Arians might not come back

If he does not return, Tomlin would be forced into first hunt for a coordinator


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Mike Tomlin has not had to worry about hiring an offensive or defensive coordinator since he became head coach in 2007. Now, that might change.

Tomlin could be facing his first significant hire since replacing Bill Cowher because offensive coordinator Bruce Arians might not return in 2012, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has learned. Arians, 57, is in the final year of his contract with the Steelers, and it is unclear if he is retiring -- something he considered last year -- or not having his contract renewed.

Arians has been the offensive coordinator since Tomlin inherited him and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau five years ago. Arians was told last week by Tomlin that he would return in 2012, and Tomlin indicated that in a news conference one day after the Steelers' playoff loss in Denver.

Team president Art Rooney II indicated Tuesday, however, that some members of the coaching staff were considering retirement.

Arians considered retiring after the 2010 season because of health problems and other issues. He skipped the NFL combine in February while he mulled his decision.

Unlike some of the Steelers assistant coaches, Arians was not going to attend Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile, Ala., next week. But that is because quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is taking him and his wife to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Roethlisberger, named a backup to Tom Brady for the AFC team, also is taking his position coach, Randy Fichtner, and his wife to Hawaii.

Arians has been with the Steelers since 2004, spending his first three seasons as a wide receiver coach when Ken Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator. He helped install the passing game that the Steelers use to this day. Two years ago, the Steelers considered a change in offensive coordinators, but Arians was retained with the help of support from Roethlisberger.

Since Arians became the coordinator, the Steelers have played in two Super Bowls, winning one. This season, the offense had two 1,000-yard receivers, a 4,000-yard quarterback and four members selected to the Pro Bowl. The offense, however, ranked 21st in points scored -- a point Rooney emphasized in his state of the Steelers summation.


First Published January 19, 2012 5:00 AM


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