Did Mike Tomlin want to hire Todd Haley?


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported after the regular season that Mike Tomlin wanted to retain offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

The Steelers and Tomlin never denied these reports. Two weeks later, the Steelers forced Arians to “retire.” Arians quickly found work with the Colts.

There is a strongly held belief in Pittsburgh that the Rooney family forced Tomlin to get rid of Arians. There is also some belief the Steelers forced Tomlin to hire Todd Haley as offensive coordinator instead of an in-house candidate.

Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette raises this question in a column for Thursday’s paper. PFT’s Mike Florio also heard chatter at the Super Bowl that Tomlin didn’t want to hire Haley.

The Steelers won’t ever confirm this. Tomlin will attend Haley’s press conference Thursday, but the head coach won’t speak. By the time Tomlin does speak, he’ll know just what to say to quiet any controversy.

Cook notes that Tomlin’s contract runs out after the 2012 season with an option for 2013, and wonders if Tomlin might want to move on to another job because of meddlesome owners. Tomlin looks weak in all this; head coaches are supposed to have control of their staff. (Especially Super Bowl-winning head coaches.)

The Rooneys are held up as some of the best owners in team sports, but we’d criticize the Cowboys or Dolphins ownership if they pulled a similar stunt with their coaching staff.

The difference is that the Rooneys have usually displayed great instincts with their decisions. (Like hiring Tomlin instead of an in-house candidate.) Perhaps hiring Haley will be the best thing for the Steelers, even if Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger don’t like the idea right now.

“It’s going to be definitely different for us,” Roethlisberger told Cook. “The powers that be make decisions and we live with it and go with it. We’ll just have to see where we go from here.”

60 responses to “Did Mike Tomlin want to hire Todd Haley?

  1. I’d like to know if the Rooneys followed the Rooney Rule in the interview process before hiring Todd Haley.

  2. There is NO “strongly held belief”, as you describe. This is one person in the media who has lost his mind. He (the writer) is also SPECULATING that Tomlin does not want to be in Pittsburgh after his contract is up after next year! I’ve got a really unique idea for this media person; how about let’s heard ONE SINGLE WORD from Tomlin before we classify the Steelers franchise in total disarray and chaos!!!!

  3. Maybe the Rooney’s noticed the same thing we all have; Big Ben is getting fat and complacent. He might need some tough love.

  4. Tomlin has every right to be steamed. With his record, he should be able to call his own shots with his staff. Leaving aside the clumsy firing of Arians, cramming Haley down the throat of their head coach is insulting. Do you think that Belichick, Coughlin or Sean Payton are treated this way? I know that criticizing the Rooneys is considered poor form, but on this one they deserve it. Regardless of what you think of the relative value of Arians vs. Haley, the principle of the head coach being able to choose his own staff should be respected.

  5. ravenfan820 says:
    Sounds llike the steelers may be coming into a period of unrest and problems at the top of the house….never good for the team on the field…..
    You wish.
    Just like the disarray the year the had the “unrest” with Ben and Santonio…and went to their 3rd Super Bowl in 6 years…

  6. I’m a Raiders fan and this sounds like the stories i’ve been hearing over the last 10 years or so. An overbearing owner forcing his canidates upon the head coach. If Tomlin gets fired next year for a sub-par year with a staff that he didn’t/ doesn’t want, watch out. You may be in for a LOOOONG stretch of head scratching while senility and ego take over the team. Good luck Steelers fans.

  7. thedudesnotin says:
    I’d like to know if the Rooneys followed the Rooney Rule in the interview process before hiring Todd Haley.
    No, because it doesn’t apply to co-ordinators…
    But they did follow it to fire their head coach

  8. The article by Cook is garbage. The local press in Pittsburgh is pissed because Arians fed them leaks for years, so they’re lashing out at the loss of their information pipeline, and blaming the Rooneys for making their jobs (slightly) harder.

  9. If Tomlin were to leave(not going to happen) I wonder if that would be enough to bring Cower out of retirement???

  10. This could work out good. By the end of next year, the Vikings will be around 4-12 and hopefully a disgruntled Tomlin will be out. Vikes can fire Frazier and Spielman after they underperform AGAIN and we can get Tomlin back to Minny!!!

  11. I don’t understand why this woulod even happen, provided it is true. Tomlin has two superbowl appearances, seems uber cool, obviously effective, always says the right thing and is someone many of teams wish they could have as their head coach.

    Also, while I agree that strong head coaches wouldn’t let this happen, Tomlin isn’t dealing with some podunk ownership, its the freakin Rooneys!

