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Love It or Leeve It: Parcells Can't Win Without Belichick

By Brenda Lee, Crimson Staff Writer

With the Cowboys traveling to face the Patriots on Sunday, the issue inevitably arises—which “Bill” is worth more?

After years of working together in the Giants, Patriots and Jets organizations, Bill Belichick and Bill Parcells will coach against each other for the first time since 1995. The two bitterly parted ways in a dramatic news conference in 2000, when Belichick resigned as coach of the Jets when he was to accept the position from Parcells. Instead Belichick, Parcell’s defensive coordinator, settled himself back in their old stomping grounds at New England as the head coach.

The rift between the two is obvious, but their personal conflict aside, the question remains which Bill was more valuable in their success when they coached together.

Put your money on Belichick. Just look at what they have accomplished on their own.

Belichick was able to guide a Patriots team with mediocre talent and a huge question mark at quarterback to the Super Bowl in 2001—and win. Unlike his mentor Parcells, Belichick earned a title without the other coach’s help and managed to turn his choice of Tom Brady into a genius move.

Belichick’s current stint with the Patriots is his second chance at coaching autonomy, having coached the Cleveland Browns after their second Giants Super Bowl in 1990. The first time around, Belichick was a young coach with a so-so team on his hands, going 36-44 in five seasons. Belichick’s maturation from that time is clear from the way he handled the Brady-Drew Bledsoe controversy as opposed to the Benny Kosar-Vinny Testaverde scandal with the Browns.

But Belichick still showed flashes of individual success-to-come in Cleveland during his one playoff year, when he beat Parcells and the Pats in the 1994 Wild Card game.

When you look at all of the Tuna’s success, he has always had Belichick as his right-hand man. Together they won two Super Bowls in five years with the Giants, in 1986 and 1990, and took a 1-15 Jets team to the AFC championship game after just three seasons. When they coached together in New England in 1996, they went to the Super Bowl in their first season back together—after Parcells could only muster the wild card loss to Belichick on his own.

In the AFC playoff games in 1996, it was Belichick’s defense which controlled the games by allowing just nine points combined.

What Parcells has to do is win on his own, and he has brought a haphazard Dallas team (7-2) farther than anyone expected in his first season. But the Cowboys have benefited from an easy schedule, and the mystery of Quincy Carter is sure to fade.

Of the seven teams Dallas has beaten, only one (Philadelphia) has a winning record. Its losses are even more telling, with the Cowboys falling to Atlanta (2-7) and Tampa Bay (4-5). Dallas was shut out, 16-0, in the loss against the Bucs on Oct. 16, its first real challenge this season.

Meanwhile, Belichick has been juggling a never-ending string of injuries, using 40 different starters this season. He has been able to guide his team to the same record as Parcells against a much tougher schedule, with New England facing four teams with winning records. The Patriots beat all four.

Expect the Pats to do the same on Sunday because Belichick is a “Bill” worth betting on.

—Staff writer Brenda E. Lee can be reached at belee@fas.harvard.edu.

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