On Wednesday, the New York Giants announced a two-year contract extension for head coach Tom Coughlin (via Giants.com's Michael Eisen), and it should come as no surprise. After guiding the 9-7 Giants to a second Super Bowl title in five years, Tom Coughlin deserves to have the job for as long as he wants it.
The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but no matter how large the pile of cash is that he's been rewarded with, it's worth every penny.
Ralph Vacchiano of the NY Daily News tweeted this quote from Giants owner John Mara:
I wanted Tom as our head coach going all the way back to the early ‘90s. So it was with great confidence that Ernie Accorsi and I recommended to my father and Bob Tisch in 2004 that we hire Tom. Of course my father didn’t need to be convinced. He saw what we have all seen—a man who has a singular focus and incredible dedication when it comes to his work. In so many ways Tom represents to me who and what the head coach of our franchise should be.
Apparently, as soon as Bill Parcells decided to retire in 1991 after winning his second Super Bowl, the Mara family began looking at Tom Coughlin as a possible head coach.
After going 8-8 in the 1991 season, and then 6-10 in 1992, the disaster that was the Ray Handley era in New York came to an end. Suddenly, Coughlin—the Giants' former wide receivers coach who left to be the head coach at Boston College after Super Bowl XXV—started looking like he should have been named head coach in Parcells' wake.
But in 1993, the Giants went with Dan Reeves instead, and then Coughlin went to Jacksonville in 1995. The Giants won just one out of three playoff games in seven years, while Coughlin's expansion Jaguars appeared in two AFC Championship games.
Down that long road, however, it's all turned out for the best. Tom Coughlin avoided the string of unsuccessful quarterbacks that paraded through New York (Dave Brown, Danny Kanell and Kerry Collins), and accepted the Giants' head coaching offer in 2004, the same year they landed a rookie from Ole Miss named Eli Manning.
After Coughlin struggled through some growing pains with the team and their young quarterback, the stern disciplinarian changed his style somewhat.
Following an arduous 8-8 season in 2006 that ended with a loss to the Eagles in the Wild Card game, Coughlin held a meeting with former fullback and director of player development Charles Way, as reported by ESPNNewYork's Ian O'Connor.
Way's advice was simple: "Let the players see you the way you are with your grandchildren." Given Coughlin's stern demeanor and demanding manner of coaching, Way reminded him that the players needed positive reinforcement and to know that their coach cared about them as well.
Coughlin took the team bowling and let them laugh as he chucked gutterballs. He instituted a veteran's council to help preside over the locker room.
The culture of the team changed slightly, maintaining the same ardent work ethic and philosophy, but now with players that abided by Coughlin's stern style with the knowledge that it was to bring the best out of his players and the team.
Now, eight years later, with two dramatic Super Bowl victories to their credit, both Coughlin and Manning appear to be headed directly for Canton.
With his fourth victory this season, Tom Coughlin will pass Bill Parcells for the second-most wins all-time in franchise history (Steve Owen is first by a considerable margin, but the forward pass was still considered a passing fad in his era).
Coughlin currently has 142 career victories as a head coach, and is set to pass Marv Levy (143) and Bill Cowher (149) this season. It's hard to believe that just 18 months ago, Cowher was rumored to be Coughlin's successor as coach of the Giants. And it's even harder to believe that just last December, there was talk of firing Tom Coughlin (including from B/R's own Jeff Shull).
And now, it seems that Coughlin, like Eli, has proven all the doubters wrong. Coughlin has to be easily one of the top five head coaches in the NFL, and if you buy the argument that he is superior to Mike Shanahan, Jeff Fisher and Mike Tomlin, then it's just Coughlin and Bill Belichick vying for the top spot.
While Belichick has got five Super Bowl appearances and three victories to his credit, his two losses were to Coughlin. And Belichick hasn't won a championship since he was exposed as a cheater in the 2007 Spygate scandal and personally fined $500,000 by the NFL. As ESPN.com's James Walker writes, the stain of the scandal still taints any discussion of Belichick and the Patriots' dynasty.
But Coughlin wouldn't be the type to lend any credence to such a debate. He just goes out there and coaches his team. There are no gimmicks, just a constant sermon of toughness, hard work, dedication and belief in the team.
Who is the greatest coach in Giants history?
In a league of trends, the Giants have demonstrated a formula for victory that will always remain true: Pressure the quarterback with the defensive line.
And the Giants' excellent GM, Jerry Reese, continues to deliver the pieces that Coughlin needs to succeed, both through the draft and free agency.
Moreover, Coughlin has not just been making significant contributions to the NY Giants. Last month, he received the Outstanding Civilian Service Award, the third highest honor given to a private citizen by the United States Department of the Army. This just goes to show that while he is an excellent football coach, he is an even better human being.
Tom Coughlin is now signed with the Giants through the 2014 season, when he will be 68 years old. He told ESPN's Chris Mortensen earlier this year that he would like to coach into his 70s (via Paul Jackiewicz at ProFootballZone.com).
If the Giants know what is best for them, and it appears they do, they will let Tom Coughlin coach the team for as long as he wants.