There’s been a lot of protesting coming out of Pittsburgh lately. Some may wonder whether they’re protesting too much.
On Thursday, owner Art Rooney II told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that coach Mike Tomlin made the decision to hire offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
“I think the bottom line is, Mike was comfortable that’s who he wanted to come in,” Rooney told Bouchette. “It may be fair to say that when he started the discussions and Todd’s name was on his original list, I don’t think he expected that Todd was the guy he was going to wind up hiring. But as he had more conversations with him, he became more comfortable that he was the right guy for the job.”
The real question becomes how Tomlin went from not expecting that Haley would be hired to becoming sufficiently comfortable to hire him. The fact that the decision to retire-fire Bruce Arians apparently came from a pay grade or two above Tomlin invites if not encourages speculation that the decision to hire Haley was at best influenced and at worst made by someone else.
“I wouldn’t want my role in it to be overestimated because Mike has to decide who he wants on the staff,” Rooney said. Still, the confusion regarding the departure of Arians has opened to door to uncertainty as to whether Tomlin had the power to decide to keep Arians — which necessarily carries over to whether Tomlin had the sole power to hire Haley’s replacement without the input or consent of ownership.
The ongoing effort by the Steelers to create the impression that Rooney isn’t meddling with the football operation has obscured, at least for now, the question of whether the Steelers through Haley will be able to get the most out of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “I had a good conversation with Ben the other day and he’s anxious to get started and to get to know [Haley],” Rooney said.
The short-term and long-term future of the franchise’s offensive performance could hinge on whether, when the two men get to know each other, they like what they see and hear.