Steelers: No head coach hired yet

Rooney refutes report that Tomlin has been tapped for job

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Amid conflicting reports that the Steelers have chosen either Mike Tomlin or Russ Grimm as their next head coach, team spokesman Dave Lockett issued a statement this morning that cleared up little.

"At this point and time, the Steelers have not concluded a contract agreement with a new head coach, nor do we expect to do so today. There will be no other announcements from this office today."

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

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

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

"It is untrue," 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 Grimm said yesterday afternoon that Grimm had heard nothing from the Steelers. 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 today. If the Bears win, they would have to wait until Feb. 5 to talk to Rivera, 45.

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

"I think I would have heard, if he knew anything."

Michael Silver of SI.com wrote that the team would announce the hiring of 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," Lockett said.

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

Tomlin, 34, just finished his first year as defensive coordinator for the Vikings. It is believed that he and Grimm, 47, are the front-runners to replace Cowher.

Cowher resigned Jan. 5 after the Steelers ended the 2006 season with an 8-8 record, following a Super Bowl championship in February.

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.

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Gene Collier and Tom Birdsong contributed to this report. Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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