End Must Be near; Coughlin Calm, Candid

By Frenette, Gene | The Florida Times Union, December 24, 2002 | Go to article overview

End Must Be near; Coughlin Calm, Candid


Frenette, Gene, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

There was a look of despair on his face, which isn't unnatural for Tom Coughlin the day after such a horrible performance as his team gave in a 28-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

But this time, Coughlin's voice had a distinctly different tone. There was a notable lack of fire in almost every answer. Even when he broached the subject yesterday of "questionable calls" against the Jaguars, it was done with an eerie sense of calmness. At least by Coughlin standards.

It was as if the man entrusted by owner Wayne Weaver with consummate power to build the Jaguars from scratch already knew the outcome. Now it's just a matter of trying to finish a job that will likely be somebody else's in a few weeks.

Coughlin has said many times that NFL coaches operate in a bottom-line business. And it's eminently clear that the most important figures in the Jaguars' numbers game -- won-loss record, attendance and time allotted for a turnaround -- are stacked heavily against him.

Perhaps if the Jaguars had beaten Tennessee in front of a paltry crowd of 51,033 on a sun-splashed day, followed by a positive outing Sunday at Indianapolis, then Weaver could justify keeping Coughlin despite the lukewarm reception he sparks among fans. An 8-8 record, or a perception that this is an ascending team, would give an owner who showed admirable loyalty toward his coach a viable selling point to take to the paying customers.

But with that last carrot gone, and vanquished against Tennessee by a ho-hum showing on both sides of the ball, Weaver is boxed into a corner from which there's only one realistic option.

Change is coming. And regardless of how Weaver chooses to set up his organizational model -- letting one person be the head coach/general manager or separating the positions -- all signs and body language point to Coughlin not being a part of the 2003 equation. …

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