Watching, waiting

Lolley: Was this waiting game all part of the Steelers' plan?

With Ken Whisenhunt signing on the dotted line in Arizona Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers coaching situation got a little more clouded.

Or did it?

Maybe, just maybe, this is what Steelers' brass was waiting for.

The Steelers have been slow in their process of hiring a new coach to replace Bill Cowher, who resigned after 15 years with the team a week and a half ago. But that's what everyone expected anyway.

Unlike other teams, who may make a knee-jerk reaction on a hiring, the Steelers aren't prone to those kind of decisions. When they hire a coach, they consider the long-term ramifications because they treat hiring a head coach much like a marriage. They don't have to last a lifetime, but there are going to be ups and downs that the team will go through because they aren't going to look for a divorce at the first sign of trouble.

When Cowher resigned, Whisenhunt was widely viewed as a front-runner, along with offensive line coach/assistant head coach Russ Grimm, to replace him. Until Sunday, nothing had changed that view.

But perhaps, and this is purely speculation at this point, the Steelers couldn't make a decision between Whisenhunt and Grimm. Maybe they liked both men equally.

Whisenhunt and Grimm were believed to be willing to keep the other man on staff if they were named head coach. It sounds good in theory. But in reality it's kind of like keeping your old girlfriend on speed dial after you've put the ring on somebody else's finger. There are bound to be some hard feelings.

Now, the Steelers don't have to worry about that.

With Whisenhunt now the head coach in Arizona, they don't have to worry about his feelings being hurt if Grimm were elevated ahead of him, just like they no longer have to worry about how Grimm would have responded had Whisenhunt been named head coach instead of him.

Perhaps the Steelers knew that they could live with either Whisenhunt or Grimm as their head coach but didn't think Whisenhunt and Grimm could co-exist on the same staff if one of them was passed over. And they didn't want to fire either one of them. So they just let things play out.

We'll likely find out in a few days.


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