Published: Saturday, January 6, 2007
Search begins for new coach
It's only the second time since 1969 Pittsburgh has had to look for one.
PITTSBURGH (AP) His was the best known jaw in the NFL, a jutting block of granite that perfectly reflected his toughness and passion for winning.
What no one seemed to know about Bill Cowher was that finally winning the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers not only calmed his competitiveness, but sent him off on a football sabbatical with a look he rarely flashed before: a smile of satisfaction.
Cowher resigned Friday after 15 seasons as the Steelers' coach, a job he probably could have held for life or, at least, for as long as the 23 years predecessor Chuck Noll held it. The Steelers immediately began searching for a new coach for only the second time since 1969, a span when other NFL teams have had as many as 15 coaches.
Two assistants to interview
Team president Art Rooney II said Steelers assistants Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm are among the candidates. Both are interviewing for some of the other four current NFL job openings, with Whisenhunt already talking to the Falcons and Cardinals.
One word noticeably absent during Cowher's farewell to the Steelers was retirement he said it makes him sound old. He is only 49, an age when some head coaches are only being hired, and he didn't deny he might want to coach again someday. Maybe soon.
For now, the man Steelers chairman Dan Rooney calls "one of the great head coaches" plans to spend time with his family at their new home in Raleigh, N.C., where his wife, Kaye, and youngest daughter, Lindsay, relocated last summer.
"I'm not burned out," Cowher said. "There comes a time in your life I'm healthy and happy, and I've been fortunate you've got to prioritize things. My family has made a lot of sacrifices for me, and I'm looking forward to being there for them. It's the right time."
That means Cowher and his wife will be attending a lot of basketball games in the next few months since daughters Meagan and Lauren play at Princeton.
Fourth among current coaches
Cowher's 161-99-1 record ranks him fourth among current-era coaches in career wins. He won a Super Bowl last season after six trips to the AFC championship game and took the Steelers to the playoffs 10 times, with star players like Rod Woodson, Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, Dermontti Dawson and Levon Kirkland. Cowher's competitiveness, ability to get the maximum from his players and his motivational skills seemed a perfect fit for a franchise that has long prided itself on being tough, resilient and committed to success.
The question is, if the Steelers had been willing to pay more money, would their relationship with Cowher have lasted longer?
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