Ben McAdoo has never been a head coach at any level of football. The closest he ever came was after the 2002 season at Fairfield University when he was named assistant head coach — right before the program was disbanded.
“I guess technically he was the interim head coach for about 10 days,” recalled former Fairfield head coach Joe Bernard, who left that dying program at the time and now is the offensive coordinator at the University of Albany, in a phone interview with Newsday.
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The Giants hope this new gig lasts a little longer.
On Thursday they officially named McAdoo the 17th head coach in franchise history. He joins a list that includes Hall of Famers Steve Owen and Bill Parcells and follows potential future Canton resident Tom Coughlin with that title. At 38, he becomes the second-youngest head coach in the NFL, just 31⁄2 years older than his starting quarterback.
“Some have suggested he may not be ready,” Giants co-owner John Mara said in the statement announcing the hire. He did not entirely disagree with that prevailing sentiment. In fact, he embraced it.
“As I said last week,” Mara added, “we want a coach who feels like he has something to prove.”
McAdoo said he looks forward to doing just that.
“I have been preparing for this moment my entire professional life,” he said, “and without the guidance and support of many people, I would not be here right now.”
McAdoo will be publicly introduced at a news conference on Friday morning, but no introduction is necessary. He’s already a familiar presence for the Giants, having worked as their offensive coordinator the past two seasons. He was the coach Eli Manning wanted to keep — either as offensive coordinator or head coach — when it became clear that Coughlin’s tenure was ending.
McAdoo was the first to interview for the job with the Giants, meeting with Mara and general manager Jerry Reese on Jan. 5. He also interviewed with the Eagles last week. On Thursday, he had a second interview with the Giants, meeting with co-owner Steve Tisch and treasurer Jonathan Tisch, after which he was offered the job.
“I am happy for Ben and happy for our franchise,” Steve Tisch said. “Ben’s mentors in coaching, including Tom Coughlin, are impressive. We look forward to much success under Ben’s leadership.”
The Giants interviewed five other candidates: Steve Spagnuolo, Teryl Austin, Doug Marrone, Mike Smith and Adam Gase. Gase was hired by the Dolphins to be their head coach. Spagnuolo is expected to stay on McAdoo’s staff as defensive coordinator.
Though it is not official, sources indicate Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan will be promoted to offensive coordinator and former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who worked with McAdoo in Green Bay, will be added as quarterbacks coach and possibly will have the title of assistant head coach.
While McAdoo improved the Giants’ offense in two seasons, the team was 6-10 in both campaigns. Mara has pointed to the roster strength as the main culprit, and the announcement of McAdoo’s hiring said McAdoo and Reese “will collaborate with the team’s personnel departments in reshaping the Giants’ roster.” That’s no different from the relationship Coughlin had with Reese.
“Ben is very excited, and I’m very excited and happy for him,” Reese said. “We are looking forward to working closely together and can’t wait to get moving with the offseason.”
“I look forward to working with Jerry,” McAdoo said. “We have a lot of work to do, and it will take a collaborative effort for Jerry and I to achieve what is always the goal for this franchise: another Lombardi Trophy.”