Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cowher's last season?

Training camp is only a month away and head coach Bill Cowher has still not signed a contract extension despite offseason talks between the team and his agent. That has led some to speculate whether the 2006 season might be Cowher's last go-round with the Steelers. Furthermore, Cowher recently bought a new home in North Carolina and now describes his employment status as year-to-year.

But there are several good reasons for Cowher to continue coaching the Steelers for many years to come. First, Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren just signed a new contract that pays him upwards of $8 million a year. That's roughly double what Cowher is earning now. And seeing as how the Steelers defeated the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, one might think Cowher could command a similar salary.

Second, Cowher has waited his whole career for a starting QB like Ben Roethlisberger, a player who--assuming he's healthy--gives Cowher a legitimate chance to get back to the Super Bowl sooner rather than later.

Third, in recent years Cowher has assembled what is arguably his best coaching staff. Dick LeBeau is arguably the best defensive coordinator in the league and Ken Whisenhunt's star is on the rise too. Why would Cowher walk away when he has a chance to win more games than ever before and cement his legacy as a Hall of Fame coach?

At any rate, if Cowher did walk away I believe Russ Grimm would be the odds-on favorite to take over the job. For one thing, Grimm already has the title of Assistant Head Coach, and by hiring from within the team would likely be able to retain most of Cowher's coaches and maintain continuity. Plus, he's from Pennsylvania, always an important consideration for the Rooney's.


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