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Recapping The Steelers Coaching Changes Since Mike Tomlin Arrived In Pittsburgh


On Saturday, it was reported that Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Kirby Wilson would not be back next season as he decided to take the same job with the Minnesota Vikings. Wilson now makes the 13th coach that has left or been fired since Mike Tomlin became head coach of the team in 2007.

Here now is a recap of all of the changes made to the coaching staff over the course of Tomlin’s tenure.

Tomlin kept his original staff together for three seasons before any changes were made. Following the 2009 season, however, offensive line coach Larry Zierlein and special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky were both fired. In addition to those two changes, quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson announced that he was retiring and defensive quality control coach Lou Spanos left to become the linebackers coach for the Washington Redskins.

Tomlin then hired Sean Kugler to be the new offensive line coach and Al Everest was brought on board to coach special teams. Randy Fichtner was promoted from wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach and Scottie Montgomery was hired to coach the wide receivers. Former Steelers linebacker Jerry Olsavsky was also hired to replace Spanos.

Following the 2010 season, defensive backs coach Ray Horton left to become the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals and former Steelers defensive back Carnell Lake was hired to take his place. It was the only change made to the coaching staff that offseason.

Following the 2011 season, it was announced that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was retiring, but in essence he was really fired. He was of course replaced by Todd Haley. In addition to that change, offensive quality control coach Harold Goodwin left to become the Indianapolis Colts offensive line coach and Shaun Sarrett was hired to take his place.

It appeared as though that was going to be all of the changes made heading into the 2012 season, but the team decided to part ways with Everest right before the season started. Special teams assistant Amos Jones then took over for Everest and the team decided not to hire an assistant to help him.

Following the 2012 season, Kugler left to become the head coach of the University of Texas-El Paso, his alma mater. Montgomery also returned to his alma mater of Duke University that offseason to serve as the program’s associate head coach and offensive/passing game coordinator. Jack Bicknell Jr. was hired to replace Kugler, while Richard Mann, who had been out of coaching for several seasons, was hired to replace Montgomery.

Those weren’t the only changes, however, as Jones left to become the Cardinals special teams coach and Danny Smith was then hired away from the Redskins to replace him.

That brings us to this offseason, where Bicknell was fired after just one season. Former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak was hired recently to take his place. With Wilson now gone, Tomlin will need to hire his second running backs coach since coming to Pittsburgh and that is expected to take place over the course of the next week or two.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • T R

    Thats to bad of change over right?

  • steeltown

    I have to say, from Lake to Mann, Haley to Munchak.. I respect most if not all of the recent decisions and hirings made

  • Brian Miller

    I respect all of the decisions, I question quite a few in the past, but now I finally feel like the decisions have us moving forward in a really positive way. I am stoked like everyone else about the Munchak signing, and I agree that this move is the best FA signing we could hope for. Now, if we can top it off with a good RB coach, I will really be excited for this next season!

  • RyanW

    Im actually loving the current staff. Hope the new RB coach is an awesome pick up as well. Really the only blunders were Bicknell and the last minute gaffe with Everest tho I am liking Smith better. Arians falls more on Ronney than Tomlin though Tomlin shouldn’t have said he expected him to be back lol but I like Haley better anywY

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Six members of Tomlin’s original coaching staff remain: Dick Lebeau, John Mitchell, Randy Fichtner, James Daniel, Keith Butler & Garrett Giemont (strength & conditioning).

  • Douglas Andrews

    Man I’m loving this coaching staff. There’s a lot of former players including Hall of Fame Coach Lebeau. I wished we could have kept Ray Horton around and the only Coach besides Bicknell i was glad to see go was Coach Montgomery. Didn’t seem to be the right fit to get through to the “young money crew”!

  • LayDownTheHammer

    Some good, some bad. I personally think Danny Smith is not helping this team because he clearly has a say in which players make the team (i.e. good ST players but not necessarily good positional players). It’s covering his own ass, but teamwise it is clearly not the best decision.

  • Bob Graff

    Hey Doug, It’s not like like we went out and hired a former front office members son who never even played football and was actually a golfer. Geez wouldn’t that be fool hardy. Are you people brain dead????

  • Douglas Andrews

    Brain dead? your kidding right……It’s a good staff with great coaching experience and former players. That’s enough for me to be excited about the up and coming season.

  • Christian

    You mean Cowher’s coaching staff.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Tomlin did keep most of the defensive staff – at the time many feared he would convert the defense to a 4-3 since that is what Tomlin had worked with before – very wisely he kept Lebeau and the 3-4. Tomlin was forced to replace almost all of the offensive and special teams.coaches since Whisenhut & Grimm went to Arizona to form Steelers-West..

  • PA2AK

    steeltown, I agree. Also, is it me, or do a lot of the hirings/firings/’retirements’ seem to point toward AR2 as being heavily involved? Maybe for good reason i guess, but I seem to think differently there. Maybe my history isn’t good, but staying true to the franchise history (once they got out of the way of their coaches and hired Noll) means hire the HC and let him do the rest (with the owner’s blessing). What I’m getting at is it only took, what 2-3 years for Cowher to bag the job once AR2 took over. Several of the hirings & ‘retirings’ seem to have AR2’s hand in the decision…and I mean he ultimately made the decision in spite of his coach. I could be giving Tomlin a free pass here, but I just don’t think he has been given the proper control of the team that a HC should have.

  • PA2AK

    ‘you mean Cowher’s this and Cowher’s that’…all garbage. Want to talk about Cowher’s team and Cowher’s coaches…how come no one wants to talk about Cowher’s 3 consecutive years missing the playoffs and two of those under .500?! How come no one wants to recall the days when Pittsburgh was getting pretty tired of the spitting chin that couldn’t get his team to win the games that mattered?!

    and for the record…i’m not a Cowher hater…let’s just put some things into perspective OK… no one talks about Cowher’s first 7 years as being really Noll’s teams. Can’t stand hearing that baseless filth.

  • steeltown

    It’s hard to say, it sure seems as if Tomlin is responsible for the hiring of coaches under him or atleast that’s what he makes it sound like when answering questions by the media

  • Christian

    I don’t deny that Cowher benefited from Noll’s decisions but after those 3 years missing the playoffs, the team was rebuilt. Albeit under the helm of Stewart, Maddox, but he still was able to turn around a team. Right now Tomlin faces that same thing. 2 years missing the playoffs, and see if his decisions can turn around the franchise.

  • PA2AK

    See, I can agree with that. I just think we have a solid coach and while Cowher’s (et. al.) decisions have been a benefit to Tomlin, some have also cost him. The same can be said for any coach. I think Tomlin’s record in today’s NFL speaks well for itself. What he managed to do with the adversity faced in the first half of the season is a big plus in my book. He deserves criticism for sure, but the whole ‘Cowher’s Team’ argument doesn’t hold much weight to me.

  • PA2AK

    Well when he’s in public or in front of the team, I sure hope he takes responsibility for them…I’d imagine he’d lose control of the team/job quickly. I mean the oddities (especially so) of Arians ‘retirement’ and the selection of a personality such as Haley. They just don’t seem to be his choices there…i could just be an AR2 conspiracy nut too though!

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