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Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin
File:Mike Tomlin.jpg
Tomlin coaching a regular season Steelers home game in 2007
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Pittsburgh Steelers
Personal information
Date of birth (1972-03-15) March 15, 1972 (age 43)
Place of birth Hampton, Virginia, U.S.
Career information
College William & Mary
Career highlights
Awards 2008 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year
Head coaching record
Regular season 82–46 (.641)
Postseason 5–4 (.556)
Career record 87–50 (.635)
Super Bowl wins 2002 Super Bowl XXXVII
(As an assistant)
2008 Super Bowl XLIII
Championships won AFC (2008, 2010)
Coaching stats Pro Football Reference
Team(s) as a coach/administrator
1995 VMI
(wide receivers coach)
1996 Memphis
(graduate assistant)
1997 Arkansas State
(wide receivers coach)
1998 Arkansas State
(defensive backs coach)
1999–2000 Cincinnati
(defensive backs coach)
20012005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(defensive backs coach)
2006 Minnesota Vikings
(defensive coordinator)
2007–present Pittsburgh Steelers
(head coach)

Michael Pettaway "Mike" Tomlin (born March 15, 1972) is the current head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the American Football Conference, succeeding Bill Cowher. Tomlin is the third youngest head coach in any of the four major North American professional sports. He is the tenth African-American head coach in NFL history, and first in Steelers history. With the Steelers' victory in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009, Tomlin became the youngest head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory.

High school and college

Tomlin attended Denbigh High School in Newport News, Virginia and was a three-year player as a wide receiver/tight end for the College of William and Mary, where he became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He finished his career with a school-record 20 touchdown catches. He was a second-team All-Yankee Conference selection in 1994. Tomlin never played professional football.

Coaching career


Tomlin's coaching career began in 1995 as the wide receiver coach at Virginia Military Institute under former West Virginia University head coach Bill Stewart. He spent the 1996 season as a graduate assistant at the University of Memphis, where he worked with the defensive backs and special teams. Following a brief stint on the University of Tennessee at Martin's coaching staff, Tomlin was hired by Arkansas State University in 1997 to coach its defensive backs. Tomlin stayed there for two seasons, before being hired as defensive backs coach by the University of Cincinnati. All of Tomlin's coaching jobs at the college level were for NCAA Division I teams.[citation needed]

National Football League

Assistant coach

Tomlin was hired as the defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001, where he first learned the Tampa 2 defense that he would use in later coaching jobs.[1]

In 2002 and 2005, the Buccaneers led the NFL in total defense (fewest yards allowed per game)—during Tomlin's tenure, the defense never ranked worse than sixth overall. When the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003, the team recorded five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Tomlin was selected by Vikings' head coach Brad Childress to be his defensive coordinator in 2006.[2][3]

Two of the players on the Vikings were older than Tomlin, and Tomlin had been a teammate of Vikings' safety Darren Sharper at William and Mary. The 2006 Vikings finished with the NFL's eighth-best overall defense, but had the unusual distinction of finishing as the top-ranked defense against the run,[4] and the worst-ranked defense against the pass.[5]

Head coach

File:First Tomlin in Victory Parade.jpg
Tomlin in the victory parade after winning Super Bowl XLIII.

Tomlin became the sixteenth Steelers head coach on January 22, 2007, when he was hired to replace Bill Cowher, who retired after spending 15 years with the team. Tomlin had also interviewed for the head coaching vacancy with the Miami Dolphins, which eventually was given to Cam Cameron.[citation needed]

With Tomlin, the Steelers continued a trend of hiring head coaches in their 30s. The others were Cowher (age 34 in 1992), Chuck Noll (38 in 1969), Bill Austin (38 in 1966), John Michelosen (32 in 1948), Jim Leonard (35 in 1945), Aldo Donelli (33 in 1941) Walt Kiesling (35 in 1939), Johnny "Blood" McNally (33 in 1937) and Joe Bach (36 in 1935).[citation needed]

Tomlin is the 10th African-American head coach in NFL history and the first in Steelers franchise history. Steelers owner Dan Rooney has served as the head of the NFL's diversity committee and proposed the Rooney Rule, requiring that teams interview minority candidates when selecting a head coach. Although Tomlin's ascension to an NFL head coaching job has been cited as evidence of the rule working as intended,[6] Rooney himself disputes this, as he had already interviewed a minority candidate prior to interviewing Tomlin.[7]

Terms of Tomlin's contract were not officially released. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported a four-year deal paying $2.5 million per year, with an option for a fifth year. He is the teams's third consecutive head coach to win his first game, and the first in team history to win his first game against the rival Cleveland Browns.[citation needed]

