As the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Tomlin was the third youngest head coach in any of the four major professional sports. As the tenth African-American head coach in NFL history, and first in Steelers history – he lead his team to victory in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 making Tomlin the youngest head coach ever to do so.
Tomlin was a three-year starter at wide receiver/tight end for William and Mary. He finished his career with a school-record 20 touchdown catches and was a second-team All-Yankee Conference selection in 1994. Tomlin never played in the NFL.
Tomlin’s coaching career began in 1995 as the wide receiver coach at Virginia Military Institute under current West Virginia University head coach Bill Stewart. He 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 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.
In 2002 and 2005, the Buccaneers were tops in the NFL in total defense during Tomlin’s tenure, never ranked worse than sixth overall and won Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003.
Tomlin was selected by the Minnesota Vikings to be their defensive coordinator in 2006. Two of the players on the Vikings were older than Tomlin, and Tomlin had been a teammate of Vikings’ safety Darren Sharper at William and Mary. The 2006 Vikings finished with the NFL’s eighth-best overall defense.
Tomlin became the sixteenth Steelers head coach on January 22, 2007, when he was hired to replace Bill Cowher, who resigned after spending 15 years with the team. Tomlin had also interviewed for the head coaching vacancy with the Miami Dolphins.
Dan Rooney – an advocate for diversity and the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers created the “Rooney Rule” which has helped many minority candidates achieve their dreams of leadership in the NFL.