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Tomlin Should Win NFL Coach of Year

January 22, 2011
By DOUG HUFF, Sports Columnist

MIKE TOMLIN.

Is there a better choice for National Football League Coach of the Year than the leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers?

I don't have a vote in the selection but it's going to take some convincing from other quarters for me not to favor the youthful mentor of the team seeking a Super Bowl berth against the New York Jets on Sunday.

When this subject is raised, I always recall the most successful coach in Steelers history, CHUCK NOLL.

After a 1-13 first-year record in 1969, and three straight losing seasons to start his Steelers tenure, Noll continued to build the football dynasty which has been continued under Tomlin and his predecessor, BILL COWHER.

Winning games, AFC titles and Super Bowls became so expected for the Noll-coached Steelers that he was never selected as the NFL Coach of the Year.

But Coach of the Year selectors this season should take note of what Tomlin has done to get the Steelers to the American Football Conference title game.

He entered the season without a starting quarterback; has played a lot of the 13-4 record campaign with back-up players filling in for such key personnel as TROY POLAMALU, AARON SMITH, DANIEL SEPULVEDA, HEATH MILLER and others; and has come up with some ''new'' names as major contributors like MAURKICE POUNCEY, MIKE WALLACE, RAMON FOSTER, ZIGGY HOOD, ANTONIO BROWN, SHAUN SUSCHAM and JEREMY KAPINOS.

It hasn't been a smooth, non-bumpy ride for the Steel City jauggernaut but, somehow, Tomlin has kept the ship on course and is now favored to grab the championship brass ring since Sunday's foe, the Jets, derailed the title pick, the New England Patriots.

With all the season hurdles, and obstacles, to overcome, a Steelers victory against the Jets should be enough to convince the Coach of the Year electors to place that tag on Tomlin.

Chuck Noll, I'm sure, would agree.

BOB HUGGINS.

The West Virginia men's basketball coach is the fourth winningest active NCAA mentor who is coming off a Final Four appearance last season.

That's obviously the reason many folks would give him a pass after his No. 21 nationally ranked Mountaineers fell behind by 24 points en route to a Wednesday night upset loss to Marshall.

But is there a double standard in looking at WVU coaches?

The Marshall basketball team is not to be confused with a majority of Big East Conference teams faced by WVU. While most of the Big East foes have solid roundball traditions, Marshall has yet to win its first NCAA Tournament game and, in fact, hasn't been to any postseason tournament - NCAA or NIT, since 1988.

While Huggins gets a ''pass'' for this setback, outgoing WVU football coach BILL STEWART was subject to major criticism after his team was forced into overtime, at Huntington, to DEFEAT the Herd. This is the same WVU coach who guided the team to, arguably, the school's best victory against Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

While Marshall hasn't been that competitive in football the last six seasons, the Herd football team - unlike the men's basketball team - has been in postseason bowl games as recent as 2004 and won a postseason bowl game in 2002.

One coach, with a great track record, gets a pass after an embarrassing loss to an in-state opponent.

Another coach, with a 70-percent winning record, gets the door after an embarrassing victory against the same in-state foe.

It must be the Luck of the draw.

Enjoy the wintry weekend.

 
 

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