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Super Bowl XLV: Pittsburgh Steelers' Berth is a Thorn in Houston Texans' Side

Michael ChungCorrespondent IIIJanuary 25, 2011

The Steelers are going to their third Super Bowl in three years.  They were built by Bill Cowher.
The Steelers are going to their third Super Bowl in three years. They were built by Bill Cowher.Nick Laham/Getty Images

I do not know Bob McNair personally, but I will venture to guess that he is a very nice and kind man.  When Texans fans were staging a rally to pressure McNair to fire current Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, McNair did not cave into the pressure and retained Kubiak.  Was this a wise move?  Consider that no head coach has been with a team longer than Kubiak without a playoff berth, but McNair is more than a business man and has values that extend beyond the bottom line. 

Texans fans have been loyal.  Since their inception in 2002, the Texans have sold out almost every home game, but since their inception, there have been no playoff berths, one winning season and two 8-8 seasons.  Something is wrong.  Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle writes:

"Three coaches hired during the same offseason—Brad Childress, Mike McCarthy and Sean Payton—have taken teams to the playoffs. Payton has won a Super Bowl, and Childress has already come and gone.  Eight coaches hired after Kubiak—Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Tomlin, Tony Sparano, Pete Carroll, Mike Smith, Rex Ryan, John Harbaugh and Todd Haley—have taken teams to the playoffs. Whisenhunt and Tomlin have taken teams to the Super Bowl.

“One of the most successful NFL coaches of all time, Bill Cowher, is available. In 15 seasons, most of those without an elite quarterback, he led the Steelers to the playoffs 10 times. His regular season record is 149-90-1. His postseason record is 12-9.” 

In fact, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that a source close to Cowher said the former Steelers head coach wanted to lead the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans when he decided to come back.  Both the Giants and Dolphins passed and have kept their current head coach. 

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McNair had his chance to nab one of the best coaches available who has proven to be a winner.  But because McNair is such a kind man and obviously has a good relationship with head coach Gary Kubiak, McNair chose to keep him for another year.  Why could this turn out to be a bad decision?  It is clear that Cowher wants to return to coaching someday, or else these rumors never would have swirled so much. He would even reportedly consider the Texans if the job became open.

Now rewind to the 2010-11 AFC playoffs.  Before the start of the playoffs, everyone thought that 14-2 New England would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, but the Pats lost their first game to the New York Jets.  This gave Pittsburgh homefield for the championship game and they won, going to their third Super Bowl in six years. 

One can argue that Cowher was the “first cause” of all this success.  Even though Tomlin will be the coach of two of their most recent Super Bowls, it was Cowher who laid the foundation.  When Tomlin took over from Cowher, he was wise not to make wholesale changes on the coaching staff, retaining the majority of Cowher's assistants. Tomlin recognized that a good thing was happening on the team, and good chemistry was created by Cowher. 

Tomlin even kept long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, even though he and LeBeau’s defensive philosophies were vastly different. Tomlin came from the famous Tampa-2 defense.   Hence, the current Pittsburgh team that will go to the Super Bowl was built by Cowher, the same man who said he would be interested in coaching the Texans.

Bob McNair has hired former Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator.  Hopefully, Phillips will be the final piece to a Texans playoff run.  If the hire fails to produce a playoff team and the Texans continue to show the pattern of losing games they should win, then McNair’s kindness would have not helped him. 

If Cowher is still available should the Texans fail again, then the choice is obvious, but what if Cowher is not available?  The Texans would have missed out on a great opportunity to bring in a Super Bowl-winning coach who knows how to build an organization. 

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