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Hasselbeck Couldn't Say No to Coughlin

November 27, 2005|From the Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. — In 1992, Matt Hasselbeck was an honorable mention high school All-America quarterback in Westwood, Mass. He was about to realize his dreams of sun, fun, California girls -- and wide-open, Pac-10 football.

Hasselbeck had verbally committed to a scholarship offer from then-UCLA coach Terry Donahue. But before he signed, he went to Chestnut Hill, Mass., and the Boston College campus. Mostly, the short trip was to appease his father, Don, an NFL tight end for nine seasons.

Don Hasselbeck's last season was with the New York Giants in 1985.

The Giants' receivers coach that year was Tom Coughlin, who by 1992 was in his second season as the hard-driving, no-nonsense head man turning around Boston College.

So Matt went to see Coughlin, the antithesis of the laid-back, preppy-styled Donahue.

Bye-bye beach.

"I wasn't going there at all." Hasselbeck said of Boston College as his Seattle Seahawks prepared for Coughlin's Giants in a showdown today of NFC division leaders.

What changed his mind?

"Honestly, I was a little bit afraid to say no to Tom Coughlin," Hasselbeck said, not smiling. "You really respected him as a person. You just felt like this guy was going somewhere."

Coughlin thought Hasselbeck was going somewhere -- somewhere else.

"It wasn't an easy sell job, I'll tell you," Coughlin said. "I liked his competitive spirit and his love of the game. I liked his intensity."

Hasselbeck, not nearly as intense as Coughlin perceived, entered Coughlin's BC boot camp in the summer of 1993. His surreal memory of the militaristic Coughlin fawning over him as a teenage recruit ended about 15 seconds into his first day with the Eagles.

"It was one of the hardest years I've ever had in football," Hasselbeck said.

And he wasn't even technically on the team. Coughlin redshirted him that year.

"Talk about a coach who pushes his players and gets the most out of his players," Hasselbeck said. "Discipline and hard work were something I needed a little more of at that time in my life."

Running, early workouts, mandatory everything -- you name it, those Eagles had it.

"That group of guys in my freshman class, we'll never forget that year. It was a survival mode," Hasselbeck said. "A lot of guys transferred out that year. He made that program a lot stronger for being the kind of coach that he was."

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