, of course, also wanted total team control again. The idea that Allen and Cooke could co-exist was sheer fantasy.
Madden, who had been a teammate of Beathard's at Cal-Poly at San Luis Obispo, had retired in 1978 as head coach of the Raiders, and Robinson was head coach at USC. With his California connections, Cooke was familiar with both of them.
"At the time, both Madden and Robinson were mentioned, but Joe Gibbs' name was also mentioned at the very beginning," John Cooke said. "As I recall, Madden was asked, but he declined because he had had enough of coaching. We never met with Robinson, but dad was interested in Robinson." Robinson had accepted a USC contract extension, though two years later he would join the Los Angeles Rams.