For three seasons with the New York Giants, in the late 80s, Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick were star pupils of Bill Parcells. Coughlin was the Giants wide receivers coach while Belichick was the coordinator for the Giants suffocating defense. Ultimately, Belichick left the Giants to become the last head coach of the "original Cleveland Browns". Coughlin had a brief but successful stint as Boston College's head coach until becoming the first head coach of the NFL's expansion Jacksonville Jaguars franchise.
Meanwhile, in four out of his five seasons in Cleveland, Belichick failed to lead the Browns to a winning season and he resigned in 1995, when the team announced its move to Baltimore. Meanwhile, Coughlin led the newly minted, expansion Jacksonville Jaguars to the playoffs in four of his first five seasons as well as two AFC Championship Games. However, Coughlin failed to lead the Jaguars back to the playoffs.
Belichick and Coughlin nearly became New York rivals. In 2000, Belichick bizarrely resigned as Jets head coach, just one day into his tenure while reading off a crumpled sheet of paper and later accepted the Patriots head coaching position. In 2004, Coughlin accepted the challenge of becoming the head coach of the New York Giants. It would be seven years until Coughlin and Belichick would become major foils for one another in Super Bowl XLII.
They may have missed the shot at having their fates intersect as head coaches of New York's teams but they've since become rivals regardless.
Here's how their resumes stack up head-to-head.
Bill Belichick: 173-97-0 in the regular season. 17-6 in the postseason.
Tom Coughlin: 129-103 in the regular season. 10-7 in the postseason.
There's no doubt that Belichick has been the superior head coach for the past decade but somehow like a certain NFL quarterback Coughlin's teams mysteriously find an extra gear at crucial moments. Belichick's record is even more impressive when you consider that he was 36-44 as the Browns head coach in the early '90s and that he has won three Coach of the Year awards. Belichick's Patriots have only allowed 4 losses a season during his tenure as head coach.
21 years ago, Coughlin and Belichick were assistants on the Giants Super Bowl-winning staff. Belichick was the favored one but Coughlin was the one who shared the most similarities to Parcells.
"I think they do have an awful lot in common; I think their persona is just a little different on the part of each of them," Parcells said on the program. "Both of them were straight football guys, intense competitors, very thorough, quite intense in their preparations, and certainly both of them would get the information to the players very, very well.ESPN Boston
"You know Bill Belichick was the son of a coach, I knew his father [Steve] very well. He came up [with] football all his life. Tom kind of took the same route I did as a coach, starting in a very, very small Division III school. He was mowing the grass and lining the fields, and doing all the tasks that a coach in one of those situations has to do. So he came up the hard way and people who do that learn the ropes. I think Bill was taught by his dad on what was necessary, and Tom, by his experience, starting off at a very low level as a coach -- I did the same things at Hastings College in Nebraska -- makes you appreciate it when things change for the better." via
Despite their shared roots and their matching Super Bowl XXV rings on Feb. 5, they'll be on opposite sidelines vying for a championship that only one can win for the second time. Belichick may have the superior record and more rings but until he beats the Giants in Sunday's Big Game, Coughlin will have the upper hand.