Coughlin was nicknamed as “Colonel Coughlin”, due to his high attentiveness to details and strict coaching style. He had everything to be done for the day minutely planned on a check-list, including coffee time and the walk around the locker room. Perfectionist, consistent, meticulous and disciplined: these are the words that, according to the players of the team that he coached, would do little to describe the man himself.
Coughlin still followed the old-school pattern of coaching his teams in a strict way lest they become wayward, and that strictness is punctuated by occasional jokes and light-hearted moment that players who have been under his military-style regimen will remember throughout. On a regular season his check-list would take no less than 17.5 hours to be complete with Coughlin's signatory "Secured" - a military code for mission accomplished or job done! That gives a vague idea about Coughlin's personality and character.
Coughlin is also the founder of Jay Fund (officially known as Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation) established in 1996 and named after Jay McGillis, a Boston College player coached by Coughlin who was diagnosed and later died from leukemia. From the time of it's establishment until 2008, over 1000 families of children with cancer had been assisted and over $2 million had been spent on providing support to those affected by this fatal disease. Oldest of seven siblings and Roman Catholic by religion, Coughlin has four children (two daughters and two sons) from his wife Judy, with whom he has been married since 1967.