As you might know, I’m a huge New York Giants fan. It’s one of the few biases I don’t hide, and as a result I pay very close attention to the team. With Tom Coughlin likely to step down tomorrow, I’ve compiled a list of coaching candidates to replace him.
Don’t See Them as Candidates:
- Bill Cowher (former Steelers Head Coach)– Nine years have passed since Cowher has coached in the NFL. Logic seems to indicate that Cowher stepped down from his last coaching job because of his wife’s health, making it entirely possible that he’s waiting for the right gig to re-enter the league. However due to the long time that has passed since he’s coached, I think its likely that he’s satisfied with his role as an analyst at CBS sports. Even if he were interested in returning to coaching, the time lapse that has passed since his last job is long and would turn off many employers because the league has drastically changed since 2006. Sorry Giants fans, don’t see this one happening.
- Nick Saban (Alabama Head Coach)– It seems rather unlikely that Saban will leave Alabama for the pros in general. He recently said in an interview that he loves Tuscaloosa and he believes Alabama will be the last stop in his storied coaching career. Plus, his entire family lives in the area, so it would be tough leaving them on a personal basis. If he were to leave, I’d think he’d choose the Indianapolis Colts’ job first because he’d get to work with Andrew Luck. Thus, I don’t see him as a candidate for this job.
- Urban Meyer (Ohio State Head Coach)– Meyer recently told the press that a team approached him for the head coaching job, and he turned down their request (likely the Browns). Although the Giants is a prestige coaching job, Urban Meyer seems to be one of those folks who is perfectly content having great success at the collegiate level and never seeing how they could do in the pros. And honestly, could anyone blame him?
- Chuck Pagano (soon-to-be former Colts Head Coach)– Pagano is about to be fired because he doesn’t mesh well with Jim Irsay, who many say is very difficult to deal with. Despite having some success in his head coaching career, Pagano won’t be worth the hire in the long run. He runs schemes that are very different than what the Giants are used to, and he has no ties to the organization. I don’t see him having interest in this job, and I don’t see the Maras’ being interested in him for the job as well.
- Jim Harbaugh (Michigan Head Coach)– Harbaugh has been the head coach at Michigan for one year now, and has completely changed the culture at his alma mater. This would be too soon for him to return to the pros, and his abrasive personality would certainly be unappealing to the Giants’ upper management. This isn’t happening.
Top Consolation Candidates (#11-15)
11. Matt Rhule (Temple Head Coach)– I haven’t heard one person in the mainstream media mention his name in association with this opening, which I find quite surprising because he is part of Coughlin’s coaching tree. He has done an incredible job with Temple, completely reviving a program left lifeless when Addazio left for Boston College. He was well-received during his short tenure with the Giants, and fits the personality mold that Coughlin held as head coach. I don’t see this happening, but he’s certainly worth discussing at bare minimum.
12. Chip Kelly (former Eagles Head Coach)– Kelly is a better-respected coach than the media is making him out to be at the moment, but that doesn’t mean he’s worth being seriously considered for the Giants job. He helped deplete the Eagles organization over three years (a plus for the Giants), and runs a system better-suited for the college level. But, he’s a darn good coach who has at times produced above-average if not great results everywhere he’s gone. He’s worth discussing to see if he could be a fit for the Giants, but I don’t see him reciprocating the interest because he’s a small-town guy.
13. Rob Chudzinski (Colts Offensive Coordinator)– Chud was my favorite candidate to replace Kevin Gilbride when he stepped down two season ago. He’s a likable guy who was run out of an inept Browns organization way too early. However, he’s done a poor job in his role with the Colts over the past two seasons and needs a change of scenery (plus a few more years) before being a serious head coaching candidate.
14. Pep Hamilton (former Colts Offensive Coordinator)– If Coughlin stepped down after last season, then Pep Hamilton would be much higher on this list. Despite being a bright offensive mind, he did very poorly this season under stressful circumstances and was let go mid-year. Thus, his head coaching aspirations are put on hold for the time being, and is at least two years away from being a head coach in the NFL. He might be discussed internally by the Giants, but I don’t see him getting an interview.
T-15. Teryl Austin (Lions Defensive Coordinator)– Similarly to Hamilton, he would’ve been much higher on this list if Coughlin stepped down after last season. The Lions struggled for most of the year, dimming Austin’s prospects of becoming a head coach next season. His defense has at times looked awful (against GB in particular), so I think he’ll need a few years to refine his schemes. However, he’ll probably be discussed internally by the front office due to name recognition.
