Rewind yourself back to January of 2007, and many in Steelers Nation were pretty uncertain about some guy named Mike Tomlin who was just named the 16th head coach of the Steelers. Fast forward through three division titles, two conference titles, one Super Bowl win and two SB appearances (oh and one Coach of the Year) later, and Tomlin is about as much as synonymous with the Steelers as the Rooney family is.
ESPN, this afternoon, released their Power Rankings for NFL coaches. Tomlin placed second only to Patriots’ Bill Belichick who won unanimously out of eight casted votes. Ok fine. I guess I can respect that. If we are looking at the ‘Power’ of a coach, Belichick certainly is a force to reckon with. The Pats are always a team difficult to play against, and that is certainly in big part to how Belichick coaches and prepares his team week in and week out. But I find it hard to rank him #1 these days. So in what context is this Power Ranking based off of? Try to answer that and it gets even more confusing…. and will tick you off even more.
If you look closely (ok maybe it’s pretty obvious) you’ll see that there is two outstanding differences with Tomlin’s tallies. John Clayton put Tomlin in at #5. Who did he put in front of Tomlin – someone like Tom Coughlin. Excuse me for a moment while I burst out laughing…. Coughlin?! He ranks in the top 3 for Power coaches? We’re talking about the same hapless New York Giants right? So it’s obvious that the recent lockout has messed with Clayton and short circuited a chip in his brain.
Next, NFC West blogger Mike Sando put Tomlin down as 6th. This is even more ridiculous. He also put Coughlin down as #3 ahead of Tomlin. I must put this guy into some context. This dude is a huge Seahawks fan, and we all know what that means – whiny about SB 40. Seahawk fans have had a huge chip on their shoulder since they lost to the Steelers in that Super Bowl, and Mike Sando, I’m sure, is at the top of the list as a hater. There is no way this guy would put any Steeler in the top 5 for any Power Ranking. Here is Sando’s reasoning for his voting:
"I favored coaches that walked into tough situations, won relatively quickly and then sustained the improvement over more than one season. Tomlin took over a healthy operation and kept it going. He deserves credit for that — I ranked him sixth — but not as much credit as if he had produced similar results after taking over a struggling franchise."
So wait, Tomlin walked into a favorable situation. Um, ok, sort of true. So what about Belichick? He’s been coach for the Pats since 2000. That’s 10 solid seasons. So when does Sando’s criteria stop becoming a factor? Also if you really were basing your ranks off this, then wouldn’t you have put someone like Sean Payton ahead of someone like, oh I don’t know, Andy Reid? Payton led a very poorly structured organization and took them to an unlikely Super Bowl. They were a bit up and down this past season but still playoff material. Mike Sando is now officially up for a Darwin Award.
So it’s apparent that the voting system for this is pretty flawed. There’s no clear criteria as to what it means to be a Power Ranked coach and there’s favoritism (or unfavoritism in the case of Sando). But, Tomlin comes away with #2, and I would actually agree with that. Have Tomlin beat Belichick and the Pats on the football field, and I’ll scream from the mountain tops that Tomlin should be #1. Until that happens, I think he’ll be stuck behind Captain Spygate.