Appearing on local radio stations helps give me a good sense of what’s being said about the home team in its own town. On Monday, a visit with Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 the Fan in Pittsburgh caused me to do a spit take.
During the segment, Fillipponi suggested this idea for the Steelers: Trade Mike Tomlin, and promote Mike Munchak to head coach.
It’s a stunning thought, an ultra-aggressive approach for an uber-conservative team that has allowed its insistence on continuity among its coaches to become part of its identity. But with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger publicly stumping for Munchak to stay with the team at a time when he’s one of the finalists to coach the Broncos, it’s an intriguing thought.
“I pray that fans write as many letters as they can to Mr. [Art] Rooney to keep Coach Munchak around,” Roethlisberger recently said. “He’s such a special coach. When the linemen are happy and love to play for their coach, they play better.”
With vacant jobs starting to fill (three have been filled in the past 24 hours or so), it could be hard to find a suitor for Tomlin, if the Steelers were inclined to even try. And the concept knocked me wobbly in large part because, typically, the trade of a coach happens when another team wants to get him, not when his current team wants to unload him.
If the Steelers were to start making phone calls about a possible Tomlin trade, and if any of that were to get out, how could the Steelers move forward with Tomlin? It would be difficult if not impossible. Also, with the three NFC vacancies now filled, the Steelers’ only remaining options could be within the AFC: Jets, Dolphins, Browns, Bengals, Broncos.
Of course, the notion that Tomlin could be available could prompt a team with a coach currently under contract to inquire about the possibility. And Tomlin’s minority status would allow the transaction to happen quickly, with no traditional coaching search.
The chances of it happening are somewhere between slim and none, but it’s an intriguing idea, one that should at least prompt interested teams to ask themselves whether it’s worth making a call.