T-15. Rich Bisaccia (Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator)– Bisaccia is one of those guys who I think is one or two interviews away from becoming a head coach. He’s very familiar with the conference and has coached under several greats during his coaching tenure. The success that John Harbaugh has had with the Ravens only helps his candidacy. However, his lack of Name ID makes him an extreme longshot to get the job.
Top Candidates (#10-1)
10. Ben McAdoo (Offensive Coordinator)– McAdoo has done wonders with the Giants offense since he’s been with the team. However, he has no head coaching experience and his midwestern personality might not bode well with the aggressive New York media. With that said, I’d expect him to be a serious candidate and get at least one interview with the team’s upper management.
9. Brian Kelly (Notre Dame Head Coach)– This name has been tossed around a lot with the Giants opening, however I don’t think he’d be the best candidate for the job. He has no experience coaching in the pros, and would have some trouble putting together a strong coaching staff. Reports have come out that he also wants of control of personnel, which makes for a bad recipe given Chip Kelly’s tenure in Philadelphia. He is likely to be considered among the Giants brass, and could very possibly get an interview with the team.
8. Adam Gase (Bears Offensive Coordinator)– Gase is one of the league’s hottest coaching candidates at the moment, making him a near-certainty to be considered by the Giants. He did very well coaching Eli’s brother in Denver, and did a respected job coaching Jay Cutler in Chicago this past season. However, he lacks any ties to the Giants organization and doesn’t have any head coaching experience. It’s very possible he’ll get an interview for the job, but he’ll likely be shadowed by bigger candidates.
7. Steve Spagnuolo (Defensive Coordinator)– Spagnuolo is very well-known within Giants circles from his two stints as defensive coordinator, and has head coaching experience with the Rams. He has disappointed during his most recent stops with the Saints and Giants, but is still widely respected by the Giants brass. For the longest time he was considered to be Coughlin’s eventual successor, so I’d expect him to be interviewed by upper management for the head job.
6. Sean McDermott (Panthers Defensive Coordinator)– McDermott is another one of the league’s hottest coaching candidates, and I expect him to be targeted by many teams throughout the league. He runs an aggressive 4-3 defense that would be tailor-suited for the Giants. Despite lacking ties to the team, I’d expect him to be considered by upper management for the head coaching gig based on the results he’s produced in Carolina.
5. Hue Jackson (Bengals Offensive Coordinator)– Jackson is another one of those hot coaching candidates based on what he’s done with Cincinnati this year, and will certainly be considered by the Giants organization. His stop as head coach in Oakland helps his resume, and interviewing him will satisfy the league’s “Rooney Rule” policy. He’s certainly deserving of an interview and serious consideration for the top post.
4. David Shaw (Stanford Head Coach)– Shaw has been very well-received for his performance as head coach at Stanford. He seems to be very content with where he is, but the Giants is truly one of those top-tier jobs in the NFL. If he’s interested, he’ll definitely get strong consideration from the team’s upper management. He’d also satisfy the league’s “Rooney Rule” policy for interviewing candidates.
3. Josh McDaniels (Patriots Offensive Coordinator)– McDaniels has directed the Patriots’ offense through many of the glory years during Belichick’s reign as the team’s head coach. McDaniels didn’t impress during his tenure with Denver; however the fact he’s failed before isn’t necessarily a huge con to his resume. He’ll likely be the odds-on favorite to get the job, and will almost certainly be granted an interview.
2. Sean Payton (Saints Head Coach)– Payton is a Super Bowl-winning coach who might be run out of the Saints’ organization due to disfunction stemming all the way to the owner. Payton has experience with the Giants from his time as offensive coordinator under Jim Fassel, thus he would almost certainly be interested in the job if he’s fired next week. His track record is top-notch, his great coaching tenure with the Saints makes him the second-best available candidate on this list.
1. Jon Gruden (former Buccaneers Head Coach)– Gruden has not coached in the pros for several years now. He’s paid very well by his bosses at ESPN, so there’s a chance he might not be interested in the Giants opening. But if he is, he’s arguably the best candidate the Giants could get. He’s a Super Bowl winner who is widely respected across the league. Mara would be smart to aggressively pursue him for the opening.