Mike Tomlin

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Mike Tomlin
Color head shot of African-American man (Mike Tomlin) in profile on a football sideline wearing a black and gold Pittsburgh Steelers jacket, Motorola headset and sunglasses.
Tomlin with the Steelers in 2007
Pittsburgh Steelers
Position:Head coach
Personal information
Born: (1972-03-15) March 15, 1972 (age 48)
Hampton, Virginia
Career information
High school:Newport News (VA) Denbigh
College:William & Mary
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
As head coach:
  • Super Bowl champion (XLIII)
  • Motorola Coach of the Year (2008)
  • Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year (2008)
  • Youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl (XLIII)

As assistant coach:

Head coaching record
Regular season:133–73–1 (.645)
Postseason:8–7 (.533)
Career:141–80–1 (.637)
Coaching stats at PFR

Michael Pettaway Tomlin (born March 15, 1972) is an American football coach who is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL), having led the team since 2007. Tomlin is the youngest head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, doing so at the age of 36 in Super Bowl XLIII against the Arizona Cardinals.

Early life[edit]

Tomlin was born in Hampton, Virginia,[1] 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, was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, and 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. However, Tomlin hardly knew his birth father and was raised by his mother and stepfather, Julia and Leslie Copeland, who married when Tomlin was six years old.

Tomlin graduated in 1990 from Denbigh High School in Newport News, Virginia. He graduated from the College of William and Mary, becoming a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. As a wide receiver, he was a second-team All-Yankee Conference selection in 1994.

Coaching career[edit]

College football[edit]

His coaching career began in 1995 as the wide receiver coach at Virginia Military Institute under head coach Bill Stewart. Tomlin 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.

National Football League[edit]

Positions coach[edit]

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.[2]

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 a Super Bowl-record five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.[3]

Defensive coordinator[edit]

Tomlin was selected by Vikings' head coach Brad Childress to be his defensive coordinator in 2006.[4][5]

Two of the players on the Vikings roster were older than Tomlin, and Tomlin had been a teammate of Vikings' safety Darren Sharper while 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[6] and the worst-ranked defense against the pass.[7]

Head coach[edit]

Tomlin in the victory parade after winning Super Bowl XLIII.

After spending 2006 as the Vikings defensive coordinator, Tomlin was selected to interview for the vacant head coaching position with the 2005 Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. With only a year of experience as a defensive coordinator, Tomlin was hired on January 27, 2007 to become the sixteenth Steelers head coach. Tomlin replaced Bill Cowher, who retired after spending 15 years with the team. Tomlin had also interviewed for the head coaching vacancy with the Miami Dolphins, a job that eventually went to Cam Cameron.

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 (34 in 1935).[citation needed]

Tomlin is the 10th African-American head coach in NFL history and the first for the Steelers franchise. The Steelers owner, Dan Rooney, has served as the head of the NFL's diversity committee and proposed the Rooney Rule, requiring that teams interview at least one minority candidate when hiring a new head coach. Although Tomlin's ascension to an NFL head coaching job has been cited as evidence of the rule working as intended,[8] Rooney himself disputed this, as he had already interviewed a minority candidate prior to interviewing Tomlin.[9]

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 team'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 retained only 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, whose defensive philosophy contrasted with Tomlin's. 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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's 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 win percentage (68.8%).[citation needed]

On January 29, 2009, Tomlin was named the 2008 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year.[13] On February 1, 2009, at age 36, Tomlin became the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl when the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. The previous record was held by Jon Gruden, who was 39 when he won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coincidentally, Tomlin was the defensive backs coach under Gruden when the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl and was a key component for the success they received that year.[14]

On July 13, 2010, Tomlin signed a three-year contract extension with the Steelers. In 2010, he coached the Steelers to a 12-4 record and led 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.[15]

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 Steelers' 16 head coaches in franchise history, Tomlin was the fourth to reach this milestone. On July 24, 2012, Tomlin received a three-year contract extension through the 2016 season.[16] The financial terms were not disclosed.

In the 2012–2013 season, the Steelers finished 8–8 after struggling with injuries to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the offensive line and adjusting to the system of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley.[17] 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 interfering with a kick return. With the Steelers 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.[18] 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 standing in the white border area reserved for the officiating crew. Whether it was intentional or not, Tomlin 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 the stadium's Jumbotron, a mistake he said coaches often make.[19] The league subsequently announced it was investigating the matter, with the potential of a heavy fine and forfeited draft picks.[18] On December 4, 2013, the NFL announced that they had fined Tomlin $100,000, and hinted it was considering stripping the Steelers of one or more draft picks because his actions affected the play on the field.[20] 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.[21]

During the 2017 season Tomlin became the 3rd coach in NFL history to finish with a .500 or better record in his first ten seasons with one team (Steelers). He is behind only John Madden (Raiders) and Curly Lambeau (Packers).