In contrast to Bill Cowher, who only retained longtime running backs coach Dick Hoak from Chuck Noll's staff (Hoak himself retired just before Cowher's resignation), Tomlin did retain many of Cowher's assistants, most notably defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau despite his contrasting defensive philosophy with Tomlin. This was done in order to keep team chemistry with the players, since the team was only one year removed from a Super Bowl win at the time of Tomlin's hiring. The Steelers finished Tomlin's first season as head coach with the top-ranked defense in the NFL.[8] Tomlin led the Steelers to the 2007 AFC North Division championship and a 10–6 record in his first year as head coach. The Steelers lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 31–29. Tomlin began his career with a 15–7 record in regular season play—as did his predecessor Cowher and all-time win-leader Don Shula.[9] Tomlin set a Steelers record for most wins, after winning 22 games in his first two seasons as head coach; in addition he became the first Steelers coach to win division titles in his first two seasons.[10]

When the Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 AFC Championship Game, Mike Tomlin became the youngest NFL head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl. He also became the third African-American to coach a team to the Super Bowl, following Chicago's Lovie Smith and Indianapolis' Tony Dungy, the two opposing coaches in Super Bowl XLI. After two seasons, with a record of 22-10, he was the winningest head coach in Steelers history based on a win percentage (68.8%).[citation needed]

On January 29, 2009, Tomlin was named the 2008 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year.[11] On February 1, 2009, at age 36, Tomlin became the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl when his Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, beating the previous record held by Jon Gruden, who was 39 when he won Super Bowl XXXVII.[12]

On July 13, 2010, Tomlin signed a three-year contract extension with the Steelers. In the 2010, he coached the Steelers to a 12-4 record. Tomlin would lead them to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years. In Super Bowl XLV the Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers 31-25.[13]

On November 13, 2011, Tomlin won his 50th game as the Steelers head coach with a 24–17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Of the team's 16 head coaches, Tomlin was the fourth to reach this milestone. On July 24, 2012, Tomlin received a three-year contract extension through the 2016 season.[14] The financial terms were not disclosed.

In the 2012–2013 season, the Steelers finished 8–8 after struggling with injuries to QB Ben Roethlisberger and the offensive line and adjusting to the system of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.[15] It was the second time that the Steelers failed to make the playoffs under Tomlin's tenure as head coach.

Facing the Baltimore Ravens on November 28, 2013 in a primetime Thanksgiving Day game with major playoff implications, Tomlin became the subject of controversy when video replay showed him possibly interfering with a play. With his team trailing, 13–7, in the third quarter, Tomlin stood just off the field along the visiting team's sideline as Baltimore's Jacoby Jones broke free on a kickoff return for a potential game breaking touchdown.[16] Tomlin, with his back to the approaching play, appeared to glance over his shoulder then place his foot briefly onto the field as he jumped out of the way, causing Jones to veer inside where he was tackled. Several Ravens players claimed Tomlin had intentionally interfered with Jones; if officials had agreed, a touchdown could have been awarded to the Ravens based on the Palpably unfair act. However, no penalty was called for interference or for Tomlin standing in the white border area reserved for the officiating crew. Tomlin's action, whether it was deemed intentional or not, was widely criticized in the media. Following the game, Tomlin defended himself, stating he had simply wandered too close to the field while watching the play on a Jumbotron, a mistake he said coaches often make.[17] The league subsequently announced it was investigating the matter, with the potential of a heavy fine and forfeited draft pick.[16] On December 4, 2013 the NFL announced that they had fined Tomlin $100,000, and hinted it is considering stripping the Steelers of one or more draft picks because his actions affected the play on the field.[18] The $100,000 fine is tied for the second-highest for a coach in NFL history, and is also tied for the highest for a coach who does not also have the powers of general manager. Then-Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Tice was fined $100,000 in 2005 for scalping Super Bowl tickets.[citation needed]


Michael Pettaway Tomlin was born in Hampton, Virginia, the younger of two sons; his brother, Eddie, is three and a half years older. Their father, Ed Tomlin, played football at Hampton Institute in the 1960s and was drafted by the Baltimore Colts. However, Tomlin hardly knew his birth father and was raised by his mother and stepfather.[19] He later played for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. The elder Tomlin died in January 2012 from an apparent heart attack in Ocala, Florida, at the age of 63.[20] Tomlin's mother, Julia, married Leslie Copeland, a supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service, in 1980.[citation needed]

Tomlin met his wife, Kiya Winston, while they were students at The College of William & Mary, where Tomlin majored in biology.[21] He graduated in 1995. They have three children: sons Michael Dean, born in 2000, and Mason, born in 2002; and a daughter, Harlyn Quinn, born in 2006.[22][23] Tomlin resides with his family in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh and attends the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.[24][25]

Tomlin is a spring 1991 initiate of the Eta Omega chapter at Old Dominion University and charter member of the Xi Theta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, The College of William & Mary.

