I've had that uncomfortable conversation with New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin about job security before. It was a topic of discussion this past offseason based on the Giants' second-half collapse in '09.
Coughlin is normally resolute in saying he wants all the heat on him, but on Wednesday, he admitted to ESPNNewYork.com that the criticism can get a little noisy at times.
"I try not to let that be bothersome to me, but it's really difficult to ignore it," Coughlin told Ian O'Connor. "Every time we lose a game, that stuff comes up."
That sounds a bit different than what we're used to from Coughlin. He's known as one of the top motivators in the league, so it's a little odd when he admits that the criticism might be affecting him. I agree with O'Connor that Coughlin shouldn't be fired if the Giants miss the playoffs, but it could happen. We've heard co-owner John Mara dismiss reports that the New York Giants are on Bill Cowher's Christmas wish list, but it's not like Mara has said unequivocally that Coughlin will return in 2011.
Cowher experienced the best job security this league has to offer while working for the Rooneys in Pittsburgh. I believe John Mara and Steve Tisch are fond of Coughlin, but they don't have the patience of a Dan Rooney. Coughlin earned the benefit of the doubt with that title in '07, but a coach can lose that a lot quicker in the New York market.
"It's part of the business and there's nothing I'm going to say to change it," Coughlin said. "Win games, and it goes away. We won three in a row and nobody was saying anything about [my job]. So we've got to go win games, and I understand it. I've been in it long enough to understand.
"You've got to go win, and that's what this is all about. And we didn't win last week, so here comes the speculation again."
When he won that first Super Bowl with the Giants, Bill Parcells was a made man in the Meadowlands. The same can't be said for Parcells' close friend and protege, Coughlin. If he loses to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon, you can guarantee that the Cowher speculation will reach a new level.
It's not fair to Coughlin, but it's the reality of the situation.