With a record of 4-4 heading into Week 10 of the 2019 season, Tomlin moved up three spots with career-win number 137 to become 24th on the all-time wins list, passing Weeb Ewbank (134), Mike McCarthy (135), & Hank Stram (136).

Head coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Postseason
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 .563 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 .000 Lost to Baltimore Ravens in AFC Wild Card Game
PIT 2015 10 6 0 .625 2nd in AFC North 1 1 .500 Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Divisional Game
PIT 2016 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC North 2 1 .667 Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game
PIT 2017 13 3 0 .813 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Divisional Game
PIT 2018 9 6 1 .594 2nd in AFC North
PIT 2019 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC North
Total[22] 133 74 1 .645 8 7 .533

Personal life[edit]

Tomlin met his wife, Kiya Winston, while they were students at The College of William & Mary. Tomlin graduated with a Sociology degree in 1995.[23] They have three children: sons Michael Dean, born in 2000, and Mason, born in 2002; and a daughter, Harlyn Quinn, born in 2006.[24][25] Tomlin resides with his family in Squirrel Hill and attends a Christian and Missionary Alliance church.[26][27]


  1. ^ 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 November 7, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  2. ^ Smith, Michael (December 28, 2005). "'Simple' scheme nets big gains for trio of defenses". ESPN.com.
  3. ^ "Super Bowl XXXVII - Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Oakland Raiders - January 26th, 2003". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Johns, Betsy M (August 22, 2008). "Steelers coach Tomlin made strong impression in MN". Associated Press. Retrieved August 23, 2008.
  5. ^ Johns Chapman, Betsy (August 23, 2008). "Steelers coach, Vikings safety share history". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved August 23, 2008.
  6. ^ "2006 regular season defensive rushing stats". NFL.com. Archived from the original on January 19, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2007.
  7. ^ "2006 regular season defensive passing stats". NFL.com. Archived from the original on January 19, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2007.
  8. ^ "Tomlin proof NFL's Rooney Rule is working as intended". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved September 15, 2007.
  9. ^ 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."

  10. ^ "Steelers finish with top defense". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 1, 2008.
  11. ^ Collier, Gene (October 19, 2008). "Tomlin's early career looking an awful lot like Cowher's". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 20, 2008.
  12. ^ Bouchette, Ed (December 15, 2008). "Steelers Notebook: Game ends with some spit and a shove". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 15, 2008.
  13. ^ "404". TSN.
  14. ^ "Steelers win 6th Super Bowl in thrilling fashion". WNDU.com. February 2, 2009. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013.
  15. ^ Bouchette, Ed (July 13, 2012). "Steelers' Tomlin receives contract extension". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  16. ^ Bouchette, Ed (July 24, 2012). "Steelers sign Tomlin to three-year extension". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  17. ^ Graves, Will (December 31, 2012). "Steelers bracing for changes after 8-8 season".)
  18. ^ a b La Canfora, Jason. "Mike Tomlin, Steelers facing fine, possible loss of draft pick". CBS Sports. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  19. ^ Florio, Mike (November 29, 2013). "Tomlin says "I lost my placement" while watching return on Jumbotron". NBC Sports. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
  20. ^ "Mike Tomlin Fined $100k for Interfence During Jacoby Jones Kickoff Return". Archived from the original on November 7, 2014.
  21. ^ "Vikings' Tice fined $100,000 for scalping Super Bowl tickets". espn.com. ESPN, Inc. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  22. ^ "Mike Tomlin Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks - Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  23. ^ Pesola, Eric W. (2007). "Pittsburgh's New Man of Steel". William and Mary Alumni Association. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  24. ^ "Pittsburgh Steelers". Pittsburgh Steelers. 2007. Archived from the original on February 20, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  25. ^ New Pittsburgh Courier, February 14, 2007
  26. ^ "Steelers' Tomlin earns sexy honor". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 2008. Archived from the original on February 8, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2011.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  27. ^ "Mike Tomlin, Steelers head coach, talks about his faith", "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved March 29, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]