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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Odds on the new coach

Sorry I haven't blogged in a while, but between the holidays, th coaching search and everything else, it's been very busy. Also, much of my stuff in the paper about the coaching searchg is blog-type stuff anyway, so that's where the inside info has been appearing.

Bill Cowher hadn’t yet held his final press conference Friday to announce his resignation when I received an e-mail telling me the odds on who the next head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers would be.

But what does Vegas really know about it? Here’s a look at the leading candidates for the job and the odds I'm giving them to be the man to lead the Steelers for the next decade.

Russ Grimm (Odds, 2-1) The Steelers offensive line/assistant head coach has the respect of the players that only a player who has been a finalist for the Hall of Fame the past couple of year can command. They like him, they listen to him. Don’t underestimate that in this process. Grimm is also a native of nearby Scottdale and attended the University of Pittsburgh, so he has local ties as well. It’s a tough call between Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt at this point, but I’d give Grimm a slight lead.

Ken Whisenhunt (Odds, 5-2) Whisenhunt is an outstanding communicator and a good Xs and Os guy. Like Grimm, he also has the respect of the players, but he isn’t quite as fiery as Grimm. Interestingly enough, his candidacy for every other open coaching position - save Oakland - could hurt him in Pittsburgh. If Whisenhunt is offered a job elsewhere before the Steelers are ready to make a hire, he may take the sure thing rather than a maybe from the Steelers.

Ron Rivera (Odds, 5-1) Rivera is an up-and-comer, no doubt about it. And his background as an analyst for the Bears radio broadcasts before he got into coaching shows that he knows how to communicate. But is he the right man for this job? The Steelers likely don’t want to break up their current staff too much and Rivera most certainly would want to bring some of his own people in.

Mike Tomlin (Odds, 7-1) Tomlin, at 34, is likely the youngest person the Steelers will interview and is the same age Cowher was when he took over for Chuck Noll in 1992. But he’s only been a coordinator for one season, so he likely needs a little more time at his current post before he’s ready to step into the big chair. But you can bet the fact the Steelers interviewed him means that he’s viewed as a solid up-and-comer in NFL circles. He’ll be a head coach in the next three seasons barring a total meltdown in Minnesota.

Kirk Ferentz (Odds, 10-1) Ferentz has consistently said that he is not interested in the Steelers job and the Steelers won’t beg him to talk like Alabama did with Nick Saban. It’s unlikely Ferentz will ever be a viable candidate.

Cam Cameron (Odds, 12-1) The offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers has head coaching experience in college and has plenty of NFL experience as well. But he’d likely want to revamp the offense and that could create havoc with Ben Roethlisberger. But he'll be a hot candidate when the Chargers win this year's Super Bowl.

Field (Odds, 15-1) Chances are, the leading candidate is somebody the Steelers will speak to this week, with Grimm and Whisenhunt the obvious frontrunners. But somebody else could sneak into this pack and we’ll have to update our odds.

Bill Cowher (Odds, 1 million-1) What are the chances that Cowher has a change of heart and decides this week he made a mistake? None. And Cowher will never again work for the organization. He cut his ties when he resigned and what’s done is done.

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