Just like they did with the hiring of unknown coaches Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, the Steelers have made a decision that on the surface does not match up, but that to the people that run the team make the most sense for where they are at as an orgainization. The team has reportedly made 34-year-old Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin an offer to become the teams next head coach. The word out of Pittsburgh from day one is that Tomlin blew them away in two interviews, enough to not ever make a serious run at supposed front runners Kent Whisenhunt, who has ended up taking the job as Cardinals head coach, and Russ Grimm, who many thought would be the shoe-in for the job after Whisenhunt left for the Cardinals.
While Tomlin will likley revamp the Steelers staff, he does come in bringing with him some great history in the short time he has been a coach, including coaching the Tampa Bay Bucs secondary under now Colts head coach Tony Dungy. He is well equiped from the defensive side with a great knowledge of the cover-2 defense, but what he will do with the Steelers offense remains to be seen. Many insiders in the league have already stated that if Tomlin was not hired by the Steelers, that he would be head coach within a year, which is amazing considering his age.
If there is one thing though that the Steelers brass knows about, its hiring head coaches. They took a shot on Noll when many knew little about him, and did the same with Cowher back after the 1991 season. Under Cowher, the Steelers went from 7-9 in 1991 in Noll’s last season to 11-5 in 1992, winning the AFC Central for the first time at that point in 8 seasons. So to think that Tomlin would come in and have to wait a few years to build a winner is not exactly what the Steelers have in mind. He will come in with the same lofty goals placed on him that Cowher in his tenure, and that is to win a title.
Can the Steelers brass make it 3-for-3 when it comes to hiring solid head coaches? Only time with Tomlin at the helm will tell. If the past is anything to go by, you can’t argue that Tomlin is a good hire. He is a risky hire considering the team is passing on Grimm and already did on Whisenhunt, but for now, he is the right man for the job in the Rooney’s minds. Only time will tell if he has the type of tenure of Noll and Cowher.