Tomlin is popularly known for a resemblance to actor Omar Epps.[24] This resemblance was referenced on an episode of the TV series House in November 2009 in Episode 8 of Season 6, "Ignorance is Bliss", when House mentions feeling like Mike Tomlin because of having his team back, but probably not as much as Foreman (Epps' character).[26]

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
PIT 2007 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Wild Card Game
PIT 2008 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC North 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XLIII Champions
PIT 2009 9 7 0 .533 3rd in AFC North
PIT 2010 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC North 2 1 .667 Lost to Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV
PIT 2011 12 4 0 .750 2nd in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Wild Card Game
PIT 2012 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC North
PIT 2013 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC North
PIT 2014 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC North 0 1 0 Lost to Baltimore Ravens in AFC Wild Card Game
Total[27] 82 46 0 .641 5 4 .556

Coaching tree

NFL head coaches under whom Mike Tomlin has served:
Head Coach Team Capacity Year(s)
Tony Dungy Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach 2001
Jon Gruden Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach 20022005
Brad Childress Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator 2006

References and notes

  1. ^ Smith, Michael (2005-12-28). "'Simple' scheme nets big gains for trio of defenses". 
  2. ^ Krawczynski, Jon (2008-08-22). "Steelers coach Tomlin made strong impression in MN". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  3. ^ Harris, John (2008-08-23). "Steelers coach, Vikings safety share history". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  4. ^ "2006 regular season defensive rushing stats". Archived from the original on 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  5. ^ "2006 regular season defensive passing stats". Archived from the original on 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  6. ^ "Tomlin proof NFL's Rooney Rule is working as intended". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved 2007-09-15. 
  7. ^ Tomlin adapts well to players but leaves no doubt who's in charge, Newsday, February 1, 2009.

    The Rooney Rule dictates that for all head-coaching openings, each team must interview at least one minority candidate. But here's what's interesting: The coach who might be the Rooney Rule's greatest advertisement didn't benefit from it. "Let me say this: Mike Tomlin was not part of the Rooney Rule," Rooney said. "We had already interviewed Ron Rivera [then the Bears' defensive coordinator], and so that fulfilled the obligation," Rooney said. "We went on, had heard about Mike, called him in and talked to him. He was very impressive."

  8. ^ "Steelers finish with top defense". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  9. ^ Collier, Gene (2008-10-19). "Tomlin's early career looking an awful lot like Cowher's". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  10. ^ Bouchette, Ed (15 December 2008). "Steelers Notebook: Game ends with some spit and a shove". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 15, 2008. 
  11. ^ Steelers' Tomlin named NFL Coach of the Year
  12. ^ "Steelers win 6th Super Bowl in thrilling fashion". February 2, 2009. 
  13. ^ Bouchette, Ed (July 13, 2012). "Steelers' Tomlin receives contract extension". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  14. ^ Bouchette, Ed (July 24, 2012). "Steelers sign Tomlin to three-year extension". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  15. ^ Graves, Will (December 31, 2012). "Steelers bracing for changes after 8-8 season". )
  16. ^ a b La Canfora, Jason. "Mike Tomlin, Steelers facing fine, possible loss of draft pick". CBS Sports. Retrieved December 3, 2013. 
  17. ^ Florio, Mike (November 29, 2013). "Tomlin says "I lost my placement" while watching return on Jumbotron". NBC Sports. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Mike Tomlin Fined $100k for Interfence During Jacoby Jones Kickoff Return". 
  19. ^ Finder, Chuck (July 22, 2006). "Mike Tomlin: A man of his words (first of two parts)". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on August 9, 2007. 
  20. ^ Medina, Carlos E.; Austin L. Miller (January 17, 2012). "Former Marion County NAACP president Ed Tomlin dies at 63". The Gainesville Sun. Archived from the original on January 23, 2012. Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  21. ^ Pesola, Eric W. (2007). "Pittsburgh's New Man of Steel". William and Mary Alumni Association. Retrieved 2009-01-20. 
  22. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers". Pittsburgh Steelers. 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-20. 
  23. ^ New Pittsburgh Courier, Feb. 14, 2007
  24. ^ a b "Steelers' Tomlin earns sexy honor". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 2008. Retrieved 2011-01-26. 
  25. ^ "Mike Tomlin, Steelers head coach, talks about his faith",
  26. ^ House Finally Acknowledges the Resemblance Between Foreman and Mike Tomlin
  27. ^ Mike Tomlin Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks –


External links

Preceded by
Ted Cottrell
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Leslie Frazier
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Sidney Crosby
Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year
Succeeded by
Evgeni Malkin

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