Skin Patrol recently composed two diaries that addressed the future of Bill Cowher as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007. One of the Post-Gazette's Steelers' beat-writers was on ESPN radio this morning, and he too commented on Cowher's future. He basically said he was confident that this year would be Cowher's last in Pittsburgh.
When asked why he thought this, he first explained how Cowher was the longest-tenured coach in the NFL despite the fact he hadn't even turned 50 years old. His basic point was that perhaps Cowher had overstayed his welcome in Pittsburgh and had lost his ability to connect with this particular group of players. He explained how Cowher formed a 'leadership committee' of 7 players during the season. The group was in charge of motivating the team, giving the speeches that fired everybody up...basically all the stuff the COACH ought to be doing effectively. Coach Cowher was succesful leading the Steelers to the top of the mountain, but now that they were there, he's been having a hard time reaching them in the same way.
First of all, I don't think Cowher has done a terrible job this year. I do think he's made some mistakes and lacked some of the fire that Steeler fans have grown accustomed to, but let's face it, if we don't turn the ball over at such an alarming rate this year, we're in a playoff race and focusing on football, not the coach's future.
I do think it must be difficult coaching a team that has already had their hands on the ultimate prize, the Lombardi Trophy. There must be some sort of letdown. I'm no psychology expert, but I do believe that part of the fun is in the chase--it's easy to get motivated if you're trying to accomplish something that you've never done. Once you're there, that's it, you've reached the zenith of success. I've got to believe it's hard to replicate the motivation that got you to the top the following year.
If Cowher were to return next year, I think he would once again return to form and do a far better job coaching this solid core of players. We have issues to address of both sides of the ball, but I still think Bill Cowher is the best man for this job.