Okay, so it's Tomlin. The original report was correct. From what I can gather, the Rooneys didn't want the hiring news to make it to press until Monday, which was why we saw the denials coming from the Steeler front office all weekend.
Sad news for Russ Grimm, but I'm personally more pleased with the Tomlin hiring than I would have been with Grimm. To get to know Mike Tomlin a little better, I turned to SB Nation's Minnesota Vikings blog, Daily Norseman. Author 'Gonzo' was kind enough to fill me in on all things Tomlin.
PB, Behind the Steel Curtain: What, in your estimation, is Mike Tomlin's greatest strength as a coach?
Gonzo, Daily Norseman: I think his biggest strength is the fact that he pays a great deal of attention to details. In the short time he's been in Minnesota, he's already known for meticulous pre-game planning. Another is the fire and enthusiasm he brings to the table. I can't recall any time this season (with the possible exception of the season finale) where his players weren't fired up and ready to play, and I think that's a direct reflection of their coach.
PB: And his most significant weakness?
Daily Norseman: I'd definitely have to say his in-game adjustment skills, or a lack thereof. While he had his unit ready to play at the beginning of every game, there would be times when he'd just fail to adjust to what the opposing offense was doing. The biggest example of this I can think of was this year's game with New England, where the Pats kept spreading the field and throwing all over the place, and Tomlin didn't change a whole lot of things. But, I'm sure that will come with experience.
PB: Tomlin's awfully young - any concerns on your part that he's not quite ready for a head coaching job?
Daily Norseman: None at all. He was easily the best member of the Vikings' coaching staff this season, and he's got all the necessary tools to be a success in Pittsburgh. Remember, even though Tomlin is "only" 34. . .when Bill Cowher took over the Steelers, he was "only" 35. Heck, Chuck Noll was "only" 37 when he became the Steelers' head coach, too.
But no. . .there's absolutely nothing that makes me think that he's not ready for this position.
PB: Were players fond of working for Tomlin?
Daily Norseman: It certainly appeared as though they were, yes. There were a few players, particularly LB E.J. Henderson, that played markedly better under Tomlin than they had under other Viking defensive coordinators in the recent past. In 2005, the Vikings' defense was 21st in the NFL in terms of yardage under Ted Cottrell. . .this year, under Tomlin, they were 8th. The energy level that the defense had under Tomlin was unlike anything I had seen from a Minnesota defense since Tony Dungy left town. Not being in the locker room myself or anything, I can't give you a definitive answer, but the on-field performance certainly appears to bear that out.
PB: Anything else you'd add about Tomlin?
Daily Norseman: All I can say is that I think the Steelers are getting a damn fine head coach. The one thing I'm interested to see is how Pittsburgh's current defensive personnel, which is built for a 3-4 defense, seemingly (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that, as I'm not as well versed as the ins and outs of the Steelers' roster as you are) will adjust to the "Tampa 2" scheme that Tomlin is so fond of. . .or if Tomlin will adjust HIS line of thinking, or hire a defensive coordinator that will keep the 3-4 in place. There might be a few more hiccups if Tomlin is insistent on keeping the "Tampa 2" scheme in place, but overall I think the Steelers have made a great choice.
PB: You've hit the million dollar question. Will Pittsburgh move away from the 3-4 defense? My gut says no way. I'd wager Tomlin's never hired without him agreeing that he'll be looking to keep things similar to the way they are now.
In any case, thanks for chatting, Gonzo. We appreciate the notes.