  12. How can Tomlin balk at the same process used to hire himself ? That process/hire can be considered a success, so why not trust this process/hire ? However, there is a point to consider that he was overridden. Either way, the franchise must press on with the 2012 season, and as all sports fans know, winning changes everything. So here’s to winning in 2012 Steeler Nation !

  13. Meddlesome? The only other time I ever remember the Rooneys pulling something like this is when they overruled Cowher’s desire to draft Shawn Andrews over Ben Roethlisberger. Other than that, nada. It’s not fair to make such speculations based on unconfirmed whispers at the Super Bowl.

  14. I think this is a whole lot of excitement being made out of nothing. Ron Cook has displayed his predisposition towards Sensationalist Journalism for a while now. Maybe Haley wasn’t Tomlin’s first choice, but my guess is that he wasn’t opposed to this hiring either. If anything it could be a nice way to protect the ego of Randy Fichtner who presumably got passed over for the OC job.

    The Rooneys and Tomlin have a strong working relationship and I highly doubt that this is anything more than business decisions.

  15. @ hannahsdaddy

    I stopped reading as soon as you started comparing the Rooneys to Al Davis because you obviously don’t have a clue.

  16. Disclaimer: I am a Steelers fan and this is a move that needed to happen. If you really watched this team down the stretch of the season the offense struggled badly. Granted there were a ton of injures but Mike Wallace’s production was down the last 6 games compared to earlier in the year. The ran game was terrible minus a few games, St Louis and Cincy games. It was time for a change and this sounds like a great one on paper. Also Roethlisberger, SHUT UP! I can’t stand it when you open that fat mouth of yours. You make poor decisions off the field and in life, i.e. your mullet at a press conference and bathrooms, so why should you be involved with coaching moves.

  17. ravenfan820 says:Feb 9, 2012 10:18 AM

    Sounds llike the steelers may be coming into a period of unrest and problems at the top of the house….never good for the team on the field…..

    Ratbird fans would like to think so. This is a non story made big by a media that now have nothing better to talk about now that the season has ended.


    Rooney rule is not in effect for OC, DC and assistants, but in case you don’t remember they did interview Caldwell…Hope this makes you happy.

  18. I’m not a Steelers fan, but Tomlin is a good coach and his players seam to play hard for him. If the Rooney’s are pushing coaches at Tomlin maybe Tomlin wanted more control and this is their way of saying no. If it is a contract year for Tomlin this could be a step in that direction. The Rooneys aren’t ones to fire HC they kept Bill on a down season. If Tomlin leaves it will be by his choice

  19. If the Rooney family forced this change to re-establish the Steeler identity of ball-control football and strong defense, it doesn’t make much sense to change from one pass happy offensive coordinator to another.

  20. @thedudesnotin

    I beleive Jim Caldwell was interviewed therefore yes they did. Keep up bro.

    People here in Pittsburgh are indifferent to this hire. Neither good or bad. Then we have the PFT writers of the world who have to meddle with non stories for a living. Want to know how this hire works out? Guess you gott wait for the game to be played instead of making inferences based upon gossip and hearsay.

  21. What does Tomlin care? Someone explain exactly what Tomlin does on gameday. LeBeau calls the defense, Arians called the offense, and Tomlin appeared to do nothing but cheerlead or strike his cool pose.

    Glaring weaknesses have not been addressed over the past few years. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. The Ravens and Bengals are both improving while the Steelers would tread water if left up to Tomlin. Thank God the Rooneys are taking a stronger hand and forcing Tomlin to not accept the status quo.

  22. The owners own, the coaches coach, and the players play. When these lines get blurred things get messy.

    The Rooney’s have every right to hire who the like, especially when they don’t like the direction of the team.

    If they didn’t talk to Tomlin first, then that is a mistake.

  23. Everyone needs to take a deep breath and relax. This is all just speculation and needs to be taken with a grain of salt. No one knows, except for Tomlin, whether he wanted or did not want Haley as his OC. Let it all play out before condeming the Steelers to mediocrity or Tomlin’s demise.

  24. Going one and done to Tim Tebow and the Broncos kind of takes away some of your juice.

    Scoring three points on a nationally televised Monday night game probably didn’t help either.

