American Football Wiki
Mike Tomlin
Mike Tomlin
Tomlin during a warmups in prior to a game in
September 2018.
Pittsburgh Steelers
Position  Head coach
Personal information
Born:  March 15 1972 (1972-03-15) (age 52)
 Hampton Virginia
Coaching career
Best Record:  13-3 (2017)
Career: 1995-present
Playing career
High school:  Denbigh (Virginia)
College:  William & Mary
NFL Draft:  1995 / Undrafted
Position:  Wide receiver / Tight end
Career:  1990-1994
Career history
Career highlights and awards
As coach

Mike Tomlin (born March 15, 1972) is an American football head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. Tomlin is the third youngest head coach in any of the four major North American professional sports. He is the tenth African-American head coach in NFL history, and first in Steelers history. With the Steelers' victory in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009, Tomlin became the youngest head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. Tomlin is also the third African-American coach to participate in the Super Bowl and the second to win it. He's also the only Steelers coach to not have a losing record under .500.


Playing career[]

Tomlin attended Denbigh High School and was a three-year starter as a wide receiver/tight end for the College of William and Mary, where he became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He finished his career with a school-record 20 touchdown catches. He was a second-team All-Yankee Conference selection in 1994. Tomlin never played in the NFL.

Coaching career[]


Tomlin's coaching career began in 1995 as the wide receiver coach at Virginia Military Institute under former 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 stayed there for two seasons, before being hired as defensive backs coach by the University of Cincinnati.

All of Tomlin's coaching jobs at the college level were for NCAA Division I teams.

National Football League[]

Assistant coach[]

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.[1]

In 2002 and 2005, the Buccaneers led the NFL in total defense (fewest yards allowed per game)—during Tomlin's tenure, the defense never ranked worse than sixth overall. When the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003, the team recorded five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns.

Tomlin was selected by Vikings' head coach Brad Childress to be his defensive coordinator in 2006.[2][3] 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, but had the unusual distinction of finishing as the top-ranked defense against the run,[4] and the worst-ranked defense against the pass.[5]

Head coach[]

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, which eventually was given to Cam Cameron.

Tomlin continues a trend of 30-something Steeler head coaching hires, following Cowher (hired at age 34 in 1992), and Chuck Noll (hired at age 37 in 1969). Other Steelers coaches hired in their thirties include Bill Austin (hired at age 38 in 1966), John Michelosen (hired at age 32 in 1948), Jim Leonard (hired at age 35 in 1945), Walt Kiesling (hired at age 35 in 1939), Aldo Donelli (hired at age 33 in 1941), Johnny "Blood" McNally (hired at age 33 in 1937) and Joe Bach (hired at age 36 in 1935).

Tomlin is the tenth African-American head coach in NFL history and the first in Steelers franchise history. Steelers owner Dan Rooney has served as the head of the NFL's diversity committee and proposed the Rooney Rule, requiring that teams interview minority candidates when selecting a head coach. Although Tomlin's ascension to an NFL head coaching job has been cited as evidence of the rule working as intended,[6] Rooney himself disputes this, as he had already interviewed a minority candidate prior to interviewing Tomlin.[7][8]

Terms of Tomlin's contract have not been released officially. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports a four-year deal ($2.5M each year) with an option for a fifth year. He is the third consecutive Steeler coach to win his first game, and the first head coach in Steeler history to win his first contest against the rival Cleveland Browns.

In a stark contrast to Bill Cowher, who only retained longtime running backs coach Dick Hoak from Chuck Noll's staff (Hoak himself retired just before Cowher's resignation), Tomlin did retain many of Cowher's assistants, most notably defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau despite his contrasting defensive philosophy with Tomlin. This was done in order to keep team chemistry with the players, since the team was only one year removed from a Super Bowl win at the time of Tomlin's hiring. The Steelers finished Tomlin's first season as head coach with the top-ranked defense in the NFL.[9] Tomlin led the Steelers to the 2007 AFC North Division championship and a 10–6 record in his first year as head coach. The Steelers lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 31–29. Tomlin began his career with a 15–7 record in regular season play—as did his predecessor Cowher and all-time win-leader Don Shula.[10] Tomlin set a Steelers record for most wins, after winning 22 games in his first two seasons as head coach; in addition he became the first Steelers coach to win division titles in his first two seasons.[11]

