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Will Whisenhunt Come Calling Again For Butler If He Lands A Head Coaching Job?


There are still a handful of teams looking for a new head coach right now and it appears as though San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt could wind up being hired by either the Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans or Cleveland Browns as he will have had interviewed with all three teams come Saturday, according to published reports. Should Whisenhunt indeed land a head coaching job again, you have to wonder if he will again be interested in hiring Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler to be his defensive coordinator.

Butler, who apparently is under contract with the Steelers through the 2014 season, is good friends with Whisenhunt, who was of course with the Steelers several years until Mike Tomlin was hired to suceeed Bill Cowher in 2007. When Whisenhunt was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he wanted to hire Butler in 2009 to be his defensive coordinator after Clancy Pendergast was fired, but the Steelers denied Butler permission to interview for the job.

After Whisenhunt fired defensive coordinator Bill Davis in 2011, Butler was reportedly again denied permission to interview with the Cardinals and instead, Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton, whose contract had expired, was hired.

It should be noted that Butler interviewed with the Miami Dolphins for their then-open defensive coordinator position in 2010, but he reportedly turned down the job and instead signed a new two-year contract to return to Pittsburgh. After that contract expired in 2012, Butler was scheduled to interview with the Indianapolis Colts, but reportedly decided to cancel it after meeting with Steelers president Art Rooney II. The Steelers were rumored to have given Butler a big raise and another two-year contract to stay.

So, will Butler be allowed to interview with Whisenhunt if he lands a job over the course of the next few weeks? It's hard to say, but I am willing to bet that permission will again be denied. The rule states that teams are indeed allowed block assistants under contract from interviewing with another team unless it is for a head coaching job.

We will have to see how this all plays out, but I guarantee you that Whisenhunt will at least ask for permission to interview Butler if he is indeed hired.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • srdan

    Being the class act that he is, would Dick retire if the Steelers were faced with losing Butler?

  • steeltown

    No. Stay away. Its perfect if you think about it, he’s signed as the LB Coach through 2014 which is exactly the year I think will be Lebeau’s last.

  • Matt Manzo

    Seems like he should? Doesn’t seem fair to keep making Butler wait! And I really wanna see what Butler can do with defense! What not give Lebeau some sort of consultant role?

  • Shea Fahr

    If Butler does join Whiz, good for him. We still have viable candidates in house for the future like Mitchell, Lake ect. I hope the Steelers do not deny Butler the interview. In the meantime, Dick should run this Defense until he is ready to go Golfing full-time.

  • Shea Fahr

    I agree with you but at the same time, I would not force Dick out to keep Butler.

  • Ike Evans

    If I had any confidence in Tomlin’s ability to hire good assistant coaches then I would say let him go. However, I dont so you have to keep him even.though woodley and timmons have both regressed, jarvis didnt add any new rush techniques AND butler just has a negative aura about him.

  • srdan

    Keep in mind when you mention the 3 players you did ( I disagree on your assessment) that is very recent. You conveniently left out Worldis if we want to only discuss this era. Butler has been around since 2003, and converted an UFA castoff into a defensive MVP.

  • RyanW

    Timmons regressed? Hes been arguably the best and most consistent player on D the last few seasons. He is constantly being asked to help in coverage on top pf occasionally rushing and stopping the run. He doesnt get sent in on a ton of blitzes so hes not going to have staggering sack numbers. Hes constantly in the top 3 of players with tackles. Hes by far the most under appreciated defensive player of his era.

  • steeltown

    What’s with all of the Timmons hate..you’re the second person today that I’ve seen badmouthing him.. so, 126tackles, 6PDs, 3sacks, 2INTs and FF isn’t good enough? crazy talk

  • Patrick Reid

    Timmons regressed?

  • srdan

    He played every snap this season on defense. I don’t understand the regress comment either.

  • srdan

    I was the other you may be thinking of. I wasn’t badmouthing him, but simply pointing out that some players have a nose for the ball, others don’t. I like tim and think he is a good player, but he is not on Polumalus play making ability level. But not many are.

  • dgh57

    I guarantee you had it been Timmons out for the year instead of Foote you would be changing your tune real quick like! I hope we never have to find out what it’s like missing him either.

