Tomlin introduced as Steelers' coach

Mike Tomlin was introduced as the new coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 34-year-old follows in the recent tradition of defensive-minded coaches taking the reigns at a young age. Here's the transcript of his press conference:

ART ROONEY II

Good afternoon. We're excited today to announce that Mike Tomlin will be the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I want to welcome Mike and his wife Kiya to Pittsburgh. Pretty soon we'll be welcoming their three children here and look forward to getting to know them and having them become part of the Steeler family.

Before I introduce Mike, I want to thank all of the people who participated in our process, particularly Ron Rivera and Russ Grimm. It's a long process and a lot of probing, and patience is required. Obviously, I also want to thank Mike, Coach Brad Childress and all the people up at the Vikings who again were very patient with the process in allowing us access to Mike and kind of putting their lives in a holding pattern while we were going through the process so we appreciate that.

Mike Tomlin is first and foremost a good person. That is the first test that you have to pass, and Mike certainly passed that test with flying colors. I think in addition to that Mike's core values are a good match for our organization. Mike wants to play the kind of football that has been the kind of football that the Pittsburgh Steelers have played and he will bring that approach, I think, to our team. And I think he'll play the kind of football that Steelers fans have come to appreciate through the years. Without further ado, I'm very pleased to introduce the next coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin.

MIKE TOMLIN

Good afternoon. I think first and foremost my wife and I would like to give honor and thanks to God for opening this door for our family, bringing us to this great city of Pittsburgh. Without a doubt, we'd like to thank the Rooney family for having an interest in us and allowing me to take part in this process and naming me head coach.

It's a great honor to be a part of one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports. We've come to grips with what that means, but we're having fun. We intend to make no bold predictions about what we're going to do. What we are going to do is promise to have a first-class, blue collar work ethic in how we approach our business.

Anything surprise you about the interview process?

Nothing really surprised me about the process, I think just because I was personally prepared for anything. It was parts unknown, if you will. That's the way I approached it and really I wasn't too much surprised by anything.

Do you feel any extra pressure because of the success this team has had recently?

No. There's pressure, we all feel a little pressure in this business. That's part of the reason why we do what we do. We embrace that, I embrace that and look forward to meeting those challenges.

What are you thoughts on Tony Dungy?

We don't have enough time for me to talk about how I feel about Coach Dungy. But I'm very happy for him and Lovie Smith and what transpired yesterday; two deserving men. My relationship and respect and admiration for coach Dungy goes beyond football. He's a life mentor for me, and I'll just leave it at that.

There's a report you will keep Dick LeBeau. Is that true, and what about the other assistant coaches here?

I will confirm that, but in terms about talking about other assistants I don't want to get too far down the line in terms of discussing that. I think it's going to take some discussion and planning from a lot of people. But, yes, anybody in this business knows and has a great deal of respect for Coach LeBeau and I look forward to having the opportunity to work with him.

LeBeau runs the zone blitz and you run the 4-3 cove- 2, how do you plan to make that work?

I think part of good coaching is doing what your guys do and what they do well. We'll maximize what they're capable of doing, and if that means sitting some personal preferences and beliefs schematically aside, I'm willing to do that. Xs and Os can be overrated at times. You'll find that we will be fundamentalist in our approach and we'll put guys in position to execute and execute at a high level. So whatever they're capable of doing, that's what we'll do.

More on Lebeau:

I really think you just look at your personnel and what they do well and what puts them in position to win, and obviously retaining Coach LeBeau is a big part of that.

What kind of offense would you like to see?

A fundamentalist football team that wins by attrition, that's mentally and physically tough. Of course, there's no secret in the National Football League, in order to win you have to stop the run and you have to run the ball effectively. To be general, that's what our football team will be about.

This organization has a history of being patient with coaches. Was that part of your intrigue?

I'm not a very patient person. I don't know anybody that's successful in this business, from a coaching standpoint, that's very patient. I'm working on it. But that's exciting. To have an opportunity to have a place where your kids can grow up and call home, particularly a place like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is awesome.

Are you as calm as you appear? Do you find this situation overwhelming?

I always slow it down because I don't want to miss something. I like to take moments like these in. I'm truly blessed to be here. I know this is not my plan; this is God's plan. So I find comfort in that.

What do you like about this team?

That they are physically and mentally tough. They have a reputation for being that. Got some quality players; their resume speaks for themselves. And I'm sure the recent Super Bowl success and failure that followed will make them a hungry group of men.

Most of the players on the team are not that much younger than you. How are you going to gain their respect?

