Steelers say they haven't hired a coach, despite SI report

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Steelers chairman Dan Rooney today denied a Sports Illustrated story that said the team had chosen Mike Tomlin as its head coach.

"There's nothing to that story on the wire," Mr. Rooney said of the account that appeared earlier today on SI.com.

Other sources, most unwilling to go on the record, also denied there was any truth to the story. Mr. Tomlin, the defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, denied it publicly.

"It is untrue," Mr. Tomlin told ESPN's Chris Mortensen. "I have no idea where it's coming from. I have not talked to the Rooneys today."

A source close to Russ Grimm said yesterday afternoon that he had heard nothing from the Steelers. Mr. Grimm, the team's offensive line coach and assistant head coach, is one of three finalists for the job.

The other is Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who was awaiting a second interview by the Steelers if Chicago loses in the NFC championship game tomorrow. If the Bears win, they would have to wait until Feb. 5 to talk to Mr. Rivera, 45.

Mr. Grimm, 47, could not be reached for comment but his brother Donn told the Post-Gazette from his home in Georgia that he had not talked to him today.

"I think I would have heard, if he knew anything,'' Donn Grimm said.

Michael Silver of SI.com wrote that the team would announce the hiring of Mr. Tomlin, 34, in the next two days.

Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said he read the SI.com report, but the team had nothing new to say about the search to replace Bill Cowher.

"We have heard all the rumors, and we have nothing to confirm at this point,'' Mr. Lockett said.

Asked whether the team had a news conference scheduled this weekend to announce that the search for a coach was over, Mr. Lockett said, "No, nothing planned, and we would certainly tell you and all the media if we did.''

Mr.Tomlin just finished his first year as defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. It is believed that he and Mr.Grimm are the frontrunners to replace Mr. Cowher. He resigned Jan. 5 after the Steelers ended the 2006 season with an 8-8 record, following a Super Bowl championship in February.

Mr. Cowher said he planned to spend more time with his family after coaching the Steelers for 15 years. His wife and youngest daughter moved to Raleigh, N.C., last year.

Staff writers Gene Collier and Tom Birdsong contributed to this report.



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