Coughlin gets one-year extension from Giants

CALDWELL, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin was given a one-year reprieve
to turn the New York Giants into a legitimate contender.

While the team's owners didn't give him an ultimatum, their
message was clear.

"I think he knows we need to do better, that our expectations
are much higher," co-owner John Mara said in a conference call
Wednesday. "I think we have enough talent on this roster to do

Mara and co-owner Jonathan Tisch gave the 60-year-old coach a
one-year contract extension through 2008, an agreement reached just
days after the Giants were eliminated in the first round of the
playoffs for the second straight season.

It was a disappointing finish for a team that won the NFC East
in 2005 with an 11-5 mark and thought it had a Super Bowl shot
coming into this season. A 6-2 first-half fueled those

However, injuries to seven-time Pro Bowler Michael Strahan and
leading receiver Amani Toomer, dumb mistakes and a subpar second
half by quarterback Eli Manning led to a 2-6 finish that caused fan
unrest and put Coughlin's job in jeopardy after New York's 23-20
playoff loss to the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sunday.

In the two days that followed, Tisch and Mara talked football
and future plans with Coughlin, and he convinced them he could make
Manning better and the team a winner.

"He has a vision and he understands how that vision can now
move forward," Tisch said. "He did not have to save his job. He
did not have to talk us into anything."

Retaining Coughlin provides stability to a team whose co-owners, Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch, died within weeks of each other in late 2005 and which will lose general manager Ernie Accorsi to retirement next week.

However, Bill Parcells won't be filling Accorsi's job. The Cowboys coach reacted angrily Tuesday to a report that he he reached out to the Giants about the position.

"There is absolutely nothing to it," Parcells told the New York Daily News from Dallas. "Absolutely nothing. There has been no contact, either directly or through an intermediary. Whoever said it is a liar."

The meetings between Coughlin and ownership started Monday evening and continued through most of the day Tuesday. Tuesday's meetings were back and forth whether Coughlin would be back, but members of the Mara and Tisch families talked to some of the players still cleaning out their lockers in Giants Stadium and found solid support for keeping Coughlin.

The owners didn't ask Coughlin to make any changes and they said
they were satisfied he was the right man to lead the Giants.

"Tom Coughlin is our coach for 2007 and hopefully for many
years after that," Mara said. "That is the final decision."

Hopefully is the key word, though. If there is another
disappointment, the Giants might be knocking on the door of former
Steelers coach Bill Cowher or Notre Dame boss Charlie Weis.

"When I become convinced that somebody in this organization is
not capable of doing the job any longer then we are not going to
hesitate to take action," Mara said. "That is not the case here.
I believe that Tom is an excellent coach and I believe that we will
win with him."

Coughlin, who was to earn $3 million in 2007, appreciated the
decision but said he wasn't surprised.

"I did not have any feeling I wasn't going to be retained,"
Coughlin said in a separate conference call.

Terms of the one-year extension weren't immediately available.

Strahan, who missed eight of the last nine games, middle
linebacker Antonio Pierce and Pro Bowl tight end Jeremy Shockey all
welcomed Coughlin back for a fourth season.

"Like I've been saying, the coach is the real deal," Pierce
said. "He's a good coach and he does a good job and we all share
in what happened this season."

Some fans, probably those who called for Coughlin's job in the
wake of a 30-7 loss to the Saints on Dec. 24, won't be happy with
the decision, Mara acknowledged.

"I am certainly sensitive to what the fans think," Mara said.
"I have received a lot of mail. But at the end of the day, you
can't make decisions on what the fans say, but what your eyes tell
you and what your experience in the game tells you."

Coughlin, who has a 25-23 record with the Giants, plans to meet
individually with his coaching staff in the next week. Change is

Coughlin made one move down the stretch, relieving offensive
coordinator John Hufnagel after the Saints game and giving
quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride the play-calling duties.

Despite reports that players were tuning out their no-nonsense
coach, Mara insists Coughlin still has the respect of the team.

"I don't buy that," Mara said. "I think there is substantial
support for him."

Strahan agreed.

"I know the perception is that he is unapproachable and distant
from his players, but that's not the case," he said. "I had some
of my best conversations with him this season, and he showed me how
much he cared about me as a person and as a player."

Mara said a major part of the interview process was listening to
what Coughlin had to say about Manning, and he was satisfied with
the answers.

"Eli needs to play more consistently," Mara added. "He would
be the first one to admit that. Something that I have been
concerned about is his play over the second half of the season.
There is nobody in this building that doubts his ability and that
feels like he is not the guy to lead us to where we want to get to.
But he has to play more consistently."

Coughlin believes Manning will improve next year, his third as
the starter.

"He is the quarterback of the future, and certainly we have
work to do there in consistency, in offensive point production,
along those lines, but I'm very confident that we will achieve in
that area," Coughlin said.

Before joining the Giants, Coughlin was Jacksonville's head
coach from 1995-2002 and went 72-64.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writers Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton was used in this report.