Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin is expected to be named head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday, a person with knowledge of the situation said today.
Tomlin emerged this weekend as the Steelers' choice to replace Bill Cowher, and negotiations on a four-year contract commenced today. Tomlin, 34, will become the NFL's sixth black head coach and also its youngest. His departure is a major blow to the Vikings, who saw their defense rise to the NFL's No. 8 overall ranking under Tomlin's tutelage.
The Vikings aren't commenting on the move today because the Steelers have made no official announcement. Earlier today, Pittsburgh spokesman Dave Lockett issued the following statement:
"At this point and time, the Steelers have not concluded a contract agreement with a new head coach, nor do we expect to do so today. There will be no other announcements from this office today.
"Enjoy Championship Sunday!"
This comes a day after reports across the nation differed about who the Steelers were about to hire.
While two Internet sites ran stories Saturday that Tomlin was the Steelers' choice, a Pittsburgh newspaper reported late in the day that Steelers assistant Russ Grimm had been offered and had accepted the position.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said in Sunday's editions that Grimm's hiring would be announced Monday. This came after a flurry of denials from the Tomlin camp and the Steelers following reports by Sports Illustrated and ESPN that Tomlin would be named Pittsburgh's third coach in 38 years. Tomlin, Grimm and Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera were the finalists for the job.
Both Tomlin and his agent, Brian Levy, denied Saturday the job had been offered. "It is untrue," Tomlin told ESPN earlier in the day. "I have no idea where it's coming from. I have not talked to the Rooneys [who own the Steelers] today." Steelers chairman Dan Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "There's nothing to that story."
Tomlin told Foxsports.com late Saturday that the Steelers wanted to sleep on their decision. "I hope I get it, but these stories are driving me crazy," Tomlin said. "It's just not true. And I really hope they don't have an effect on the final decision, whichever way they go."
Tomlin, who won't turn 35 until March 15, appeared a long shot for the Steelers job, having just completed his first season as a coordinator in the NFL. However, he was brought back for a second interview last week that lasted 3½ hours and reportedly impressed the team's brass with his organizational skills, intelligence and grasp of the game. A day later, Grimm interviewed for six hours. The Steelers offensive line coach since 2001 and assistant head coach for the past three years, Grimm has been considered by many to be the favorite for the job.
Rivera talked to the Steelers once but could not interview again until after the Bears' season is finished.