Bill Cowher Has Eyes on Giants Job, Jerome Bettis Still Insists
This is happening even though Coughlin won the Super Bowl just three years ago, led the Giants to the NFC's best record two years ago and was en route to a 5-0 start this time last season. But New York lost its past two games by a collective 72-24 and is 4-10 since that hot opening to 2009.
Combine that nearly season-long downturn with the public outbursts of running back Brandon Jacobs and safety Antrel Rolle and Coughlin's prickly personality and there's suddenly some "Tom Must Go" talk.
The main instigator is Jerome Bettis, a man who didn't know much coaching controversy while he was playing. But the former Pittsburgh standout running back is lobbying for Bill Cowher to replace Coughlin, saying that his old boss, who retired the year before the Giants won Super Bowl XLII, will "be coaching again very soon. ... (The Giants are) the team that he really coveted.
"This is where he always wanted to be. ... He was on the inside track (for the job) before the Giants won the Super Bowl. I think he's holding out for that opportunity if it presents itself."
If history matters, the Mara family, which founded and still owns the Giants, has never changed coaches during a season.
"The situation is right for him to come back," Bettis wrote in Sports Illustrated. "He's a Hall of Fame coach, just 53, and could have a number of openings to choose from. ... He needs a proven quarterback and because of that, I look at Eli Manning and the Giants. If that team keeps heading in the current direction, a coaching change is going to be imminent."
Cowher told The New York Daily News that he hasn't talked to Bettis in two years and "I'll leave it at that." What's more, Cowher's greatest success with the Steelers came with the unproven Ben Roethlisberger: a 15-1 record during the quarterback's rookie year and the Super Bowl title the next year.
But if the Giants' slide continues Sunday night against unbeaten Chicago, the speculation about the 64-year-old Coughlin's future will only heighten.