According to the Associated Press, Cowher called Steelers chairman Dan Rooney Thursday afternoon to tell him he'd made up his mind and the Steelers then scheduled today's press conference.
In spite of numerous reports linking him to other NFL openings, Cowher's also expected to announce his intention of staying out of coaching in 2007. Cowher has already moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where his wife Kaye and daughter Lindsay have lived since the start of the school year. If Cowher changes his mind and decides to coach another team in 2007, that team would owe the Steelers compensation, likely in the form of draft picks.
The leading candidates to replace Cowher are assistant head coach Russ Grimm and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
Whisenhunt, with his passing-game background and experience as a play-caller, might be considered a natural replacement for the Steelers and young quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but many in the organization favor Grimm because of his lofty position in the team's game-planning process and his command of the team while making halftime adjustments.
Grimm, sources say, is respected by the players as a leader and respected by the front office for his four Super Bowl rings. Grimm won three Super Bowls and played in five NFC Championship games as an offensive lineman for 11 years with the Washington Redskins. He also started for a Pitt team that went 22-2 his junior and senior seasons.
"His brother even played on a national championship team," a source said with a laugh.
Grimm's younger brother Donnie Grimm started for the 1988 Notre Dame national championship team.
Russ Grimm will turn 48 on May 2. The Scottdale native has been the Steelers' offensive line coach since 2001 and assistant head coach since 2004.
Whisenhunt, who'll turn 45 on Feb. 28, was in Atlanta yesterday interviewing for the Falcons' head coaching job. He's an Atlanta native and graduate of Georgia Tech, where he finished his career second on the school's all-time receiving yardage list. He was drafted by the Falcons and played tight end and H-back from 1985-88 under coach Don Henning.
Whisenhunt also played with Grimm in Washington where they learned offensive football from Joe Gibbs. Whisenhunt has often credited Henning and Gibbs with shaping his offensive philosophy that revolves around the power running game.
Whisenhunt joined the Steelers in 2001 as the tight ends coach and became offensive coordinator in 2004.
The Steelers will also look outside the organization in a search that's expected to end within two weeks. President Art Rooney II will announce a decision after consulting with his father, Dan Rooney, as well as director of operations Kevin Colbert.
NOTE – The Steelers moved the following six practice-squad players on to their Reserve/Future roster: TE Jon Dekker, RB Carey Davis, OT Brandon Torrey, LB Ron Stanley, WR Walter Young, and DB Mike Lorello.