Steelers pick Grimm, source says
Steelers say coaching search not completed
By Mike Prisuta
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Russ Grimm has been offered and has accepted the Steelers' head coaching position, a source in Pittsburgh confirmed late Saturday.
Grimm, 47, succeeds Bill Cowher, who coached the Steelers for 15 seasons before resigning Jan. 5. The hiring of Grimm will be announced Monday at a news conference.
ESPN and SI.com, Sports Illustrated's Web site, reported yesterday that Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin had been chosen to replace Cowher.
An NFL source confirmed yesterday that Tomlin had not heard from the Steelers and no contract negotiations had taken place.
Grimm, a native of Scottdale, Westmoreland County, and a Pitt product, has been the Steelers' offensive line coach since 2001 and the team's assistant head coach since 2004. He played 11 seasons as a guard and center for the Washington Redskins from 1981-91 and is among 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2007.
Grimm began his coaching career as the Redskins' tight ends coach. He switched to offensive line coach for Washington in 1997.
Grimm was one of three finalists to replace Cowher, along with Tomlin and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Tomlin and Grimm had second interviews with the Steelers last week.
The Steelers would have had to wait until the Bears' season is completed to interview Rivera a second time. Chicago hosts New Orleans today in the NFC Championship Game.
Ken Whisenhunt, the Steelers' offensive coordinator last season, and Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey, a former Steelers assistant, also interviewed for the position.
Whisenhunt since has become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
The elevation of Grimm to his first head-coaching job figures to be welcomed by the Steelers' players.
Even before Cowher officially stepped down, a consensus had formed among the players that they preferred the Steelers stay in-house when the team hired its next head coach.
Grimm's ties to the area extend far beyond the six years he has been with the Steelers.
He starred at Southmoreland High School and then developed into an All-American center while at Pitt.
A third-round pick of the Redskins in 1981, Grimm became a member of the vaunted "Hogs" offensive line that proved to be a driving force behind a team that won three Super Bowls and played in four of them during his playing career.
Grimm, who retired after the 1991 season, played in four consecutive Pro Bowls (1983-86). He got into coaching after retiring and has worked under one Hall of Fame Coach (Joe Gibbs in Washington) and another (Cowher) who will likely be enshrined in Canton one day.
Grimm inherits a team that is less than a year removed from winning the Super Bowl but faltered last season.
The Steelers lost six of their first eight games and finished 8-8. They were physically dominated in a pair of losses to AFC North archrival Baltimore and did not get a chance to defend their Super Bowl title.
In addition to Cowher and Whisenhunt, the Steelers have lost running backs coach Dick Hoak (retired) and special teams coach Kevin Spencer (special teams, Arizona) from last year's staff.
Wide receivers coach Bruce Arians has said he believed his chances of becoming Steelers offensive coordinator were very good in the event Grimm became the head coach.