I don't think it will take them long to realize that my goals as a coach are no different than any other coach they've ever had. I think mutual respect is required. I've got a job to do from a coaching standpoint; they've got a job to do from a player's standpoint. My age is my age. I've never had a problem with men. When I broke into the league I coached John Lynch. John is older than me. I don't anticipate it being a problem, and really more than anything I just look forward to getting to know the men and moving forward.

Two African-American men just qualified for the Super Bowl and another African-American was named coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Could you comment on that?

I acknowledge that it is significant. I'm just happy for those men because I know them personally. They've been very supportive and active in my development as a coach and as a man. I'm happy for them because I know them. I guess we'll make true advances in this business when it's no longer an issue, and I know that Coach Dungy has said that on several occasions. I think on a personal level I'm just happy for those men because I know what kind of men they are. I know what kind of coaches they are. I know how they approach their jobs and they deserve what they get from this point.

What influence has your brother been during this process?

My brother is my big brother. Everyone that has one understands what that's about. He was a measuring stick for everything that I did athletically. He drove me in just about every way. We've always had that relationship and I'm happy that he can feel a part of that. He should feel a part of that. Some of my toughest battles were in my backyard and that's the way it should be.

How were your wife and children involved in this process and how excited are they?

That's how we make decisions. We make decisions as a family. Our children are probably too young right now to be actively involved in some of those things. My wife and I, we talk quite a bit and we talk about not only what's good for us, what's good for me professionally, but what's good for our children. I think that's the number one job that we have here. We know what living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's about for a family.

Was the interview process confusing, considering this weekend's reports?

Not confusing for me. The Rooneys were very upfront about the process – where it was going and how it was going. At times I thought some of the reports, the false reports, were comical. It wasn't necessarily funny when they weren't going in my favor, but, you know, it's part of the process. I understand that. Really, the two men competing yesterday and what happened in the NFL this weekend was a nice diversion for us. We sat in the basement and cheered for Coach Dungy and Coach Smith.

What is your demeanor like on the sideline?

I probably couldn't answer that. You've probably got to ask those that are around me. I don't pay attention to those around me. I don't pay attention to how I behave. I just try to be myself. I can be emotional at times I guess but for the most part I tend to lean on the side of being calm because I like to think clearly at times like that.

What do you think of being 34 years old, when as a coach not that young?

Every day I go to work I look to learn. I've been blessed enough to be around some great coaches and some great strategists, some great leaders of men. I feel like I learned a lot from all those people, but at the same time I realize that I have to be myself. I am who I am as a coach. I don't characterize it as a 34-year-old coach or a 34-year-old coach with experience. I'm just a football coach.

Are you comfortable with all the scrutiny that will follow you?

I guess I have some sense of that but you know it comes with the territory and that's okay.

How did you get the news?

I was standing in my basement watching the football game and Art Rooney called. Needless to say I took the call and was very excited; tried not to show him. It was a great family time. We were in the basement with our three children watching football like a lot of families on Sunday at this time of year. It was awesome.

So it happened yesterday afternoon?

Yes.

In regards to the coaching staff, do you know any of the current Steelers' coaches and have you spoken to them?

Yes I do know a few of the guys on staff. Coaching itself is a big fraternity and I have a great mutual respect for guys through competition and conferences and things of that nature. I just think right now it would be best if I didn't touch on staffing at this time. That will sort itself out over the next few days.

What is your overall thought about Pittsburgh and what do you know about the city?

I came to this city when I was about 12 to play in a little league football game. I rode the inclines and those things. Some of my roommates from college were Pittsburgh guys -- Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon -- so I know quite a bit about the attitude of people from the city and the great deal of pride that they have from being from here. I look forward to learning more.

You had not heard anything from the Rooneys Saturday, they didn't contact you until Sunday?

Yes.

What is your schedule now? Will you go to Mobile, Alabama to look at coaches?

Yes. And there are some players down there as well. I think that's job one. Coaches are overrated. You have good players, you have a chance. We'll fly to Mobile tomorrow morning to just get rolling with the process.

Will you interview coaches there though?

I'll talk to some coaches, yes.

What are your thoughts on Ben Roethlisberger and how do you plan to use him?

He's a franchise quarterback. Like any other position and any other player on this team, we need to be fundamentalists in how we approach our business. We need to be students of the game. I look forward to working with Ben in that regard. I'm excited about having an opportunity to work with a young man who is talented who has also had some of the life experiences of being a professional athlete that he has had. He's a world champion.

How much control will you have over personnel, bringing in guys, cutting the roster?

We'll detail some of those things as we go down the line. The one thing that turned me on about this organization is that it's a collective effort with how we do things. Nothing is heaped upon one specific person. I look forward to working with Kevin (Colbert) on personnel matters and I'm excited about that. I really am.

