Steelers' Coach Search: Whisenhunt to interview with team, Tomlin next

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Russ Grimm is down, Ken Whisenhunt is at-bat today and on deck is Mike Tomlin as the Steelers speed through interviews to find the replacement for coach Bill Cowher.

And the deeper they go through the process, the more obvious it becomes that their next coach will come from within, either Grimm or Whisenhunt.

Grimm, their line coach and assistant head coach, became the second known coach to interview for the job when Steelers officials met with him yesterday at their offices in Heinz Field. Whisenhunt, their offensive coordinator, will interview today.

The Steelers already interviewed Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera in Chicago over the weekend. Tomorrow, Tomlin, who finished his first season as Minnesota's defensive coordinator, will be interviewed.

"I guess it went as well as could be expected," Grimm said. "I was comfortable with it. Now we'll just sit back and wait and see what happens."

No more interviews are known to be scheduled and it's possible the Steelers could have a new head coach by the weekend.

Grimm and Whisenhunt had been the front-runners for the job even before Cowher quit Friday and nothing has happened to change that.

Whisenhunt may have lost out on the head coaching job in his hometown of Atlanta when the Falcons hired Louisville coach Bobby Petrino yesterday. Whisenhunt, sources said, told the Falcons he wanted to wait to be interviewed by the Steelers and see what they would do before he could commit to another job. The Falcons either did not want to wait or were unwilling to have an appearance that they were settling for a second choice.

Grimm and Whisenhunt also are candidates for the Arizona Cardinals coaching job. Grimm will head to Arizona today. Whisenhunt also has been interviewed by the Miami Dolphins.

"I'll go out there tomorrow and see what they have to say and come back on Wednesday," Grimm said.

Rivera, who is Hispanic, and Tomlin, who is African-American, qualify as minority interviews, a requirement in the NFL under its Rooney Rule, put in place at the encouragement of Steelers chairman Dan Rooney. Rivera is not able to be hired until the Bears' playoff run ends.

NOTE -- The Steelers signed defensive end Shaun Nua and defensive tackle Scott Paxson. Nua, a seventh-round draft choice in 2005 from BYU, spent most of last season on the team's practice squad. Paxson, an undrafted rookie from Penn State, was waived after training camp but signed to the practice squad Dec. 12.


Ken Whisenhunt -- Falcons job no longer a factor.

Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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