Though ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has already contradicted the story below, claiming Big Blue ownership are convinced players “respect” head coach Tom Coughlin (above) “even if they don’t like him,” let’s humor the New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano (very good in “The Karate Kid”, by the way) when he suggests Coughlin “will be coaching to save his job this afternoon.”

His contract expires after next season, but the Giants would prefer not to have a lame-duck coach working in the final year of his deal. So in a little more than a month, co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch are going to have to make a decision about Coughlin’s future.

At the moment, that future is far from secure.

The chaos of the last 10 days – which featured Tiki Barber ripping the play-calling, Michael Strahan and Plaxico Burress sniping at each other and Strahan going ballistic on the media – won’t help Coughlin’s cause either. According to one source, those in management already “Wish he wasn’t so hard on his players,” and they worry about the possibility of locker-room revolt.

That’s why, to this point, there have been no talks about extending Coughlin’s contract. Though neither Tisch nor Mara will comment specifically on Coughlin’s future, that inaction by itself is telling.

Of course, there’s a coach based in Southern California whom players love that just might want to take a third crack at the NFL. Unless you think the Arizona job is so attractive, the Giants cannot compete.

Not that I’d actually advocate the hiring of Pete Carroll, but it really does seem a matter of time before The Colonel is felled by unfriendly fire from his own troops.