Explaining Myself: The Bruce Arians-Ben Roethlisberger Connection

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer IJanuary 10, 2010

The world of the Pittsburgh Steelers is currently upside down and sideways. Since the end of the season on Sunday, there has been a cleaning house of sorts, with the retirement of QB coach Ken Anderson, and the termination of special teams coach Bob Ligashesky and offensive line coach Larry Zierlein.

What came as the biggest surprise is Bruce Arians still being employed by the Steelers. The reason that this comes as such a shock is, Arians was reported to be on his way out by ESPN Radio in Pittsburgh. It later came out that Arians was the one to leak the news that he was going to be terminated.

Let's take a look at the time line.



Reports from Ken Laird of ESPN Radio states that he is CERTAIN that Arians was to be let go. Laird said that he would not be reporting this unless he was certain that Arians was going to be fired.

Mike Tomlin, as every coach does after their last game, meets with the Rooneys for his end of season meeting.



Tomlin meets with the team for their end-of-season interview, as he does every year. He meets with the team together, then with each player individually. One of these meetings was with Ben Roethlisberger.



All hell breaks loose when reports of Bruce Arians is not going to be fired. It is reported the Bruce Arians is the man that leaked the information about his termination.

The next question then becomes, why would Bruce Arians leak that he was to be fired? There has to be a reason.

At some point between the end of the Steelers last game Sunday, and Monday, when it was reported that Arians would be fired, something had to be brought to his attention that his career in Pittsburgh would be over.

Monday's conversation with Mike Tomlin and the Rooney family may have had something to do with it. In this conversation, Tomlin discusses why he believes the Steelers did not make the playoffs, and the changes he plans on making to his coaching staff.

Yes, it is HIS coaching staff, but it is also the Rooneys' team. The Rooneys will allow Tomlin to make the decision as to who will be back, and who will be let go.

During this meeting, one of three things happened.

1. Mike Tomlin said to the Rooneys that Arians is HIS guy, and he wants to keep him on the staff, because HE believes that Arinas is good enough to lead the Steelers offense to the Super Bowl.

The reason I do not believe this to be true, is because the only person that I believe could have told Arians he was not going to be back, would be Tomlin.

IF, this is true, and Tomlin decided that Arians was important to the Steelers success, Tomlin's future is going to be based on this decision.

If the Steelers do not make it back to respectability next year, then Tomlin will have to answer why he decided to keep Arians.

2. Tomlin said to the Rooneys that he intended on letting Arians go, and the Rooney family convinced Tomlin that Arians needed to stay.

Why would the Rooney family insist on keeping Arians instead of letting Tomlin let him go? By asking Tomlin to keep Arians, they would not be able to hold Tomlin responsible for failure by the offense next year.

The Rooney family are investing over $100 million in Ben Roethlisberger, and Roethlisberger likes Bruce Arians. If the Rooneys want to keep Ben happy, then keeping Arians is a step towards that.

3. Tomlin decided to let Arians go, the Rooney family agreed with him.

One of these situations happened, but let's look at Tuesday.

Tomlin goes into the team meeting, then does the individual interviews. According to Mike Logan on ESPN Radio, the interviews go basically by the importance of the player. Roethlisberger had to be one of the first interviews. In this conversation, only one thing could have happened.

Ben Roethlisberger said to Mike Tomlin that he wanted Bruce Arians to stay, and be a part of the team. There was no threat, there were no tears. Ben simply said he wanted Arians to stay.

NOW, at some point, between these interviews, Mike Tomlin made the decision to not fire Bruce Arians. He either threw his support behind Arians, which is doubtful, or Arians would have never leaked that he was going to be fired. OR, The Rooneys or Ben Roethlisberger convinced Tomlin that Arians was the way to go.

It is still Tomlin's decision, but do you really think he would go against the Rooney Family OR Ben Roethlisberger?

If Arians did not have the support of Ben Roethlisberger, he would not be employed by the Steelers today.

A comment was made that Ben is already signed for the rest of his career, and that he would do nothing to hurt his stats, or the team. This statement I have a problem with.

I do not believe for one second that Ben would hold out, or play bad. But, if the next OC that came in did not improve on Ben's stats, then there would be a riff with Ben and Tomlin or Ben and the Rooneys.

As for Ben being signed for the rest of his career, well, that is not true, either.

Ben is signed until the end of the 2015 season.  That is five more years. Ben will be 32. Ben is set to make $11.6 million per year from 2011-2014, and then $12.1 million in 2015, the last year of his contract.

This means, in all reality, that come 2014, four years from now, Ben will be signing his retirement contract. Probably for five more years, and he will be retired by then. If Ben's numbers start to diminish, what are the chances that he will decide to stay with the Steelers?

My guess would be pretty low. Here is the one thing that people seem to not be looking at. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls. Four by Terry Bradshaw, and two by Ben Roethlisberger.

There was a gap of nearly 25 years between Bradshaw's last Super Bowl victory, and Ben's first. That is a long time to go without a Super Bowl, especially when you are a team like the Steelers.

The Rooney family realize that Roethlisberger is a once-in-a-generation player. You cannot find one in every draft. The Steelers want to keep Roethlisberger happy, and if that means keeping Arians, then THAT is exactly what they are going to do.

It does not matter if the decision was made by Tomlin or the Rooneys. The decision to keep Arians was made so that Ben Roethlisberger would be happy.


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