I have purposely avoid discussing the topic of sports in my blog because I no longer cover the daily sports news, now that I am co-anchoring the morning news. That does not mean I don’t still have opinions, insights and thoughts on the games that people play after 15 years as a sports reporter.
Bill Cowher — the only Steeler coach that I have known — resigned after 15 seasons last week. While I believe his accomplishments are worthy of the hall of fame – someday – I was genuinely surprised as to how Steeler fans reacted to the news. I always thought there was a real connection between the hometown coach and the fans. But after watching some of the man-on-the-street reaction, I saw fans as indifferent and some even saying the time was right for a change. Think I’m not seeing the bigger picture? Consider this: Unlike when Jerome Bettis retired, I have yet to hear anyone chanting “one more year” for the chin.
I think this is because Cowher — while successful and consistent – failed to deliver more than one world championship. Remember, he coached the Steelers to six AFC title games – and only won two of them. In this town, we celebrate champions, not near misses. Remember: The Steelers best team of all-time ( by those who follow football history ) was the 1976 Steelers, but their failure to win it all leaves them as just a footnote in football history.
Who should get the job? I know Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm well having spent time with both of them away from the football field. I believe that one of them will leave if they don’t get the job and it’s my opinion Ken should be hired. Not just for what he would bring to the table as a coach, but also because unlike many of today’s sideline leaders he would not take off after a couple of season for the riches of another job. Ken realizes a contract is a contract and knows that being the head coach of the Steelers — if he does well — could be a lifelong job. Of course, and you heard it hear, do not be surprised if Vikings assistant Mike Tomlin gets the job. He is in the coaching mold of a Bill Cowher and this team has a history of hiring coaches who are often under the radar. Tomlin would be consistent with that coaching history — and would be the first African-American head coach in Steeler history.