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Putting the Bill Cowher vs. Mike Tomlin debate to bed

Since 2007, when Bill Cowher retired and Mike Tomlin was hired, there has been a great deal of disdain for the new coach, and a longing for the old.

NFL: AFC Divisional-Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

One of the worst things about running a website dedicated to a fan base like the Pittsburgh Steelers is how ugly things can get at times. On the internet, there is very little accountability. You can say whatever you want, regardless of how ignorant, with little to no repercussions to your actions.

I should take this time to mention the large majority of the fan base does not fall into this category. Rather, they fall into the category of level-headed and respectful fans when it pertains to their favorite NFL football team.

However, despite the facts, which many choose to ignore, the one debate which simply won’t go away is Bill Cowher vs. Mike Tomlin. It’s beyond me why people constantly debate the value of two coaches who both brought Lombardi trophies to the Steel City, but people love to dive into this particular silly debate.

Therefore, I felt it was the appropriate time to put this to bed once and for all, or at least until the commenters hijack the comment section and it turns south in a hurry.

Most who argue Cowher over Tomlin love to point to stats. The only problem is that Tomlin has only been coaching for 10 seasons. So, let’s take a look at the two coaches after their first 10 seasons at the helm of the black and gold.

Bill Cowher
99-61 Regular Season Record
6-7 Playoff Record
6 Divisional Championships
1 Super Bowl Appearance

Mike Tomlin
102-57 Regular Season Record
6-5 Playoff Record
5 Divisional Chamionships
2 Super Bowl Appearances
1 Lombardi Trophy

Just take a look at those numbers, and they are eerily similar. For the stat geeks out there, it is hard to come to any conclusion on the better, or worse, coach based solely on their statistics after their first 10 years as a head coach for Pittsburgh.

If statistics don’t end the debate, then what exactly can be focused on to somehow get an end result to this head-to-head matchup? Many will point to Tomlin’s time management, although Cowher was no genius in this category either. Others will point to Tomlin’s inability to defeat lesser opponents, yet I recall several duds by Bill Cowher-led Steelers teams.

You can see where I am going with this, and there is no real end result in sight. Then how does this all end?

It doesn’t.

What needs to happen is that fans need to realize just how valuable these two coaches are/have been to the organization. Everyone knows there have only been three head coaches since 1969, and that is a fact which should be cherished, not debated.

Just look at the statistics above for both coaches. Take your time and really take in the amount of success these two men have achieved in their first decade of being an NFL head coach. Now go look at a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars or Cleveland Browns and try to find a coach who has lasted even 10 seasons, let alone seen the success which these two coaches have provided for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While many of you reading this article thought you were going to see a concrete answer to this debate, I apologize. There is no answer, only a suggestion. The next time someone brings up the Cowher vs. Tomlin debate, simply remember it is okay for both coaches to be great. It is okay for both coaches to have their own niche in the team’s history. It is okay for both coaches to have their strengths, and weaknesses. And it is okay to have an affection for both as men who led the Steelers to a great deal of success.

Bill Cowher coached the Steelers for 15 great years, and Tomlin is entering his 11th season. Be happy your favorite team values consistency and continuity at the position of head coach. After all, there doesn’t always have to be a right and wrong in this debate, it is okay to just say you are proud to be a fan of the Steelers, regardless who is at the helm.