There'll be no change in the chain of command at Steelers HQ
Thursday, January 25, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Steelers' power structure will not change with the hiring of a young head coach, according to team president Art Rooney II.
The role of Kevin Colbert as director of football operations will be no different with Mike Tomlin as head coach than it was under Bill Cowher.
"No, we don't see that role changing," Rooney said. "Kevin has been a key part, a critical part of our success the last few years, and the way he's done his job is outstanding and we hope he continues to approach it the way he has."
It long was speculated that Cowher acquired more say in player personnel matters after the Steelers fired Tom Donahoe as their director of football operations in January 2000, and hired Colbert for that job a month later, a theory the Rooneys dispute. Although Donahoe pushed for the Rooneys to hire Cowher as their coach in 1992, the two grew apart so much that the owners decided eight years later it no longer was a good working relationship.
Cowher, at a Jan. 5 news conference to announce his resignation, thanked Colbert publicly for giving him a "second wind."
Colbert joined Art and Dan Rooney, the team's chairman, in a three-man committee to pick a new coach. Colbert pushed hard for the Steelers to hire Tomlin, who turns 35 in March. Colbert, who turns 50 Monday, will be on equal footing with Tomlin, neither his boss nor his underling.
"On our organizational chart, they're on the same line," Rooney said, "The same way it was with Bill. Organizationally, it works well, and we have no plans to make changes in that regard."
It's up to Tomlin and Colbert to work together on such decisions as which free agents to pursue; which of their own players to sign to new contracts, to release or allow to leave in free agency, and which players to draft.
"We're going to approach it the same way," said Colbert, who flew with Tomlin on a private jet Tuesday to Mobile, Ala., for Senior Bowl practices. "We talked about how we do things and our ideas on it.
"Mike's comfortable with that. Of course, as we go through -- and, as he said, learn each other and learn what we like and what we need to do -- I'm open to ideas. We all have to get better and learn and grow.
"The core values are there. I think we have the same values. Now, it's a matter of going through the process for one year and figuring out what we like and don't like and what's going to best serve us in the future."
Rooney reiterated a club draft philosophy he and his father long proclaimed, that it's not one man making the decisions.
"We look at it as a team decision and come together. The key is preparation. We don't expect to be in the draft room and have arguments, we expect that to happen weeks and weeks before draft. On draft day, we're always prepared."
The new coach said that suits him fine.
"The one thing that turned me on about this organization is that it's a collective effort with how we do things," Tomlin said. "Nothing is heaped upon one specific person. I look forward to working with Kevin on personnel matters and I'm excited about that, I really am."