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Sports Pages: Tom Coughlin's best advice

3/4/2013
In his new book, the New York Giants head coach recommends sticking to a firm schedule to reach your goals. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Author: Tom Coughlin, with David Fisher

Title: "Earn the Right to Win: How Success in Any Field Starts with Superior Preparation"

In a sentence: Coughlin teaches readers how to be a successful, hard-nosed son of a gun -- whether for a meeting, a job interview or a home-improvement project -- through intense planning and sweating the small stuff.

Sample chapter: "Success Is in the Details." (Well, duh.)

Interesting quote: A notorious stickler for rules, Coughlin tends to rub people the wrong way at first -- in the foreword, Michael Strahan writes that he hated the coach soon after he took over the Giants -- but there is an underlying reason for Coughlin's methods. “The purpose of setting rules isn’t to catch people and punish them," he writes, "but rather to find those people who are willing to make a commitment to their team and their teammates.”

Bar fodder: During a tough road loss on the West Coast, Coughlin noticed his players looked worn down throughout the game. So, he changed his thinking to find an edge. The Giants stopped flying cross-country on Friday and now travel the day before the game. "Scientifically this doesn't hold water, but it has worked for us," he writes.

More bar fodder: How detail-obsessive is Coughlin? Check this out: "When we were planning the new facility in Jacksonville [after being hired in February 1994] ... I wanted to know how far the people sitting in the front row were going to be from the video screen in the team room. 'How far away does New England sit?' I wanted to know how the better teams operated. We settled on seven feet."

Lesson learned: You don't need to be an analytics geek to make a successful game plan. While preparing for Super Bowl XLII, Coughlin writes that all the stats showed New England quarterback Tom Brady was the best in the business. But they also showed that only four other teams in the NFL gave up fewer sacks than the Patriots. Plus, Patriots receivers led the league in yards per catch and receptions of 20 yards or more. So, Coughlin writes that his defensive plan was simple -- "Hit Brady at every opportunity, make him throw short passes, and stop his receivers with no additional yardage." Yahtzee!

Another lesson learned: Unemployment shouldn't affect your work ethic or your motivation. In between his Jacksonville and New York gigs, Coughlin kept going as if he were still coaching. He spent weekends watching college and pro games with the same intensity he has on the sidelines. He had the Jaguars' video director put together game footage for him to study during the week. Coughlin even went to the pre-draft scouting combine, where he bumped into then-Giants GM Ernie Accorsi -- a chance meeting Coughlin wrote was a factor in his eventual hiring.

Worth the read? If you ever played or worked for Coughlin, no. You might get migraines, because you’ve heard all this stuff time and time again. But if you’re a Giants fan, definitely. Coughlin works in little insider tidbits about certain players and coaches to reinforce his points. That stuff is far more interesting than anything else.