I'm a big Coughlin fan, so the reaction following the upsetting exit from the playoffs in January '09 and the two disappointing seasons that followed was tough for me to bear. Last year, when no one really knew what to expect coming out of the lockout, Coughlin turned in a superb year, leading the Giants to a Super Bowl win over the Patriots. It was Coughlin's second title with Big Blue, and yesterday, he was rewarded with a two-year contract extension (he's now signed through the 2014 season) and a big raise ($20 million over the next three years). Much deserved.
Now the discussion has turned to who's the better coach: Tom Coughlin or Bill Parcells? I guess this was inevitable once Coughlin equaled Parcells' Super Bowl win total. There are so many factors that go into this one. For example, are we talking about who's the better Giants' coach, or who's the better coach over the course of a career? Let's take a closer look at what the debate's all about:
In eight seasons as coach of the Giants, Coughlin's won 82 games overall (74 in the regular season) and he's taken New York to the playoffs five times. Before that, he spent eight years in Jacksonville, winning 72 games overall, and getting to the playoffs four times with the expansion Jags. His overall record is 154-121. Equally as impressive, Coughlin's been written off plenty of times. In Jacksonville and in his early years in New York, his critics said he was too rigid, that he had too many rules. Now, leadership is cited as his strength.
Parcells coached the Giants for eight years, winning 85 games overall (77 in the regular season). He made the playoffs five times with Big Blue, winning the Super Bowl twice. His career coaching record is 183-138-1. Perhaps most importantly, he'll be remembered for rebuilding four franchises. The Giants, Patriots, Jets, and Cowboys couldn't get out of their own way before Parcells arrived. He took each team to the playoffs, and brought New England to Super Bowl XXXI following his two trips with the Giants. Parcells will certainly go down in history as one of the legends of the sport.
Is this a fair argument to have? Maybe. Or maybe we should wait until Coughlin's through coaching. There's no telling when that will be. He's a young 65, his desire to coach is as strong as ever, and he'll do so for at least the next three years. Who knows about Parcells. He's 70, but he never really seems to go away. The Saints were close to getting him this time around. The only real certainty is that he won't be coaching the Giants (at least not until 2014).
What Parcells did was remarkable. He rebuilt four franchises. Coughlin hasn't done that. But Parcells won twice in New York. Coughlin has the chance for more. Count him out and he'll likely prove you wrong once again.