Mike Tomlin at the Monday press conference
RSJ Update: Late Sunday night, AP reported that Mike Tomlin has agreed to become the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This post was originally written the weekend before Mike Tomlin was named the Steelers head caoch.
What a mess. Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin will be named the new head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to SI.com, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (a former colleague in ATL), the Pitsburgh Post-Gazette and a flurry of sites. Late Saturday, Tomlin, 34, was still saying the news is “untrue,” telling ESPN.com that he has not talked to the Rooneys. But the Post-Gazette reported Sunday that the Steelers had finally spoken to Tomlin and were negotiating a four-year deal with an option year.
Conflicting reports were rampid. Some stated Tomlin was the man. Others said the Steelers were still undecided between Tomlin and Pittsburgh assistant Russ Grimm. Yet another report – this one from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – said Grimm is the guy. Why all the confusion? Some said the Steelers did not want to take light away from the conference championship games by naming their coach today. (Note to Rooneys: Way too late on that one.)
Nothing again Grimm, but I hope Tomlin gets the nod. The NFL, lauded for its progress in hiring non-white coaches, lost two black coaches during this off-season and gained none when Arizona, Atlanta and Miami filled its vacancies. Only Pittsburgh and Oakland remained to fill their top headsets
Two steps forward, one step back. All teams have complied with the Rooney Rule to interview at least one non-white candidate but none have thus far hired anything other than white men. The Rooney Rule only applies to head coaching vacancies but it should also apply to coordinator positions. Those are key spots from which head coaches are often plucked and if non-white coaches fill their staffs with non-white coordinators, well, we’ve seen that movie.
Tomlin would be a surprise hire to many. He was not highly touted at the beginning of the NFL firing/hiring season. But the Vikings defense was one of the league’s most effective and he has clearly impressed the Rooneys. He’s quietly operated under the radar, which is often the best thing for us. You can’t be locked in the cross-hairs if no one knows you’re there. Now he’s been touted as “the man” in Pittsburgh and I’m sure Tomlin was hoping on Saturday – as any black man would – that being thrust into the light prematurely wouldn’t hurt him. From what I hear of the Rooneys, it won’t. They’ve talked the talk. Now let’s see if they walk the walk.