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 turn Haley’s hire into a non-story.
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.”