Before beginning this post I started to look up some basic Mike Tomlin facts, like details about his early life herding sheep in Montana. You know, simple Wikipedia stuff.
And when I did that, I was almost startled when reminded that he’s only been the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers for five years. I knew this, but it was still surprising. Tomlin’s had so much success so quickly that it seems like he’s been with the Steelers at least a decade.
Yet here he is about to start just his sixth training camp as the Steelers’ sideline boss, and he’s already taken his team to two Super Bowls–winning one–while winning the AFC North division title three times. He’s never coached a team with a record below .500.
Upon reflection Tomlin’s success may be startling, but the Steelers’ desire to keep him in Pittsburgh isn’t, and a long-term commitment came today.
With two years remaining on his current contract, the Steelers added on three more, agreeing to an extension with Tomlin that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2016 season. In words that were likely written by a secretary somewhere at a lovely reception desk, Steelers owner Art Rooney II expressed his delight:
“We are pleased to announce that Mike Tomlin will remain with the Steelers for at least five more years. Mike is one of the top head coaches in the National Football League and we are thrilled he will continue to lead our team as we pursue another Super Bowl title.”
If Tomlin was a coach who had experienced more moderate success, this extension would be a bit premature, as often teams wait and make a coach prove himself, and then determine his future prior to his lame duck season. But with his 55-25 record and five playoff wins, Tomlin has little to prove.
The wins stat is an absurd one for quarterbacks, and any other position creative (see: absurd and archaic) minds apply it to in their attempts to fabricate an arbitrary judgement. But that’s the only metric which means anything for coaches. Win games, and the fanbase is happy, players will play harder, and ownership wants to hand you money. Lose, and your time at the highest level of NFL coaching will be brief.
Tomlin has won a lot of games in a town that’s conditioned to be loyal to coaches, after Chuck Noll won four championships over 22 years, and Bill Cowher then added another banner during his 15 years. Tomlin’s only the third coach in franchise history, and there may not be a fourth for a long time.