In advance of Thomas McGaughey's introduction to media and fans next week as our new special teams coach, I thought it would be interesting to reveal the five most interesting things I've discovered about him in a day of research.
1. When McGaughey arrives, title games follow.
Thomas, you've read, was a DB at the University of Houston, on the Eagles' practice squad for a season, and with NFL Europe's Barcelona Dragons for a season. In that year overseas, the Dragons won the World Bowl.
As a coach, he came to the Giants as assistant special teams coordinator in '07. That season the Giants won it all, including the Super Bowl win over the previously unbeaten Patriots.
In '11 he left the Giants to become LSU's special teams coordinator. The Tigers played Alabama in the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.
We're sure this is all coincidental. Still, if McGaughey is magical, count us in for the mystery tour.
2. When McGaughey coaches, touchdowns follow.
Initial reports were that McGaughey's special teams produced five touchdowns in his three seasons down on the Bayou — two punt returns by Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu in 2011, two PRs by Odell Beckham Jr. in '12, and a kickoff-return TD by Morris Claiborne in '11.
But this shorts McGaughey's units by two TDs. In the '11 season opener, Mathieu also produced a touchdown when he forced a fumble on an Oregon punt return and scooped it up for a 3-yard TD.
And in this past year's Game 2, Beckham took a UAB missed field goal attempt the distance. "I have to give credit to Thomas McGaughey," coach Les Miles said of the play after that game. "He kind of recognized the potential of that happening."
As an aside, Beckham was credited with only a 100-yard return but that's because NCAA scoring rules, unlike the NFL's, don't recognize end zone yardage on return plays. Observers at the game said Beckham took the missed 59-yard kick one yard inside the end line.
Thus the Jets now have on their rosters a coach who helped draw up the play that tied for the longest possible return in college football history and a player (Antonio Cromartie) who is still and will always be tied for the longest possible play in NFL history (a 109-yard missed-FG return for San Diego vs. Minnesota in '07).
3. When McGaughey coaches, punts don't get returned.
In 2005, Thomas' first year as Denver's assistant ST coordinator, the Broncos allowed 6.9 yards per opponents' punt return. That minuscule average was no doubt a selling point when he first came to the Jersey Meadowlands.
The Giants were in the lower middle of the pack from '07-10 in opponents' punt-return average, but the magic returned at LSU. In McGaughey's three seasons there, Tigers opponents averaged 3.7, 3.5 and 3.1 yards per return.
In other words, if a punt returner caught a punt and just fell forward on his facemask, he'd have gained close to what he would have averaged if he'd tried to run and McGaughey's marauders tackled him
4. How's it pronounced?
Not having heard his name pronounced before, I came up with about 10 different ways to go. But the LSU media guide and my sources here in Florham Park say it's pronounced Mc-GAY-hee, as in Willis. Which, thankfully, was one of the ways I thought it would be pronounced. But I'm guessing we'll be referring to Coach T-Mac a lot this year.
5. What is McGaughey's metaphor?
In other words, what words and phrases are we likely to associate with McGaughey as our STC? That's a tough one, because it seems he wasn't given or didn't take the opportunity at LSU to talk to reporters a lot. There are precious few quotes that contain the phrase "McGaughey said" or vice versa.
In a 2011 Wall Street Journal article on P Brad Wing out of Australia, one of McGaughey's three LSU All-America specialists, the coach is actually quoted as saying, "It's almost like you walk into a garage sale and see a Picasso sitting in the corner, and nobody else really knows what it is. So you sprint over there and grab it. That's what I did with Brad."
And in a '12 article on acsa.lsu.edu, Wing and then K Drew Alleman said they live by advice McGaughey has given them: "Keep pressure in your back pocket. It can be your friend or your enemy, but make it your friend."
Fortunately, we have this tweet from The Original T-Mac posted earlier today that sounds like the words of a new Jets coach:
So excited to be a member of the #JetNation! I look forward to that world famous chant...J! E! T! S! JETS..JETS..JETS!!! #GangGreen #Jersey — The Original T-Mac (@CoachTMcGaughey) February 7, 2014
We'll hear more from Coach in a few days.