McDonald: Why Coughlin Goes and Reese Stays

(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)

Four years ago, the New York Giants became one of the elite franchises in the NFL. By winning their fourth Super Bowl, they joined only four other franchises – now five – to accomplish that feat.

But three losing seasons in a row takes a toll on a reputation and something had to be done.

“Let’s be honest, we’ve lost some credibility as an organization,” said Giants president John Mara. “When you have three losing years in a row like that, you face a lot of criticism. A lot of it is deserved. It’s up to us now to turn that around and get back to where I think we should be.”

So Tom Coughlin goes and general manager Jerry Reese stays. Some were scratching their heads with that move, but you have to understand how the Giants work as a franchise to see where Mara is coming from.

Since 1979, the Giants had three general managers and six head coaches. They are the mark of stability in New York. Think about it this way, the Jets had three general managers in the past four years, so you understand how patient the Giants are with their staff.

“I think that’s part of our philosophy,” Mara said. “If you still believe that the person has what it takes to build a winning team, you have to stay with him, you have to ride through the highs and lows and give him a chance. And he’s going to have that opportunity.”

Understand the power structure of the current Giant team. Although Reese is the general manager, Mara is the head of the football operation with the Tisch family running the business side of things. There are also members of the Mara family in the front office as well. Any new general manager will need to fit into that structure. They will need to answer to John Mara and keep many members of the front office staff. The Giants just don’t do mass firings.

Also any head coach will be hired by Mara and not Reese, even though the general manager will have some input. To Mara the coach and GM are on two separate tracks, both answerable to him.

So to change both would be out of the ordinary for the Giants.

The reason why everyone is scratching their heads on this is because every other team runs differently. Sandy Alderson runs the Mets. Brian Cashman rules the Yankees. Glen Sather is the president of the Rangers. Phil Jackson is in charge of the Knicks. And so on down the line. Although owners like Jim Dolan and Jeff Wilpon poke their heads in, they are viewed as more meddlers than men who are educated in their sports.

Mara , on the other hand, grew up in football and is running the same family business the Maras owned since 1925. He is a lifelong football man.

Woody Johnson tried to do the same thing with the Jets a few years ago and it blew up in his face, but he’s not a football man, rather more like every other owner, who made his money elsewhere and now trying his hand at his sport.

There will probably be changes to the front office but Mara when Mara was asked he didn’t give a straight answer.

“Not necessarily,” he said. “Again, that will be the source of ongoing discussions. We’ll see where we go with that.”

The bottom line is that this is the way the Giants do business. They are structured differently than any other team in New York. Any incoming coach has to understand and accept the power structure.

Coughlin did and he lasted 12 years. Reese does and he still has job.

Now let’s see where this leads the Giants in their search for a new head coach.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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