The Pittsburgh Steelers have two games remaining in the 2021 regular season, both AFC North contests, but the team has been undergoing some transition among their coaching ranks earlier than expected.
As was reported just days ago, the University of Oregon was interested in Steelers’ offensive coordinator Adrian Klemm. Rumors swirled Klemm would finish out the season with the Steelers, and then jettison for Oregon where he would be the run game coordinator, offensive line coach and an assistant coach for the Ducks. What ended up happening was the Steelers telling Klemm he has their blessing to just leave now, rather than waiting.
Most fans wanted to know why the Steelers made this decision, and Mike Tomlin spoke about it during Tuesday press conference, and here is what he said:
“We released a statement yesterday regarding Adrian Klemm and his departure to go to Oregon. Let me start by saying I’m so appreciative of his efforts. The landscape that is coaching is changing each and every year. We see it; decisions are being made earlier in the processes. Colleges, the processes are happening faster, people are making hires and so forth.
“The financial component in our business is making college football much more competitive. So, we’re all getting faced with challenges that we really weren’t faced with in the past. We made the decision; I made the decision to allow Klemm to move on to Oregon. It provides tremendous clarity for us as we zero in on the last component of this season.
“It also gives me an opportunity to evaluate C-Mo[Chris Morgan], who will get an opportunity to be elevated in his role. C-Mo is very credible. He was a lead line coach of the Atlanta Falcons for a number of years before he got here. He’s also had the unique perspective of being in a support capacity throughout the 2021 season but also having an intimate enough relationship with what’s going on among the staff and among the players. I’m really excited about his elevation and the component that it could bring to us.
“Also, I think the move also eliminates the potential of any questions regarding distractions and so forth and let me be clear. I had no reservations about Klemm’s commitment and his willingness to work in detail, but it’s the potential perception that you want to combat, whether it’s inside or outside. We want to eliminate any potential questions that may occur in that regard, even before they develop.”
While that detailed answer might suffice for some, there were follow up questions about the situation, and one such question was whether Tomlin knew, and spoke, to Klemm about his departure prior to the Steelers releasing him of his contract.
“He and I have been in conversation dating back to last week or so regarding the potential of that. He did an awesome job of being professional and communicating. But at the same time, he also displayed unwavering commitment, so I didn’t have any concerns as it pertains to Adrian.
“It’s really as I outlined. I think it’s a real good opportunity for me to gain some exposure and the potential of C-Mo because he’ll be a candidate for the job, and what better way to see what he’s capable of than to allow him to do the job for the remaining portions of the season. I wanted to potentially alleviate any questions, whether inside or outside, about whether we’re circling the wagons, and everybody is zeroed in on this opportunity, and again, I’ll state I had no reservations about that, and that’s why I said perceptions.”
Tomlin’s answers, sometimes a long and winding road, might be the answer some fans wanted to hear regarding Klemm’s odd departure, but unless some other reports surface no one will truly know the entire story behind the situation. Was Klemm on the chopping block and got ahead of the firing? Did Oregon throw a ton of money at Klemm which lured him away? We may never know, but the Steelers now get a head start of finding a new offensive line coach. First up? Chris Morgan. The challenge is can he retain the position?
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football in Week 17.