When the Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 AFC Championship Game, Mike Tomlin became the youngest NFL Head Coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl. He also became the third African-American to coach a team into the Super Bowl, joining Chicago's Lovie Smith and Indianapolis' Tony Dungy—the two opposing coaches in Super Bowl XLI. (Jim Caldwell, Dungy's replacement, joined them a year after Tomlin by coaching the Colts into Super Bowl XLIV.) He was, after 2 seasons, the winningest head coach in Steelers history, based on win percentage (68.8%) (22–10)

On January 29, 2009, Mike Tomlin was named the 2008 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year.[12]

On February 1, 2009, Tomlin became the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl when his Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, beating the previous record held by Jon Gruden. On July 13, 2010 Tomlin signed a 3-year contract extension with the Steelers.

On November 13, 2011 Tomlin won his 50th game as a Steelers head coach with a 24-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. He is only the fourth of the 16 Steelers head coaches to do so.


Tomlin was born as Michael Pettaway Tomlin and is the younger of two sons; his brother, Eddie, is three and a half years older. Their father, Ed Tomlin, played football at Hampton Institute in the 1960s and was drafted by the Baltimore Colts. He later played for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. The elder Tomlin passed away in January 2012 from an appparent heart attack in Ocala, Florida at the age of 63.[13] Tomlin's mother, Julia, married Leslie Copeland, a supervisor for the U.S. Postal Service, in 1980.

Tomlin met his wife, Kiya Winston, while they were students at The College of William & Mary, where Tomlin majored in sociology.[14] He graduated in 1995. They have three children: sons Michael Dean, born in 2001, and Mason, born in 2002; and a daughter, Harlyn Quinn, born in 2006.[15][16] Tomlin resides with his family in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh and attends the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church.[17][18]

Tomlin is a spring 1991 initiate of the Eta Omega chapter at Old Dominion University and charter member of the Xi Theta Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, The College of William & Mary. Tomlin is popularly known for his uncanny resemblance to actor Omar Epps.[17] His name was referenced on an episode of the TV series House in November 2009 in Episode 8 of Season 6, Ignorance is Bliss, when House mentions feeling like Mike Tomlin because of having his team back, then states probably not as much as Foreman.

Head coaching record[]

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
PIT 2007 10 6 0 .625 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Wild-Card Game
PIT 2008 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC North 3 0 1.000 Super Bowl XLIII Champions
PIT 2009 9 7 0 .533 3rd in AFC North Did not qualify for playoffs
PIT 2010 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC North 2 1 .667 Lost to Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV
PIT 2011 12 4 0 .750 2nd in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Wild-Card Game
PIT 2012 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC North - - - Did not qualify for playoffs
PIT 2013 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC North - - - Did not qualify for playoffs
PIT 2014 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Baltimore Ravens in AFC Wild Card Game
PIT 2015 10 6 0 .625 2nd in AFC North 1 1 .500 Lost to Denver Broncos in AFC Divisional Playoff Game
PIT 2016 11 5 0 .688 1st in AFC North 2 1 .667 Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game
PIT 2017 13 3 0 .813 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Jacksonville Jaguars in AFC Divisional Playoff Game
PIT 2018 9 6 1 .594 2nd in AFC North - - - Did not qualify for playoffs
PIT 2019 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC North - - - Did not qualify for playoffs
PIT 2020 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Cleveland Browns in AFC Wild Card Game
PIT 2021 9 7 1 .559 2nd in AFC North 0 1 .000 Lost to Kansas City Chiefs in AFC Wild Card Game
PIT 2022 9 8 0 .529 3rd in AFC North - - - -
PIT 2023 10 7 0 .588 3rd in AFC North TBD
Total[19] 173 100 2 .631 8 9 .471

Coaching record vs. other teams (regular season)[]

How the Steelers fared in games with Tomlin as head coach.

