It Would Appear Mike Tomlin is Unlikely to Take the USC Head Coaching Job

If you read between the lines here and listen very carefully, it seems as if Mike Tomlin doesn’t have a ton of interest in coaching at the college level. Hard to tell for sure, though:

Obviously I’m kidding. Tomlin absolutely flipped his lid at the mere suggestion of him coaching college football.

This is as emphatic and unambiguous a denial as you’re going to get from any coach with rumors “swirling” about them either taking another job or trading a player.

So often we hear these coaches go, “Look, I know there’s rumors, but I’m the coach here right now.”

Okay, but what about at the end of the season, coach.

“Hey, look, Tua Tagovailoa is our quarterback right now at this very second guys, come on. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

Okay, but what about in a week?

This is why Mike Tomlin is so great. He never bullshits you. He’s like the anti-Belichick. So many of these coaches have taken after Bill Belichick and act like they’re guarding the nuclear codes when they’re in front of the media.

They act like they’re undercover agents being interrogated by the KGB at the height of the Cold War.

Tomlin does not.

But he was very offended by the mere suggestion that he would consider coaching college football. Maybe he thinks its beneath him or something, and that suggesting he might coach college football is an attack on his coaching ability or something. I don’t know. But he took great offense to the question.

He added at the end, “Why don’t you ask Sean Payton or Andy Reid this kind of thing?” implying that he doesn’t get the same level of respect as those guys.

I don’t know about you, though, but I think it’s a compliment to Mike Tomlin that programs like USC would be interested in him.

I know he’ll obviously never do it, but I think he’d be a great college football coach. I think he’s a great NFL coach, but I think he would work great in college, too.

What recruit wouldn’t want to play for him? The dude has juice. He’s the fucking man. He would absolutely clean up on the recruiting trail. Everyone would want to play for him. He’s just a winner, too: he’s never had a losing season. And he’s got a Super Bowl ring, to top it all off. If he was the USC head coach he would pull in the #1 recruiting class every year–he’d be stealing 5-star recruits from Bama. That’s how good I think he’d be.

But he also has a fantastic gig in Pittsburgh, too. Being the head coach of the Steelers might be the best job in the league, quite honestly. It’s because of the Rooney family. Tomlin is only the third Steelers head coach since 1969. Think about that for a minute.

They had Chuck Noll from 1969-1992, then Bill Cowher from 1992-2006, and Tomlin from 2007 to present.

In a league where job security is virtually nonexistent, he is one of the few guys who actually has it. Belichick and Tomlin are probably the two most un-fireable coaches in the league at this point. Payton and Reid are up there too, along with John Harbaugh, Pete Carroll and McVay, but the Rooney family are the most loyal owners in the league. They stick with their guys. Tomlin will probably be able to coach there as long as he wants, and he obviously has no desire to go anywhere. Nor should he.

I get why he’d be upset at the idea he might leave the Steelers. It creates drama where there should be none. It creates a distraction for his team. And he’s justifiably annoyed by it.

But I kind of feel like it’s more of a sign of respect to him that USC would rather have him than Payton or Reid.

Personally, I don’t think Sean Payton would work as a college coach. It’s not to say he wouldn’t be able to recruit or anything, but Sean Payton is more of that offensive genius/mad scientists, Xs and Os guy, spending late nights watching film and cooking up plays, etc. That’s not really what coaching in college football is about; it’s more about recruiting, keeping the boosters happy, and motivating and mentoring your young players. Payton does not seem like a guy who would want to do any of that stuff. He just wants to coach.

And Andy Reid, although he is from Los Angeles originally, he’s 64. There’s no way he’d want to build up a college football program from the ground up at this stage of his life–or voluntarily leave Patrick Mahomes.

Probably Mike Tomlin would not like coaching in college, either. While by no means am I saying it’s “easy” to be an NFL head, the reality is you have to deal with a lot more bullshit as a college coach. And you make less money, on average (although I’m sure USC would offer Tomlin $10 million a year easily if he showed even a tiny bit of interest).

In college, you’re both the head coach and the GM of your team. Plus, you’re dealing with kids–and their parents, too, some of whom can be real pieces of work.

There’s a reason we hardly ever see NFL coaches move to the college ranks. The only guy I can think of that has done it recently is Jim Harbaugh.

In the NFL, you deal with adults (mostly) and professionals, and your job is simply to coach; not scout, not recruit, not make personnel decisions, not glad-hand with boosters, not worry about if your left guard is flunking Biology 101. Just coach.

The reason Mike Tomlin’s name got brought up for the USC job is because he’s such a great coach, not because people think he’d be better suited at the college level.

No serious person actually believes that, either.

But of all the great coaches in the NFL, I guess he seemed like the one who might possibly be “gettable,” at least compared to guys like Belichick (70 years old), Pete Carroll (also 70, also has coached USC and left amid a major scandal), Payton, Reid, Harbaugh, etc. Tomlin is the youngest of that group. He’s only 49. Harbaugh is 59, Payton is turning 58 in December–you get what I’m saying.

I don’t think it’s a slight to him or anything, though. He certainly took it that way, but I think it’s a sign of respect more than anything. He has freaking USC, one of the premier programs in college football, basically fantasizing about getting him as their head coach.

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