It seems like everyone is trying to find some sort of angle to over-expose to the media with the Super Bowl on the horizon. Pittsburgh trying to be the first franchise to win 6 rings, Ben vs. Whis, and Whis vs. Tomlin. We’re all guilty of it, because there’s only so much you can talk about when you have two weeks until the game.
The Whis vs. Tomlin debate is cool, only because both guys are young, up-and-coming coaches who took very different paths to their current positions, and both have their teams in the big game after only two seasons of work.
But today, I’m not trying to find a certain angle, or give a Tomlin > Whis post. Today, I just want to give props.
2 years ago on this very day, we learned that the Steelers bypassed offensive line coach Russ Grimm for no-name Mike Tomlin out of Minny. The move was questioned by more than a few people, seeing as how the young Tomlin was barely older than the guys he’d be coaching. And he had no head coaching experience.
Tomlin has quieted nearly everyone (including his team) on his way to successive AFC North division titles and a Super Bowl berth. If you saw any of this coming on this day back in 2007, please leave because you’re lying.
I was a senior at St. Vincent College when I found out the news, and I was cautiously optimistic about the hire. I tried to get any positives out of it…mainly focusing on the parallels between the young, defensive-minded outside-of-the-organization Tomlin to the young, defensive-minded outside-of-the-organization Cowher back in 1992. While I hoped for the best, any worries I had were quickly thrown out the window when, just days after the hire, I briefly met Tomlin at St. Vincent, while he personally went over every minute detail of his first training camp location as a head coach. The man went everywhere, from the weight room to the locker rooms, to the caf…trying to find out every detail about this odd Benedictine campus that was about to host tons of athletes, staff and media.
To me, that was a perfect way to introduce himself to the Steelers faithful. Tomlin could’ve easily sent some no-name to scope the place for him, but there he was, hands-on and elbows-deep from the get-go. I knew right then that Tomlin had a special quality, one that would go over well with the hard-working Steelers fan…regardless of the new coach’s experience, coaching philosophy, race, age or strategy.
Oh, and my best friend Bob and I kept calling him Mike Epps and Omar Tomlin…so I’ll take credit for being one of the original Pittsburghers to make the Omar Epps comparison.
But in all honesty, with such a big game looming and way too many attempts to demonize players and teams, I figured the 2 year anniversary of Tomlin’s hiring was a good enough reason to praise the man who has done so much in so little time.