As it relates to Kevin specifically, do you find yourself aligned with him philosophically not only as you look at players now, but on down the line as well?

I think that we will collectively grow as we work together. I think our core beliefs when it comes to football are very similar. Some of those things will be addressed as we find a comfort level working together.

How does a wide receiver in college develop an attitude that he likes to run the ball and coach defense?

I wasn't a very good wide receiver obviously. No, playing personality and coaching personality are two different things. I've learned that over time. That happens to be my coaching personality.

Have any players called you yet? Have you called any players yet and when will you meet with the team?

I haven't spoken with any players, I'm sure that will happen over the next couple of days.

The fact that you have a young franchise quarterback, will continuity be a factor with whom you select with your offensive staff so that Ben will have some continuity?

Continuity is a factor. It's not the only factor. We're looking for good men who happen to be good coaches.

Your ascension speaks well of your abilities. There might be fans out there who are concerned that you only have one year as a coordinator at the NFL level. I know you've spoken about your age, can you speak about that?

I can't worry about concerns that other people might have. I've been hired to do a job here and I intend to do it at a high level.

Back in 2002, you had Ronde Barber and John Lynch make the Pro Bowl. Can you do that same thing here?

I think that's just hardware that you earn along the way as you compete for a championship. That has to be our goal: To put consistently winning football teams on the field and compete for a championship on a year-in year-out basis. Things like division championships and Pro Bowls, that's just hardware you pick up along the way.

You mentioned scouting and having current players do what they do best. But in scouting, will you scout for 3-4 or 4-3 players?

I think, and again, I'm not avoiding the questions, but as coaches, we have to be flexible to do what our guys do well. I think that if we say that this is our personality and this is all we're looking for as a player, then we might miss out on someone that has special skills. It is going to be a blending of both if we're going to have a chance to be consistently good over a long period of time.

Then you could foresee using a 3-4 front and a 4-3 front in the same game?

Sure, why not?

For a long time there was that trophy case in there with four trophies in it. That kind of hung over this franchise for a long time. As you walk by that case now, is there pressure to put a sixth one in there?

I just walked by it one day. It's just purely motivation. I guess all you want as a coach is to be part of something special. It's obvious what has been done here has been special. You want to be a part of that legacy, that history. I'm honored to be here and I look forward to pursuing those goals.

Do expect to contend for a Super Bowl next year?

I think it's our goal to contend for it every year.

You called coach Dungy a life mentor and a lot of us have known Coach Dungy for a lot of years – you've even used a couple of coach Dungy's phrases in this press conference. Is it a stretch to say that the Steelers are getting a coach Dungy-like coach?

No. I'm not going to give myself that much credit. Coach Dungy is Coach Dungy. He's meant a lot to me, but at the same time, I've got to be myself.

For the skeptics, why should they feel good about Mike Tomlin being the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers?

I promise that I'm going to blue collar on how I approach this. I will work truly hard and we will work smart.

Have you spoken with Russ Grimm?

I have not.

Do you plan to do that?

I'm sure I will.

Your qualifications speak for themselves. But would you have gotten this job if not for the Rooney Rule?

I personally can't answer that. Speaking to the Rooney Rule, I think it's a positive thing. It gives people an opportunity to present themselves, their ideas, their visions. The decisions that people make after that are based on who they think is capable of doing the job. I think it's been an awesome experience and it helped open the door for me that may not have been opened had it not been for the rule. But I think once you get into the competition phase of it and you're competing for work, men like the Rooneys want to win and they want to hire men who give them the best chance to do that.

Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin. Have you thought about that?

No, I try not to. I'm somewhat of a football historian. I've got a great deal of respect for those who came before me. I'm going to try my best to provide a shoulder for those who come after me to stand on.

Have you traced your tree all the way back?

Yes.

Do you know who sits at the top?

Yes.

Who sits at the top?

Of my tree? It just depends on which tree you're talking about.

When you go back, it's Dungy, Noll, Paul Brown, Jock Sutherland, Pop Warner. You're five degrees removed from Pop Warner.

We're reaching now.

How old are your kids and do they understand that dad's the coach of the Steelers?

I have a six-year-old son, Michael Dean. I have a five-year-old son, Mason. I have an eight-month-old daughter, Harlyn Quinn. They understand that daddy's got a new job. They couldn't understand the first time they saw reports on TV and they saw the Pittsburgh symbol behind my head. They thought I was a traitor. They understood it about as well as a five and six-year-old probably are capable of. The funny thing is that it is what's normal to them. It's all that they know. So from that standpoint, it's not anything awkward.


Steel City Insider Top Stories