Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh Show No-Name Coaches Can Get the Job Done

Tom FroemmingCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2009

Football fans across the country are wondering why Tampa Bay and Denver would fire their Super Bowl-winning head coaches and hire relative no-names as replacements.

While there are certainly many questions surrounding both franchises that need to be answered, these things can work out for the better. Just ask the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.

Bill Cowher led the Steelers to a Super Bowl championship in 2005 but retired a year later after Pittsburgh fell to 8-8. Mike Tomlin was selected to take over the Steelers after serving just one season as defensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings. Before that, he coached defensive backs with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That's not exactly a track record that makes a fanbase drool.

In two seasons with the Steelers, Tomlin is 22-10 in the regular season, leading the team to the playoffs both years. Not bad for a guy in his mid-30s who was originally considered a long shot to land the job.

Tomlin's adversary in Sunday's AFC Championship game has had an even more impressive rise to greatness. Just last year, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was the defensive backs coach with the Eagles. Before that, he was a special-teams coordinator.

While Harbaugh is a decade older than Tomlin (46), and more experienced, no one would have expected this first-year had coach would take a rookie quarterback and a defense that was supposedly aging to a conference championship.

With that in mind, who's to say Josh McDaniels and Raheem Morris won't take their teams to the promise land in years to come?

McDainels is taking over for Denver sports icon Mike Shanahan after serving as New England's offensive coordinator for three years. McDainiels is just 32-years-old, meaning he was 19 when Mike Shanahan debuted in Denver.

While it's not official yet, Morris is expected to take over for Gruden. The promotion would be his second since Christmas. Morris, who is also 32-years-old, was the Bucs' defensive backs coach last season.

He was expected to serve as Tampa's defensive coordinator in 2009, but looks to take over as the head man with Gruden on his way out.

While first-time head coaches struggle more often than not, Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh have shown there are exceptions. Don't expect the Broncos and Bucs to fade into oblivion just because their once-revered head coaches are gone.