As the Coach Turns

As the coaching situation becomes more and more unstable for the Steelers, it would be easy for head coach Bill Cowher to forget the task at hand - rebuilding this football team.

But with a defensive coordinator and wide receivers coach already gone, and his offensive coordinator and now offensive line coach interviewing for head coaching positions, it would be understandable if Cowher is a little preoccupied at this point.

Cowher finds himself in a pretty tough situation. If offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is hired for one of the handful of head coaching positions he's interviewed for, Cowher will not only have to find a replacement for Tim Lewis, his top defensive assistant who was fired last week, but for his top offensive assistant, also.

The problem is that he might have one less candidate from his staff to choose from once the time comes as the Chicago Bears have received permission from the Steelers to interview offensive line coach Russ Grimm for their vacant head coaching position.

It's doubtful that Grimm will be hired as a head coach since this is his first shot at that position and he's never been a coordinator before, but it could also force Cowher's hand down the road. Should Mularkey go elsewhere, Cowher may have to elevate Grimm to replace him or risk losing Grimm at the end of next season to someone looking for a coordinator.

Defensively, meanwhile, since the Steelers are intent on interviewing minority candidates to replace Lewis, they are sitting on the sidelines watching while Ted Cottrell works his way around to interviewing for their position in the coming week.

Through all of this, the task of fixing the problems of a 6-10 football team have been pushed to the back burner, at least by Cowher.

Cowher has to strike quickly and decisively with his hires or risk being stuck with another Ray Sherman situation, when he settled for hiring Sherman as offensive coordinator to replace Chan Gailey because all of the other good candidates were already gone.

That situation wasn't Cowher's fault, Gailey's hiring as head coach by the Cowboys was a surprisingly late happening in 1998.

But Cowher should have learned a lesson from that fiasco: He who hires last, hires worst.

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