On the Steelers: No tears shed for Todd Graham
The embarrassment, pain and anger the people at Pitt are feeling isn't shared by those who share the building and indoor practice field on the South Side with them.
The Steelers practically threw a party when they heard that Pitt coach Todd Graham quit. That goes from the top to the bottom, from those who work in the offices to the coaches and every-day workers who came into contact with Graham and his staff in the building.
They described Graham as an arrogant man who had no use for anything the Steelers might have offered, and they say he resented having to share the building and the indoor practice field at the UPMC complex with them.
Before Graham, the Panthers and the Steelers ate in the same cafeteria, although at different times. Graham came in and put an end to that. The cooks at the cafeteria still prepare the food for the Panthers, but it is then brought over to the other side of the building, where Pitt created its own cafeteria to serve Graham's players and his wishes.
Instead of embracing the advantages that an association with the Steelers might bring, Graham rejected them, even if there was little he could do about the shared facilities. That really came down to just sharing the indoor practice field and the parking lots because everything else is separate, including weight rooms, outdoor practice fields, locker rooms, etc. It's one building, but it's really two, like a big duplex.
Now here's a suggestion for Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson as he searches for his next football coach: Knock on the door next door at that South Side duplex and ask the Rooneys how they do it. Pederson has done wonderful things for Pitt but when it comes to hiring football coaches, he has a poor track record.
The Steelers have the best record in the NFL at hiring coaches. They've had three over the past 43 seasons. All won Super Bowls -- six total -- and eight AFC championships. They have the best record in the NFL since the 1970 merger with the AFL -- a .612 winning percentage, the only team over .600.
Art Rooney II (his father Dan has returned home from Ireland for Christmas, so they could pay him a visit too) probably would be more than happy to share his insights with Pederson and/or other Pitt officials. While they were at it, Pederson might even think of asking Rooney if he had anyone on his current coaching staff who might make a good candidate.
Hiring a head coach can't be as difficult as Pitt has made it out to be, especially since they've had so much practice. The school's next hire will be its sixth head coach [including one-game interim coaches] in one year's time. Talk about high octane.
Don't know how much this is done anymore with all the video and readily available statistical information throughout the NFL, but Baltimore coach John Harbaugh has admitted he passed on information to San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh as his brother's 49ers prepare to play the Steelers Monday night.
Bill Cowher of the Steelers and his mentor Marty Schottenheimer of the Chiefs did that sort of thing all the time, and it's been done by others as well.
It's not illegal or immoral, but what truly can be gained and what would, say, Jim Harbaugh want to know about the Steelers that he already couldn't see on video of them?
"I don't know," said Bruce Arians, the Steelers offensive coordinator. "Guys have tried it in the past, tried to help each other out. You've got your football team, you're coached a certain way, you're not going to change your style just because of another team.
"He may have some, what he thinks are tendencies in certain areas, special teams. It's probably more knowledge in personnel than in schemes. I'll tell him, 'Mike Wallace is fast!'"
Casey Hampton said he will not watch today's game between the Ravens and Chargers in San Diego, and really has no interest in it, even though a Ravens loss could open the doors for the Steelers to win the AFC North Division and earn a bye into the second week of the playoffs.
"My interest is in beating the 49ers," Hampton said. "You know how that goes. If you get interested in that, then they lose and you get all excited and then you go out and get your [fanny] kicked.
"It doesn't even matter. You have to worry about winning out. At the end of the day, we lost to them twice. If they win out and win the division, we can't be mad because we did it to ourselves. That's how I look at it."
While the league definitely doles out more fines than ever, there's been a sense by many that officials also are tossing more flags on the Steelers. That is not the case. In fact, there may be fewer penalties called.
Going back through some years to the early 1980s, roughly the same number of penalties were called against the Steelers with the over-under being about 100. Last season, the Steelers had 100 called against them. In 1999, it was 119, one year after there were only 79. In 1983, it was 99. So it's up and down but roughly 100 as the median.
However, when they played a 14-game scheduled through the 1977 season, they were called for 122 in 1977 and 111 in 1976.
This may put the cart ahead of the horse, but if things stay as they are, the Steelers would open the playoffs on the first weekend at Denver. And safety Ryan Clark said he would want to play in Denver if that's the case. However, he said it will be Mike Tomlin's call.
Clark has the sickle cell trait and his blood had a violent reaction to the altitude in Denver in 2007. He lost his spleen and gall bladder and nearly died. He's been told by doctors that he should be OK now because he no longer has those organs. In 2009, Tomlin made the decision for him and would not allow him to play. However, Clark made the trip and worked out before the game to try to test his body and there was no reaction.
First Published December 18, 2011 12:00 am