The subject of rumors Tom Coughlin is a preferred candidate for the head coaching vacancy at Notre Dame took center stage today at Coughlin's noon press conference.
Coughlin was sternly asked to declare or deny his interest in Notre Dame. The Jaguars coach's response was just as stern.
"I have not been contacted by Notre Dame nor am I willing to comments on rumors. I will make no further comment. I have a job and I'm happy in my job and I'll make no further comment," Coughlin said.
But the questions didn't stop there. The issue was pressed by reporters.
"You tell me what the rumor is," Coughlin said.
"Why would that be?" he said of a rumor that has surfaced on and off for two years. Of course, the rumor became headlines across the nation this past weekend when Notre Dame fired coach Bob Davie.
"Could it be being Irish Catholic and having beaten Notre Dame? It's flattering but the fact of the matter is I have a job, it's a good job, I love the job and I have not heard one word from Notre Dame," Coughlin said.
Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez's name immediately joined Coughlin's in the rumor mill when Davie was fired, but Monday Alvarez said he was not interested in returning to Notre Dame, where Alvarez had been an assistant coach.
Coughlin talked today of his commitment to the Jaguars. "When I came here I came here for the long term. Do I believe in my heart there's something worth fighting for? Yes, I do," said Coughlin, who added he maintains his burning desire to lead the Jaguars to the Super Bowl.
"These are not fun times," he said, about 12 hours after his team suffered its eighth loss of the season, a 28-21 defeat to visiting Green Bay Monday night. It was a game in which the Jaguars held a 21-7 lead in the third quarter, but it ended with the Jaguars having allowed the game-winning score late in the fourth quarter for the sixth time this season.
"Frustration is a better word for me right now. I don't feel helpless. I always look to the facts. The facts last night were very plain to me. We were in position to win a close game and we did not get it done," Coughlin said.
"I've basked in the sunshine of good times and I'm struggling now when they're not. I'm being as positive as I possibly can be with the players. Our players play hard. I think they will continue to play hard. Be discouraged, but don't despair. That's what I tell them," he added.
Coughlin will also tell his players they were victimized by what he believes were improper officials calls on two critical plays. A pass-interference penalty nullified a Fernando Bryant interception near the end of the first half, and Green Bay converted that reversal into its first touchdown of the game. In the second half, Patrick Washington was flagged for an illegal block as Elvis Joseph was returning a kick 65 yards.
"I really don't believe they were the better team," Coughlin said of the Packers. "I can not find Fernando Bryant's pass interference. Patrick Washington's block is probably as good a block as you'll see. Those two plays should've stood."
Coughlin's mind was still on last night. Fans and media are curious about what lies ahead.