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January 23, 2007
Tomlin To Helm The Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers picked another young replacement for a long-term coach by going outside the organization for Mike Tomlin. The 34-year-old defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings is the same age as Bill Cowher when he got the job 15 years ago:

The Steelers made Tomlin's hiring official Monday morning, but it is unclear whether Childress discussed the job with Spagnuolo before he joined the Giants. Childress, in his first public comments since Pittsburgh named Tomlin a finalist for the job last week, said Tomlin "did a great job for us" in 2006.

"I'm really happy for Mike," Childress said in a statement released by the Vikings. "He is a class guy and a good football coach and deserves to have this opportunity. ... I know he will be successful in Pittsburgh." ...

Dressed in a black suit with a gold tie, Tomlin pledged to "have a first-class, blue-collar work ethic in how we approach our business" in Pittsburgh. At only 34 years old, he said he looks forward to connecting with his new players.

"I don't think it will take them long to realize my goals as a coach are no different than any other coach they've ever had," Tomlin said. "I think mutual respect is required. I have a job to do from a coaching standpoint. They've got a job to do from a playing standpoint. My age is my age. I've never had a problem with [coaching] men. When I broke into the league [in Tampa Bay], I coached John Lynch. John's older than me. I don't anticipate it being a problem, and really, more than anything, I just look forward to getting to know the men and moving forward."

It's a good hire for the Steelers. Tomlin has done excellent work here in Minnesota in bolstering a defense that Denny Green mostly ignored in successive drafts. The Vikings defense this year hearkened back to the Purple People Eaters of the 1970s at times, even if their offense was less than impressive under Brad Childress. Tomlin even made his first good decision, which was to keep Dick LeBeau as the Steelers' defensive genius in place.

The Steelers' Dan Rooney had made minority hiring a priority for the league in head coaching positions, even if they had only hired two head coaches in over 30 years. This time they surprised some by not keeping Ken Whisenhunt or promoting Russ Grimm, but looking outside the organization. In fact, some reports had Grimm already being promised the job, only to have it rescinded when they found Tomlin, a rumor the Rooneys hotly denied.

Tomlin should make a good head coach -- and with enough time, maybe even a great one. Given the Steelers' history, they may not have to make another coaching decision for another generation.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 23, 2007 4:37 AM

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