Coughlin elated to be back with Giants

Updated: January 7, 2004, 8:40 PM ET
Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Even after a year away from football, Tom Coughlin remains a no-nonsense taskmaster.

The former Jacksonville Jaguars coach more than lived up to his billing when he was introduced a coach of the New York Giants on Wednesday.

"What we must be all about now is the restoration of pride, of self pride, of team pride, the restoration of our professionalism and the dignity with which we conduct our business," Coughlin said, promising to bring back the brand of football that led New York to two Super Bowls under his mentor, Bill Parcells.

"We must restore our belief in the process by which we will win, and we must replace despair with hope and return the energy and passion to New York Giants football," Coughlin said.

There was some thought that having time off to do things with family and friends might have mellowed 57-year-old Coughlin after three straight decades of coaching.

Coughlin dispelled that belief in his introduction to the New York media. He sounded as if he was holding a team meeting.

Coughlin stressed hard work, consistency, single-mindedness of purpose and eliminating turnovers and penalties as the key ingredients to getting the Giants back on track after a 4-12 season that led to the firing of Jim Fassel.

Coughlin reiterated that his approach to football is rule-orientated, although he showed a sense of humor in discussing it.

With a smile, he noted that his assistant coaches can now wear sunglasses during practice.

He said most of his other rules have not changed, including the one mandating that players sit in meetings with their feet on the floor.

"That, I believe," Coughlin said a day after signing a four-year, $12 million contract. "I have spent a lifetime trying to improve concentration and focus. I don't know how a guy who is slouching can pay attention to what is going on."

Coughlin also raised eyebrows referring to last year's rash of injuries as "a cancer." New York had 12 players put on season-ending injured reserve.

"It is something that has to be corrected," Coughlin said. "It is a mental thing I believe as much as anything else."

Nothing Coughlin said seemed to bother the Giants' hierarchy, which went into the coaching search looking for someone to restore order.

When asked if Coughlin reminded him of a general, co-owner Wellington Mara said he was more like a drill instructor.

"He's like Jim Lee Howell," Mara said of the Giants coach with the highest winning percentage (.655). "He was a Marine D.I. He was tough and unyielding."

Coughlin said players want order and leadership.

"They want clear and stated objectives," said Coughlin, who turned down an offer to coach the Giants in 1993 because he had not finished a rebuilding program at Boston College. "They want superb detail and organization and discipline which provides us all with the confidence to win."

Coughlin has something to prove after being fired after the 2002 season, his third straight losing season in Jacksonville. He had a 72-64 record in eight seasons with the Jaguars, twice leading them to the AFC title game.

Few will care about Coughlin's personality if the Giants start winning again.

"You don't stay the same, nobody stays the same, Coughlin said. "You adjust and you move on. I've always talked about the trust factor. If players prove to me that they can be trusted that's a whole different ball game."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press