In a news conference on the Boston College campus in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Coughlin said he had talked to George Young, the Giants vice president and general manager, earlier this week and again yesterday morning.
"Once I removed my ego from the equation," the 46-year-old Coughlin said, "I asked myself, 'What is right at this time?' And the answer is that Boston College is right for me."
That decision may have been influenced during his meeting yesterday morning with Chet Gladchuk, the Boston College athletic director, and four boosters of the college's athletic program. Coughlin said only that his contract was lengthened and his salary increased.
The Giants probably would have paid him $400,000 for the first year, and a person close to the Boston College athletic program said that with help from the boosters, the college might have matched it.
With Coughlin out of the picture, the first name on the Giants' wish list is believed to be Dave Wannstedt, the Dallas Cowboys' 40-year-old assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Coincidentally, Young flew to Dallas yesterday for a regularly scheduled NFL business meeting beginning today.
The Cowboys will play the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday in Irving, Texas, in the NFL playoffs. Wannstedt said previously that he would like to be an NFL head coach, and Jimmy Johnson, the Cowboys' coach and Wannstedt's close friend, said he would be willing to let another team interview Wannstedt during the playoffs, an unusual concession. Wannstedt said nothing had happened so far.
"I have not been contacted by anyone in the NFL regarding a head coaching job," he said. "My main concerns at this time are to help the Dallas Cowboys prepare for a playoff game Sunday."
Beyond Wannstedt, the candidates to coach the Giants are unclear. Young seems to have ruled out Bill Parcells, who coached the Giants to two Super Bowl titles in eight years before quitting in May 1991. Parcells, contacted by telephone, said: "I have nothing to say."
Dan Reeves, who was just dismissed after 12 years as coach of the Denver Broncos, is a possibility, although he would not have the power he had in Denver. Mike Ditka, dismissed yesterday after 11 years as coach of the Chicago Bears, is not a viable candidate.
Exactly what Young said to Coughlin was not clear. Coughlin described it by saying, "George Young asked me if the opportunity presented itself, would I leave Boston College at this time?"
Semantics aside, it seemed likely that Young either offered the job to Coughlin or told him that if he was interested, they would keep talking. Coughlin cut off the talks.
"There was one thought I could not shake," Coughlin said. "Had I achieved my commitment to Boston College and accomplished what I wanted to accomplish? We stand for winning, doing things right, the amateur game of collegiate football in its finest hour."