Steelers players say they preferred the in-house candidates for coaching job, but defer to Rooneys' expertiseI'm quite sure Kevin [Colbert] and the Rooneys made a good decision. All the reports I hear about people who know coach Mike said he's a great guy. I'm excited." -- Larry Foote, Steelers linebacker
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers players did not break into a dance to celebrate the news that Mike Tomlin would be their new coach, but they hope the owners' track record on such moves proves itself for the third time in the past 38 years.
"I thought there were good candidates in-house," said All-Pro guard Alan Faneca, an offensive co-captain. "But the Rooneys know what they're doing. They had two coaches in 38 years. I think they have the system down."
Faneca said last week that he thought his line coach, Russ Grimm, would "make a great head coach." Grimm and Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera were the other finalists.
Virtually every player polled before and after Bill Cowher resigned Jan. 5 said they would like to see the Steelers promote one of their assistant coaches, either Grimm or Ken Whisenhunt, the offensive coordinator who since became Arizona's head coach.
Steelers president Art Rooney and chairman Dan Rooney picked Tomlin on Sunday, after they and football operations director Kevin Colbert interviewed all five of the original candidates.
"I'm surprised, I guess you could say," defensive end Brett Keisel said of the choice. "I said this before, I have the most confidence in the Rooneys to select a coach -- they have, and now we can move forward."
"I'm quite sure Kevin and the Rooneys made a good decision," linebacker Larry Foote said. "All the reports I hear about people who know coach Mike said he's a great guy. I'm excited."
Some defensive players were relieved when they learned that Tomlin planned to keep coordinator Dick LeBeau in place. The Steelers have run a 3-4 defense since 1983.
"I heard LeBeau's staying," Foote said. "I don't think our defense will have any problems."
Tomlin ruled over a 4-3 defense as the Minnesota Vikings' coordinator, the same defense that was run in Tampa Bay when he was the Buccaneers' secondary coach for five years. It's possible he could add some wrinkles to LeBeau's defense.