The Pittsburgh Steelers may have given a hint toward which way their are leaning in their search for a new head coach when they denied a request by the Arizona Cardinals to interview a pair of their assistant coaches.
The Cardinals asked for permission to speak to wide receivers coach Bruce Arians, linebackers coach Keith Butler and special teams coach Kevin Spencer, but the Steelers only gave permission for Arizona to speak to Spencer about joining new coach Ken Whisenhunt's staff.
Whisenhunt, the Steelers' offensive coordinator the past three seasons, had been among the favorites to replace Cowher before being hired by Arizona Sunday. One of the Steelers' fears about him taking a job elsewhere was that he would try to raid the team's staff.
All of the current Steelers assistants are under contract with the team through the end of the 2007 season but team president Art Rooney II said he would give a new head coach permission to make whatever staff changes he deems necessary.
That could point to the Steelers naming offensive line/assistant head coach Russ Grimm to replace Bill Cowher as head coach since Grimm would favor naming Arians his offensive coordinator.
Grimm is one of three finalists for the job along with Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Grimm and Tomlin had second interviews earlier this week, but the Steelers cannot speak to Rivera again until the Bears are finished with their season. Chicago hosts New Orleans in this weekend's NFC Championship.
Cowher resigned as Steelers head coach two weeks ago after 15 seasons with the team.
With the probable loss of Spencer to the Cardinals, the Steelers would have four current openings on their staff: special teams, running backs, offensive coordinator and head coach.
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.