Thursday, January 04, 2007

Who's Taking Whom for Granted?

In a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column, the venerable Bob Smizik poses the question "Is it possible we've taken [Bill] Cowher for granted?" There is no doubt that Steelers fans have had a love-hate relationship with Mr. Cowher but the argument here is that if Mr. Cowher believes he will have similar success, or similar longevity, with some other NFL organization it might be Mr. Cowher who is taking his current situation for granted.

Lest anyone begin thinking that this posting will be used to minimize Mr. Cowher's accomplishments please think again -- Bill Cowher is a Hall of Fame coach. Here is a look at Bill Cowher's won-lost records in five year increments:

YearsWinsLossesTiesPercentage
1992-199653270.663
1997-200146340.575
2002-200650291.625

But admist all the celebration of Mr. Cowher's excellence this question must be asked: How many other organizations would have stood by their coach if he had missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons? Bill Cowher's Steelers had a combined record of 22-26 from 1998-2000 (inclusive) and finished no better than third in their division during those seasons; and what of his playoff struggles? In his first six seasons with the Steelers the team's postseason record was 5-6.

Jerry Jones? Wayne Huizenga? Bill Bidwell? Would any of these owners stand by Bill Cowher during tough times? In the time that Mr. Cowher has coached in Pittsburgh the Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, and Atlanta Falcons have each employed five head coaches.

The hope for a more lucrative contract, with another team, might be motivation enough for Bill Cowher to leave the Steelers' organization. However Coach Cowher would do well to be careful what he wishes for. Few, if any, other sports organizations would have allowed their head coach and team to work through their collective struggles together. So while all fans of the Black & Gold sould be grateful for all that Coach Cowher has accomplished in Pittsburgh, here's hoping that the coach appreciates just how special and unique his current situation is.

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