  • Ike Evans

    One guy

  • Ike Evans

    Didnt say he sucked….hes had better years tho….u can go look at ur numbers and see that

  • srdan

    Since 03, when Butler joined, there have been 4 linebackers to get DMVP. Three of them were 1st round picks.

  • Ike Evans

    Hes missed more assignments and tackles this year then i ever remember seeing…still great but hes been better like i sais

  • Ike Evans

    2010 was his best year….only other year comparable to that is 2013 and even this yr he was incinsistent….missing tackles…missing assignments….ive seen better from him on tape

  • John A Stewart

    I remember this year Lake made a comment and said that Dick system was not hard to understand it was all about coaching. And last year Keith Butler made a comment that made me vey nervous he said he hate rookies trust me he didn’t want Jarvis to start all summer Butler said good thing’s and bad about Jarvis understandable also I think the Rooney’s force Tomlin and coaching staff to play their younger guy’s more. I would really really love to have coach Lake to be the Steeler next defensive coach. For the record if Tomlin can be a defensive coach for the Viking’s and I know damn well Lake would do a better job the Standard is the Standard.

  • dgh57

    Numbers only tell half the story as Troy didn’t look to good at times because he was playing out of his normal position. Same with Timmons he had to make up for 2 rookies playing next to him.

  • RyanW

    Dude everybody has missed assignments and tackles. When your the best and most consistent player on the defense (which Timmons is and was all season) is having to play out of position and trying to cover up others mistakes hes not gonna be perfect not by a mile.

  • joed32

    I’m not a big Butler fan either for that same reason.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Hmm. From this story I get the a sense that the Steelers FO has a personal beef with Wisenhunt. I mean why else would they deny Butler the chance to interview with him twice and allow him to interview with other teams?

    Personally I think Butler has the DC position in Pitt locked up and is just bidding his time until Lebeau retires. Which, from the way his current contract is structured could well be in 2014. I highly doubt he goes anywhere even for the Wiz.

  • Sdale

    I agree that he did miss and was out of position more, but that might have been more a function of him thinking he had to “do too much” because other players hadn’t been doing their job. I think that happened to a few players this year.

    However, I still think it took too long to develop him. Foote and Farrior, during the last few years of Farriors career, were getting beat right and left.

    I realize this is, in part, a function of Lebeau’s complex schemes, but if he’s going to be the next DC, he will be responsible for getting all the players up to speed quickly. In my opinion, he hasn’t done a good job of that consistently

  • Sdale

    I don’t think they have anything against Whiz. I just think they were faced with the very real possibility of losing both Butler and Horton, and that would have been a pretty big deal to replace coaching on 2 levels of your defense. I also think they want him to be the next DC, so they want to keep him.

  • John A Stewart

    You mean one coach Horton was terrible.

  • Steve

    If Timmons regressed, what happen to Ike and Clark? Did they die or just show up for the game?

  • Jazz

    The logical thing to do is make Keith Butler the Defensive Coordinator, keep LeBeau on as an advisor to Butler. It is time for Butler to get his hands wet, incorporate some of his ideas. The Steelers will eventually lose Butler to a Head Coaching Position, it is inevitable.

  • Jollyrob68

    I would. Then again maybe Tomlin likes Carnell Lake better.

  • Jollyrob68

    If whiz calls Butlers leaving. He’s tired of waiting and I can’t blame him. Past Due.

  • Jollyrob68

    Every year the wonder if Mitchell is going to retire but I like the idea of Carnel Lake or bringing back Ray Horton. Although Tomlin didn’t seem to like Horton.

  • AndyR34

    How do you knw he’s tired of waiting? Did you talk to him recently?

  • steeltown

    They gave him a hefty raise this last time to stay through ’14 with what I assume is assurance that he will take over as the Steelers DC following the great Lebeau,… time will tell, but not sure he has any reason to leave

  • Sdale

    Hehe, yeah I wasn’t sad to see him go and Lake has been fantastic. He has done a pretty good job in AZ though.

  • John A Stewart

    Bruce Ariens let him go now he’s with Browns

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