Team Wins Losses Ties
1 Arizona Cardinals 1 1 0
2 Atlanta Falcons 1 0 0
3 Baltimore Ravens 5 5 0
4 Buffalo Bills 2 0 0
5 Carolina Panthers 1 0 0
6 Chicago Bears 0 1 0
7 Cincinnati Bengals 8 2 0
8 Cleveland Browns 9 2 1
9 Dallas Cowboys 1 0 0
10 Denver Broncos 1 1 0
11 Detroit Lions 1 0 0
12 Green Bay Packers 1 0 0
13 Houston Texans 1 1 0
14 Indianapolis Colts 1 1 0
15 Jacksonville Jaguars 2 1 0
16 Kansas City Chiefs 1 1 0
17 Miami Dolphins 3 0 0
18 Minnesota Vikings 1 0 0
19 New England Patriots 2 2 0
20 New Orleans Saints 0 1 0
21 New York Giants 0 1 0
22 New York Jets 0 2 0
23 Oakland Raiders 1 1 0
24 Philadelphia Eagles 0 1 0
25 St. Louis Rams 2 0 0
26 San Diego Chargers 2 0 0
27 San Francisco 49ers 1 1 0
28 Seattle Seahawks 2 0 0
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1 0 0
30 Tennessee Titans 3 1 0
31 Washington Football Team 1 0 0
Totals 55 25 0

Coaching record vs. other teams(playoffs)[]

How the Steelers fared in playoff games with Tomlin as head coach.

Team Wins Losses
1 Arizona Cardinals 1 0
2 Baltimore Ravens 2 0
3 Cleveland Browns 0 1
4 Jacksonville Jaguars 0 1
5 San Diego Chargers 1 0
6 New York Jets 1 0
7 Green Bay Packers 0 1
8 Denver Broncos 0 1
Totals 5 4

Coaching tree[]

NFL head coaches under whom Mike Tomlin has served:
Head Coach Team Capacity Year(s)
Tony Dungy Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach 2001
Jon Gruden Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach 20022005
Brad Childress Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator 2006

References and notes[]

  1. Smith, Michael. "'Simple' scheme nets big gains for trio of defenses",, 2005-12-28. 
  2. Krawczynski, Jon. "Steelers coach Tomlin made strong impression in MN", Yahoo! Sports, 2008-08-22. Retrieved on 2008-08-23. 
  3. Harris, John. "Steelers coach, Vikings safety share history", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2008-08-23. Retrieved on 2008-08-23. 
  4. 2006 regular season defensive rushing stats. Archived from the original on 2007-01-19. Retrieved on 2007-01-22.
  5. 2006 regular season defensive passing stats. Archived from the original on 2007-01-19. Retrieved on 2007-01-22.
  6. Tomlin proof NFL's Rooney Rule is working as intended. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved on 2007-09-15.
  7. Template error: argument title is required. 
  8. Newsday, February 1, 2009 Tomlin adapts well to players but leaves no doubt who's in charge

    The Rooney Rule dictates that for all head-coaching openings, each team must interview at least one minority candidate. But here's what's interesting: The coach who might be the Rooney Rule's greatest advertisement didn't benefit from it.

    "Let me say this: Mike Tomlin was not part of the Rooney Rule," Rooney said. "We had already interviewed Ron Rivera [then the Bears' defensive coordinator], and so that fulfilled the obligation," Rooney said. "We went on, had heard about Mike, called him in and talked to him. He was very impressive."

  9. Steelers finish with top defense. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on 2008-01-01.
  10. Collier, Gene. "Tomlin's early career looking an awful lot like Cowher's", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2008-10-19. Retrieved on 2008-10-20. 
  11. Bouchette, Ed. "Steelers Notebook: Game ends with some spit and a shove", Quick hits, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 15 December 2008. Retrieved on 15 December 2008. 
  12. Steelers' Tomlin named NFL Coach of the Year
  13. Medina, Carlos E.. "Former Marion County NAACP president Ed Tomlin dies at 63", January 17, 2012. Retrieved on January 23, 2012. Archived from the original on January 23, 2012. 
  14. Pesola, Eric W. (2007). Pittsburgh's New Man of Steel. William and Mary Alumni Association. Retrieved on 2009-01-20.
  15. Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh Steelers (2007). Retrieved on 2009-01-20.
  16. New Pittsburgh Courier, Feb. 14, 2007
  17. 17.0 17.1 Steelers' Tomlin earns sexy honor. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (2008). Retrieved on 2011-01-26.
  18. "Mike Tomlin, Steelers head coach, talks about his faith",
  19. Mike Tomlin Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks –


  • Bell, Jarrett (Spring 2009), Super Man (Magazine), 116, Baltimore, Maryland: The Crisis, ISSN 0011-1422 

External links[]

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