Steelers running backs coach candidates list should include Willie Parker

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Pittsburgh has hired position coaches with just a little experience previously. What Willie Parker may lose in a lack of pro coaching experience he can make up with a well-versed history of Steelers culture.

Tucked away in the middle of Nowhere, West Virginia sits West Virginia Wesleyan - a small Division II school with an enrollment of 1,400 students.

The Bobcats aren't exactly a pipeline to the pros. None of their players will attend the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and none were invited to play in the Senior Bowl. It has produced two Hall of Famers, though - Earle "Greasy" Neale of the Philadelphia Eagles and Cliff Battles of the Washington Redskins.

If it's famous for anything right now in the football world, it's the final collegiate destination of Nate Montana, the son of the Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.

And, on the coaching staff, the record holder for the longest run in a Super Bowl, former Steelers running back Willie Parker.

He joined Jonas Jackson's staff in 2012, along with former NFL players Anthony Thomas and Eric Brock, and stayed on when Jackson left after that season. George Shehl - who was on the staff at The Citadel for the first half of Cortez Allen's collegiate career - did not retain him, but if nothing else, Experience may not be completely on Fast Willie's side. But that's relative to the kind of experience one might be inclined to consider. He obviously wouldn't be a battle-tested NFL position coach. He's pretty much the polar opposite of Steelers legend Dick Hoak - the man former Steelers RBs coach Kirby Wilson replaced in 2007 - in that regard. But there's something to be said about the combination of a coach with at least some experience, as well as a firm foothold in the history of the team.

Parker needs only to flash his two Super Bowl rings, or page open the Steelers rushing record book if he wished to establish credibility. He certainly has more of that than Scottie Montgomery did - he coached for four years at Duke before Steelers coach Mike Tomlin brought him on to replace Randy Fichtner, who was moved to quarterbackd coach upon the retirement of Ken Anderson.

Whatever Parker lacked in comparison to Montgomery from an experience standpoint, he makes up in familiarity with the culture of the team, not to mention direct experience with Tomlin. This is the same coach who famously said "we're gonna ride him until the wheels come off."

Those wheels did fall off, but they thought enough of Parker to bring him back in the 2013 training camp to help coach the running backs.

Le'Veon Bell, the star pupil of the next running backs coach, even went out of his way to mention his appreciation of Parker's assistance during that training camp.

These aren't hard-and-fast reasons to hire Parker as the next Steelers' running backs coach. But it's silly to ignore the fact, whatever it is that happened between Wilson and the Steelers, they let an experienced coach ship out to Minnesota in a lateral move. Because of that, it's hard to dismiss the Division II coach who was thrown a bone last year in Pittsburgh's training camp.

Maybe it was a tryout, much like the one Parker had as an undrafted rookie in 2004. Maybe he passed, and made himself a candidate for this position.

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