Mike Tomlin should be honored, not offended, by USC chatter

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On Monday, USC legend Carson Palmer threw Mike Tomlin’s hat in the ring for the vacant job with the Trojans. On Tuesday, the Steelers coach provided a passionate denial of any interest — past, present, or future — in any college job.

Tomlin took it a step farther, coming off as offended by the notion that he’d be asked about the USC job. He wondered aloud whether Chiefs coach Andy Reid or Saints coach Sean Payton are getting those kinds of questions.

Actually, Payton went through a stretch where he got constant questions about possibly leaving the Saints. Every November or December, Sunday Splash! reports suggested that Payton was on the way out. He’s still there.

As to Reid, why would anyone think a guy in his 60s with Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback would want to start over, especially with any college team?

Besides, Tomlin isn’t the first NFL coach, successful or not, to be linked to college jobs. It happens, and for good reason. The money can be comparable, especially since the Steelers don’t pay market value to head coaches.

Besides, USC isn’t some mid-level program. The team currently stinks, and it’s looking to re-establish itself. Combine Los Angeles with the name, image, and likeness revenue possibilities and a coach with extensive NFL experience, and the Trojans could become Tuscaloosa West, getting the best of the best recruits as it becomes the newest pro football factory.

So which NFL coaches would be targets to transform USC, and are young enough to be there for 15-20 years, if all goes well? Tomlin, Payton, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Titans coach Mike Vrabel all make sense. Or how about Rams coach Sean McVay. Or maybe 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan?

Part of the problem is that NFL head-coaching contracts tend to be a little harder to escape than college contracts. Even if Tomlin wanted out, the Steelers could decline to let him go. Ditto for any other NFL coaches whose contracts extend beyond 2021.

Meanwhile, USC has accomplished the mission of creating buzz about the job. The question now becomes whether they can find a head coach who will make the program what it once was.

15 responses to “Mike Tomlin should be honored, not offended, by USC chatter

  1. “Mike Tomlin should be honored, not offended, by USC chatter”

    Internally, I’m sure he is. However, this kind of nonsense created solely by a self-serving media machine hell-bent on generating clicks/revenue by inventing “news stories” as opposed to reporting facts and truth, is a distraction that he doesn’t need in the middle of a season.

    He’s a good/great coach and he’d be doing his players, organization and his own reputation a huge disservice by showing anything but contempt for such a suggestion that blatantly undermines his current standing.

  2. I think Tomlin’s viewpoint is, he didn’t want the speculation to cause distraction for the Steelers, so he ended it as firmly as he felt necessary. Why would he want his players to think he has a foot out the door, or put them in the position to answer more questions about it?

  3. He could be honored if they pursued him, I guess. But there’s no reason to be honored by unfounded media speculation or a former player throwing a name out there to see where it goes.

  4. Why did Tomlin mention at the end… “Anybody asking Sean Payton about that, anybody asking Andy Reid stuff about that?” Is he really upset because he believes this is racially motivated? It’s too bad if that’s the case. Most people usually feel good about being wanted, but it doesn’t appear so in this case.

  5. I can’t be the only one who thinks that a head coach moving from the pro game to the college game is a major step down. The only way it would be worth it in my mind is if the move to the college game involves a major step up the coaching hierarchy (like position coach in the NFL moving to a head coach position in college).

  6. He’s also been mentioned with the LSU opening, as well.
    Obviously, these are pipe dreams rather than actually plausible, by the schools.
    Remember Gruden to Tennessee every time that opened?

    I wonder if Bieniemy would take a job at either?
    Those are big-time, big-money jobs. Few good years at one of these and he can name his asking price in the NFL, more than likely.

  7. burlingtonbills says:

    Why did Tomlin mention at the end… “Anybody asking Sean Payton about that, anybody asking Andy Reid stuff about that?” Is he really upset because he believes this is racially motivated? It’s too bad if that’s the case. Most people usually feel good about being wanted, but it doesn’t appear so in this case.

    Yeah, so let me get this straight. Being mentioned as a candidate for another job is now offensive? Tomlin seems to be able to offended by everything. #smh

  8. Good for Tomlin. I love to see the media be held accountable for asking meritless questions just to stir the pot.

  9. What Tomlin’s referring to is the other 2 long-time winning Super Bowl winning NFL coaches who are having a down year. Why is he being speculated to be on the way out of his team and not the others? I would be offended too, SB winners don’t go to compete against Urban Meyer for college jobs.

  10. He obviously isn’t doing it, but at the same time, look at this hypothetical situation:

    He’s got a track record of winning with even the most toxic personalities (Bell and Brown). He’s been the only coach that can still consistently win with that kind of trash going on. He starts coaching at the college level he has the ability to weed that kind of nonsense out at the base level, or instill discipline in them that’ll make them better as their adults

    Yea, he’d be a fool to leave Pittsburgh. But USC would be fools to not at least inquire.

  11. It’s funny he tried to elevate himself as if he’s in Andy’s category of coaching…. Thai is why no one outside of Pittsburgh can stand this guy, he thinks he accomplished something by taking over a team that Cowher created, and that he never should’ve left. It’s the same thing as the Gruden SB despite it being Dungy’s team.

  12. One can only hope that he’d take the offer. And take Big Ben with him.

    Tomlin is too concerned with his non-losing season streak to be bothered to rebuild the Steelers.

  13. If USC or LSU are talented teams, Tomlin would take one of those jobs. Just like when he took the Steelers’ job.

    Everyone makes a big deal out of recruiting by the head coach. There are recruiters on staff at large programs that do the legwork. The head coach seals the deal many times with a Zoom call nowadays.

    Tomlin would make way more cash with one of those jobs, but the team has to be talented first and foremost.

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