Steelers Would Let Butler Talk

By Ed Bouchette
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 9 years ago

Good morning,

Not much pressing today, so let’s just get to some small stuff:

--- If you were Art Rooney/Mike Tomlin and Ken Whisenhunt wanted to hire your linebackers coach and make him his new defensive coordinator in Tennessee, would you let him? You do not have to because Keith Butler is under contract. And if you do let Butler go, do you allow your running backs coach to become offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans? You do not have to because Kirby Wilson is under contract.

You have to decide what might be best for your own team vs. the fairness of allowing people in the business to better themselves. What would you do?

It may not matter at the moment with Wilson because I was told he would be Whisenhunt’s second choice and that John McNulty is his first, which also has been reported elsewhere. McNulty coached Whisenhunt’s quarterbacks in Arizona and was quarterbacks coach at Tampa Bay, where the entire staff was fired after the season.

--- I’m told now that if Whisenhunt asks permission to speak with Butler, the Steelers will allow it. It probably means they also will allow him to go. If that happens, I would assume Jerry Olsavsky would become their linebackers coach. He’s been on the staff as a defensive assistant, or what used to be known as the quality control coach, the past four seasons. Olsavsky, who turns 47 next month, is ready.

--- One man Whisenhunt will not hire is Russ Grimm, even though some have assumed that because they were together in Arizona. The two had a falling out. Grimm sat out last season collecting his salary from the Cardinals after they fired him.

--- Mike Tomlin still has just one opening on his staff, that of offensive line coach and other than interviewing his own offensive quality control coach, Shaun Sarrett, there has been no other known candidates he has talked to. Again, he should at least sit down with Tunch Ilkin.

--- The Cleveland Browns were second to fire their coach (on the night of their final game at Heinz Field) and look as though they will be among the last to hire one. They have been criticized because of that and maybe in their case it is justified. But while covering the past two hires the Steelers made for head coach, they did so deliberately, took their time, interviewed a ton of candidates and made their choice. Making an early hire does not mean making the best, but the Browns do not have the good history the Steelers have in hiring head coaches so, again, there probably is reason for their fans to worry about their approach.

--- Bill Cowher, 56, has a record of 149-90-1 as a head coach, all with the Steelers. That is a winning percentage of .623. He has one Super Bowl victory and one loss. He was 12-9 in the post-season that included two Super Bowl appearances and five AFC championship games.

Tony Dungy, 58, has a record of 139-69 as a head coach with two teams, fired by one. That is a winning percentage of .688. He was 9-10 in the post-season, including 7-6 in Indianapolis with what may be the greatest quarterback in NFL history. His teams appeared in one Super Bowl and three championship games.

Dungy is among the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Cowher has been eligible since 2007 and has never been a finalist (they changed the rules after that, making coaches wait five years rather than one and Cowher again became eligible in 2012).

The question is not whether Dungy deserves to be a finalist but, based on their records, should not Bill Cowher deserve it as well?