If I had a dollar for every time Tom Coughlin's job was in jeopardy, I'd have enough dough to buy the Patriots a reliable receiver. Without a doubt, Coughlin will go down in history as having one of the strangest coaching careers in the history of football.
Tom Coughlin was a part of the 1990 New York Giants team, serving as the wide receivers coach and as an assistant to head coach Bill Parcells. Bill Belichick was the defensive coordinator. The Giants won Super Bowl XXV by a single point.
Coughlin finally nabbed a head coaching position on the collegiate level. Where? Boston, of course. At the time, coaching at Boston College wasn't a glamorous job. In real estate terms, this was a fixer-upper.
In 1993, Coughlin led his meager Boston team into battle against the No.1 ranked and undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Coughlin's team miraculously won by two points. It was considered one of the greatest upsets in football history.
Even stranger is that the Notre Dame dynasty was crushed forever. Even to this day, they remain broken. They've never returned to the top spot since their duel with Coughlin.
Coughlin then went back to the NFL to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was defeated in the AFC Championship by the Patriots. The head coach of the Patriots was Bill Parcells. Coughlin's destiny already seemed linked with Boston and everything related to New England. He also seemed destined to keep running into the same guys from his past.
Coughlin ultimately returned to the Giants, this time as the head coach. The team was inconsistent, to say the least. During the 2007 season, his job was in jeopardy. Later that season, Coughlin defeated Bill Belichick's 18-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl by three points. It was considered by many to be the greatest upset in the history of football.
Over the next three seasons, Coughlin's Giants didn't win a single playoff game.
During the 2011 season, his job was in jeopardy again. During the regular season, the Giants played the Patriots, who were on a 20-game winning streak at home. The Giants ended that streak, winning by four points.
Later that same season, the Giants resumed their strange quest to completely fall short of expectations. Coughlin's job was still up in the air. Yet somehow, they defeated the defending champion Packers and the red hot 49ers, which punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLVI for a rematch with the Patriots.
The Patriots seemed like they were on a mission, and they entered Super Bowl XLVI on a 10-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Giants had the potential to become the statistically worst team to ever win the big game. The Giants won by four points.
And yet, despite all of this, Tom Coughlin has managed to continually fly beneath the radar. The man is an enigma. His career continues to defy logic.
How does he do it? His mastery of football is clear, but his methods are mind-boggling. His coaching persona regularly flip-flops between fanatically furious and sweetly tender.
He understands the rules of the game but complains at just about every call that goes against his team. He wins big games and championships, but he does it with teams that are barely adequate by championship standards.
Tom Coughlin is a hero to many football fans. To others, he's a destroyer of dreams and dynasties. Depending upon which week you ask New Yorkers, he's a legend or he's over-the-hill. To Patriots fans, he's the Nadal to their Federer.
The guy is polarizing. But one thing is true: he wins big games by a hair, and he does it when nobody expects him to do it.
In the history of NFL coaches, he's one of the most unlikely heroes you'll find.