Thinking about Giants Coach Coughlin

December 29, 2010 at 7:09 AM | Posted in Annals of Management, Sports | 2 Comments
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A jinx

I kept my pledge to not watch the Giants this past Sunday, to let them go on their own without me. Their defeat was a predictable collapse. Though, for my own mental health, I’ve given them space I find myself thinking about Tom Coughlin, their embattled coach.

Coughlin is a decent coach with a Super Bowl and many winning seasons behind him and has won with different teams. He has several things, though,  going against him. After winning the Super Bowl he wrote a book about the season and his coaching. It is a mistake of Sophoclean proportions to have the hubris to crow, particularly after just one big victory. Similarly in golf, only two men have withstood writing about their game and those were Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus. The great Watson wrote a book “Getting Up and Down” and didn’t sink a putt for fifteen years. Likewise dusty business bookshelves are filled with men who picked up their pen too soon — just think about Wang of Wang and Olson of Digital.

Coughlin’s biggest problem is that he has coached the team now for seven seasons: what he says goes in one ear and out the other. This has happened to even great coaches like Shula and Landry — their big wins came early in their tenure. Lombardi was right to leave Green Bay, Parcells New York and Walsh, San Francisco. And Coughlin, for all his strengths, is not great.

This is as true in business as it is in sports.


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  1. I don’t know about Tom Coughlin but it is interesting that writing sports books while you’re still competing is a slippery slope. Kudos to Ted Williams for waiting until he retired to write “The Science of Hitting.” Also, did Hogan write his book while he was still playing?

    • Hogan is an interesting case. He wrote the 5 Lessons in 1957 and past his prime and he won his last major in 1953. He did win the Colonial in 1959. As you no doubt recall, he was in position to win in 1960 — Palmer’s year — but put an easy pitch into the water on th 71st hole. He played with the young Jack Nicklaus that day.

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