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SI: Has Giants coach Tom Coughlin gone too far?


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Tom the terrible

Early in his Giants tenure, Coughlin has already had to deal with a number of issues regarding his strict style.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

By Don Banks

Believe it or not, sports writers appreciate a sense of discipline as much as the next working stiff. That's why we're up at the crack of 10 every day, grinding away at the keyboard to bring you all those nuggets of truth. Deadlines, baby. One way or another, we all got 'em.

But there's discipline, and then there's degrees of going overboard. And new Giants head coach Tom Coughlin definitely has crossed that particular threshold with his decision to fine three of his players $500 each for not being early enough to a recent team meeting.

We're in full agreement that the Giants needed a firmer hand on the wheel this year. After mailing in the second half of last season with eight consecutive losses to close out the kinder, gentler Jim Fassel era, New York had no choice but to shut down the country club and open Coughlin's improve-your-concentration camp. The Giants in 2003 were lacking in focus, resiliency and direction. They gave up, gave in and gave out at the smallest sign of adversity.

Coughlin's get-tough policy is not the problem. But let's get real. Setting the clocks in the team offices five minutes early, then slapping players with fines if they're not running on Coughlin time seems a silly and needless source of potential problems. There are plenty of other land mines that come with coaching in the pressurized environs of New York -- as opposed to, say, Jacksonville -- so why go looking to step on ones that can easily be avoided?

If you're late to a team meeting, you're late, and you should have to pay the man. But if you're only late by someone else's version of Greenwich Mean Time, then me thinks somebody's clock is wound a little too tight. And Tom, we're looking in your direction.

The Giants certainly knew what they were getting when they hired Coughlin. Look up the word "taskmaster" in the dictionary and a small picture of Coughlin now accompanies it. But there's a way to make a point about discipline and punctuality, and a way to have your message lost in your methods. In this case, it's Coughlin who's being just a little behind the times.

Tom the terrific

Coughlin's disciplinarian style helped the Jaguars become the most successful expansion team in NFL history.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

By Peter King

When you buy Tom Coughlin, you know what you're buying. Discipline ... some of it silly and excessive. And living his world, the his-way-or-the-highway world. And so if he tells you to be early for meetings, what's the big deal? If he sets the clocks in the locker room and the meeting rooms five minutes faster than the clocks in the real world, what's the big deal? Why go to war over such minor-league issues?

That's one of the things that has been lost in this tempest in a teapot. The clocks in the Giants' players areas are intentionally set five minutes. So if you're a player, and you're "Coughlin late" for a meeting, it means you've looked at the clocks in the building and added the minutes back on to them in your own head.

I don't understand, really, why a player would be late on Coughlin time if the clocks are set five minutes ahead of time. Someone has to explain that to me.

Here's my take on this: If you want to find a reason to bicker and fight with someone, you can find it. If you want to find ways to get along with the new guy's rules -- rules that, in my mind, were desperately needed, even if some of them are silly -- you can do that too.

I feel sure the Giants' players who file grievances for tardiness violations when they really weren't tardy will win. They will end up not being fined. Hooray.

But the more mature approach here, and the approach I feel will lead to ultimate success for the Giants, will be for the players to accept who their coach is and what their coach is.

Coughlin is the biggest disciplinarian in football. At the last place he coached, Jacksonville, this approach got his team to the conference championship game in his second season. With the game's best pass-rusher and some other key components in place, the Giants can rise from the depths pretty quickly too. But the players are going to have to accept Coughlin's way of doing business. Fellas, he's not going to change.

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The article's done by both Don Banks and Peter King. Well, we already know that both of them are wrong. Therefore, we should take the midpoint of "Tom the Terrible" and "Tom the Terrific."

You get "Tom the Mediocre."

Yup, that sounds about right, given his career regular-season and playoff records. Further proof that both of those writers are maroons.

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