Who's next?

In 1993, the Giants settled for Dan Reeves as their third choice after (irony alert here) Tom Coughlin and Dave Wannstedt turned them down as replacements for the miserably-failed Ray Handley. <BR><BR>

In 1997, Jim Fassel was the club's second option after Nick Saban declined a chance to take the helm in New York. Now after seven seasons under Fassel, the Giants find themselves once again looking for a new leader to roam the sidelines. TGI breaks down the top dozen candidates.

Tom Coughlin

Posted a 72-64 career mark in eight seasons as Jacksonville's head coach…Took Jaguars to playoffs on four occasions, making it to AFC Championship Game in 1996 and 1999…Head coach at Boston College (1991-93), following three years as the Giants WRs coach…57 years old.

Strength: They've wanted him before and still do. He has the pro experience and disciplined approach they desire.

Weakness: Seen as too tough a taskmaster who may hurt their pursuit of free agents.

The skinny: It's Coughlin's job if he wants it. However, rumors swirl that he'd rather the Bills or Syracuse post.

The odds: Even

Charlie Weis

In his seventh year with the Pats and third as offensive coordinator…Had a two-year stint as OC with the Jets (1998-99), following his previous stay in New England (1993-96)…Began his career with the Giants in 1990…Spent two years as New York's running backs coach in 1991-92…47 years old.

Strength: A Bill Parcells disciple with New Jersey roots that could fit into the Giants hierarchy.

Weakness: No previous head-coaching experience on college or pro level.

The skinny: Weis could benefit from being New York's second choice if Coughlin chooses elsewhere.

The odds: 4-1

Romeo Crennel

Patriots defensive coordinator since 2001…Was Cleveland's DC the previous season…Served as Jets defensive line coach from 1997-99, after serving as Pats DL coach from 1993-96…Began his professional coaching career in 1981 as a special assignments, special teams and defensive assistant coach with the Giants. He became the special teams coach in 1983 and was assigned the defensive line position in 1990, a position he coached for the next 11 seasons…56 years old.

Strength: Another Parcells disciple that appears ready for a head job.

Weakness: Questions persist regarding whether or not he can run the whole show.

The skinny: He will definitely get a look, especially since he's a former Giants assistant, but shouldn't hold his breath.

The odds: 10-1

Bill Cowher

The 1992 NFL Coach of the Year, Cowher's Steelers are going to miss the playoffs for only the fourth time in his 12 seasons…He has an impressive career mark of 112-82-1…Before becoming a head coach, Cowher was the Chiefs defensive coordinator from 1989-91…46 years old.

Strength: Arguably one of the game's best, most respected coaches.

Weakness: Isn't a certainty to be fired, so he might not even be available.

The skinny: The Giants still favor Coughlin, but would certainly give consideration to Cowher if he's on the market.

The odds: 12-1

Marty Schottenheimer

In his second season as Chargers head coach and his 27th NFL season…Previously guided the Cleveland Browns (1984-88), Kansas City Chiefs (1989-1998) and Washington Redskins (2001)…Has compiled a regular-season record of 164-111-1…Spent three years as a Giants assistant from 1975-77…60 years old.

Strength: Good friend of Ernie Accorsi and accomplished NFL coach.

Weakness: Not exactly viewed as the taskmaster type New York is looking for to replace Jim Fassel.

The skinny: While Accorsi likes Schottenheimer as a coach and person, he'll need a few people to turn down the job before he gets a call.

The odds: 15-1

Nick Saban

Spent the last four years at LSU, where he has the Tigers preparing to play for the National Championship…Coached Michigan State for five years, after serving as the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator from 1991-94…Career collegiate mark of 81-39-1…52 years old.

Strength: One of the up-and-coming stars in the coaching profession.

Weakness: Appears committed to LSU for the long run.

The skinny: Saban will require boatloads of money to bolt the Bayou. He's already turned the Giants down once; don't be surprised if this is the second time.

The odds: 20-1

Kirk Ferentz

In his fifth year with Iowa, where the Hawkeyes are 20-5 in the last two seasons…He's also spent six years as an offensive assistant/OL coach with the Ravens/Browns…48 years old.

Strength: Like Saban, one of the NCAA's hottest coaches.

Weakness: No professional experience.

The skinny: He only has a shot if the Giants are forced to turn to more choices than expected.

The odds: 25-1

Mike Zimmer

In his fourth season as the Cowboys defensive coordinator…Five times during his nine seasons in Big D, the Cowboys defense has finished the year ranked in the top 10 in total defense…47 years old.

Strength: The defensive-minded type of coach the Giants certainly could use.

Weakness: No head-coaching experience, which is something the Giants definitely covet.

The skinny: He might get an interview, but that would be about it.

The odds: 30-1

Jimmy Johnson

Has a career mark of 89-68, including two Super Bowl titles (Dallas) and a National Championship with Miami, where he had a 81-34-3 record in 10 years leading the Hurricanes…Finished 51-37 with two championships while in Dallas…Coached the Dolphins to a 38-31 mark…Has been happily retired in Florida since leaving the Dolphins in 1999…60 years old.

Strength: Probably the best candidate of all, as far as a coach/personnel evaluation man.

Weakness: Likely will have to be swept off his feet and blown away financially to start coaching again.

The skinny: Seems to be the fan favorite, and would be a great choice, but it's just not the Giants way.

The odds: 50-1

Lovie Smith

Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for the Rams since 2001…Served as Bucs LBs coach from 1996-2000…Was a DBs coach at Ohio State in 1995 before joining the pro ranks…45 years old.

Strength: Another rising coaching star expected to get a chance sooner or later.

Weakness: Has only been in the pro game for eight seasons.

The skinny: Probably won't get a serious look.

The odds: 75-1

Greg Blache

Bears defensive coordinator since 1999…Previously the defensive line coach for the Colts (1994-98) and Packers (1988-93)…54 years old.

Strength: Defensive-minded with plenty of assistant experience.

Weakness: Relative unknown who hasn't come close to landing head coach spot yet.

The skinny: We needed to fill out our list.

The odds: 100-1

Maurice Carthon

In first season as Cowboys offensive coordinator after two seasons in Detroit, where he was first RBs coach, then OC…Spent 1997-2000 as Jets running backs coach…Was the Giants fullback for seven seasons, including starting on both championship clubs, in 1986 and 1990…42 years old.

Strength: New York organization still very fond of former Giants player.

Weakness: Nowhere near ready to be an NFL head coach.

The skinny: The Giants would love to help Carthon's coaching career, but not at their own expense.

The odds: 1,000-1


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