  25. the only “Writer” @ the Pitt PG worth anything is Ed Bouchette
    Ron Cook, Bob Smizik are 2 crotchety old men who need to be put out to pasture their #Views (opinions) are a joke

  26. Yep Tomlin didn’t want Him Jim Wexell said that Tomlin was “Very Impressed” with Haley in the Interview he had with him

  27. gbpackman says: Feb 9, 2012 10:23 AM

    Tomlin is a top five (or better) NFL coach. Steelers may want to give him a financial apology.
    Please stop it, Tomlin came into a great situation. It helps that the Steelers no how to draft and keep home grown talent. The pieces were/are in place. He’s no Jim Caldwell but to call him a top 5 coach is just ludicrous.

  28. @southflsteel:
    Exactly!! I think it is a little early to start talking about Tomlin being unhappy and leaving Pittsburgh, etc. That whole post is speculation. NO ONE knows what went down except the people in the organization and they are not talking. If people want to speculate at least base it on the way the steelers organization has handled things in the past and the results that this has produced. The conclusion that the post comes to is based on the idea that the organization is suddenly for unknown reasons changing the way they do things completely. Suddenly after all these years of success doing things one way, the Rooney’s are doing the complete opposite??? I have my doubts. Someone was just looking for controversey and steelers haters are feeding into because they wish it was true. Will this even be a story halfway through next season? I wouldn’t be on it.

  29. You folks are nuts. The Rooney’s have EARNED the right not not be second guessed about their decisions. Not a single person on this website has attended a meeting with any Rooney to discuss a coaching or staff change. None of us know why these decisions have been made, and the truth is the Rooney’s don’t owe us an explaination. Their decisions have been gold for 40+ years, or are those 8 Super Bowl appearances a fluke? Top to bottom, this organization is consistently in the top 5 in the sport, if not higher.
    As to Tomlin being pissed – look at it this way: he’s a great coach, no denying that. But does anyone doubt that if the Rooney’s had hired a different coach, that person wouldn’t have been as successful? Tomlin has benefited from the structure and competency of this organization that the Rooney’s built. Tomlin didn’t build this. The Rooney’s don’t owe him anything, in fact there’s a strong arguement it’s the other way around.

  30. This happened in the past with the Rooney family and the coaching staff, but we never heard about it. With all of the media outlets today, nothing is behind closed doors.

    Haley will work out, Tomilin will stay, the Steelers will be back in the Super Bowl.

  31. I don’t care how you slice it, from an organizational standpoint it is never a good thing for the owner to pick an assistant coach over the objections of the HC. If this is a one shot deal (i.e. the owner felt this was too important to the franchise to allow a HC’s loyalty to cloud his judgement) then it probably won’t be a big issue. Eventually everyone will simmer down.
    BUT, if this turns out to be the beginnings of a pattern…

  32. The Steelers could lose their entire staff, half their players and still beat my Bucs 48-0. But I would love to see Tomlin back in Tampa.

  33. A few comments:

    The Rooney Rule applies to head coaches. Even so, they did interview Caldwell for the OC postion.

    Tomlin will not leave. People need something to write about. Whethe you love or hate the Steelers, no one can argue that being the Steelers head coach is one of the top coaching gigs in the leauge.

    Even if Tomlin does leave, there will be many highly qualified canidates to replace him.

    Rooney writes the checks, bottom line. He made it clear last year the offense needed more balance. Lining up 5 wide on 3rd and short all the time is not wise.

    No one is bigger than the organization. Not even Tomlin. He is a paid employee as well and if the ownership wants to team to be going in certain direction, he can get on board or get out. Just like any of us in our jobs.

    To all the Steelers haters. You woul love to have these “issues”. The Steelers will be fine. The past is the best predictor of the future. Where does that put your team?

  34. ingraven says:
    Feb 9, 2012 10:33 AM
    Yes FINALLY the Steelers organization is beginning to crumble and as a Ravens fan I LOVE IT!!!

    Give me a break raven fan. Would you think the raven organization would be crumbling if the front office got rid of cam cameron. I am sure most raven fans would be happy to get a new offensive coordinator. oh, and you lost your defensive coordinator. And you are about to give a huge contract to flacco. big mistake!

  35. Total BS. Just watched the news conference online and it gave me no indication that Tomlin was forced here. He and Haley seemed to have a great repoire only after a few days of getting to know one another. This will be forgotten within 2 weeks. Some guys are just better as coordinators versus being a head coach. (Phillips, LeBeau)

  36. You are correct – we crucify Dallas and yet deify the Steelers for meddling? And I don’t really think anyone is crazy for thinking that ownership should allow the coaches to coach (even in Pitt) and to hire those that work for them as well. If it works out, fine, but it’s rare that owners know better than SB winning coaches.

  37. Who signs the checks? The Rooneys. That alone gives them to right to do whatever they want with the franchise. Tomlin, a great coach in my opinion, is like a general that has to keep all the Egos happy on the team. Like Eisenhower in WW2 if you will.

    Tomlin will find a way to make it work. Then step back and let everyone else take the credit. And let’s remember that offense knows offense and defense knows defense. The Philadelphia coach proved that when he named an offensive line coach to the position of defensive coordinator. Tomlin is a defense minded coach.

    Rothlisberger has to man up and play whatever is handed to him to the best of his ability. Not go whining to the owner. Football is still a team sport.


  38. The Pittsburgh beat men have needed to be put out to pasture LONG ago. They are downright awful, and invent “stories” to placate their own interests, truth be damned.

    Their obsession with Arians is so illogical and out of touch with the Steeler fan base, it is embarassing. We won a SB IN SPITE of not because of Arians. We have a great QB and finally have a core of young, talented receivers, yet our offense sucks, particularly the closer we get to the endzone. Yes there are OL issues. and yes Ben holds onto the ball too long sometimes and takes bad sacks. But the problem is deeper than that.

    There were just too many times that as soon as you saw the formation, you KNEW the playcall, and you KNEW it was going to suck. If me, Joe fan, knows this, do you think the opposing team doesnt know it? There’s no one else to blame for crappy formations other than Arians. It’s not an execution issue, or poor QB/WR route decision..it’s Arian’s terrible playcalls.

    Whether Haley is the answer..I don’t know, but we have been calling for the past couple years for someone, anyone, different to be OC.

  39. the rooney did this before when the steelers were getting to pass happy. I believe they were coming off a 7-9 year. they told cower we need to be a better running team to win. they then dedicated themselves to becoming that. then we started winning super bowls. the rooneys do not want the steelers to fall into that trap again. this is a preemptive strike to right the ship. I trust the rooneys. they are the best owners in football for a reason…

  40. Why does the “rooney rule” which by the way, is completely unconstitutional – only apply to head coaches and not coordinators – that doesn’t seem like equal rights to me?????

  41. Love the haters,,if you want to look at Rooney rule how about Caldwell in Indy…ops probably not allowed to say that. What exactly did they do wrong in Pittsburgh, hire someone they feel can do the job. No guarantee in house gets hired, how many in house leave every year to another team and no one is jumping up and down.

  42. Wait a second, are you telling me that the guy who signs the paychecks also wants a say in who gets those paychecks???

    Crazy, I’ve never heard of a business owner doing that……

  43. ianwhetstone says:
    Feb 9, 2012 10:27 AM
    The article by Cook is garbage. The local press in Pittsburgh is pissed because Arians fed them leaks for years, so they’re lashing out at the loss of their information pipeline, and blaming the Rooneys for making their jobs (slightly) harder.


    I’ve always suspected something was up with Arians and most of the Pittsburgh media. They seemed to always give him a free pass no matter how terrible the offense was. Dick Lebeau was criticized more and his defense is always number 1 or 2 in the league.

  44. As a Ravens fan the I am certainly not objective, but here goes.

    Ironic to me that the defense let the Steelers down most in the play-offs, not the offense. More specifically, the DC reluctance to adjust. I have said before he better learn to adjust more often because your two most dominate defensive players (92 and 43) no longer dominate every play. I am not being cruel, they just aren’t. They are great at times, it’s just less often.

    Bosses bring in people for managers to work with all the time in real life. Who cares if Tomlin doesn’t like it. If the boss says we are hiring Haley, then so be it. They will adjust. Non-story.

  45. The day I start worrying about a Ron Cook column–or Mike Tomlin quitting the Steelers when his contract is up because our owners are meddlesome–is the day I empty my bank accounts and give away all my possessions because 2012 marks the end of the world.

  46. Let’s be real for a second: if the gawd awful Ravens beat us twice in one season, something had to be fixed whether Tomlin or Big Ben liked it or not! The offense was clearly, clearly at fault.

  47. Tomlin’s cost the Franchise a lot in making their QB into a low performance highpay primadonna-
    Tomlin has taken credit for gaming style and wins with which he had nothing to do- ZERO contribution. Karma knocking on Tomlin and Roethelisberger’s doors- Haley could move right up to Head Coach.

  48. @rhondasays …

    The franchise has been to two Super Bowls in five years under Tomlin, and the quarterback’s numbers have skyrocketed–just not to the level of his capability. Ben was a prima donna long before Tomlin arrived. Just ask Cowher. If Haley moves up to head coach, it will be the first time they’ve hired an offensive HC or promoted to that position in half a century.

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