IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY- MONDAY DECEMBER 16, 1968- THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS FIRE HEAD COACH BILL AUSTIN [THE LAST HEAD COACH THEY HAVE FIRED]

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It was fifty years ago today- December 16, 1968- the Pittsburgh Steelers fired head coach Bill Austin after three dismal seasons. Austin was a disciple of the great Vince Lombardi in Green Bay and arrived in Pittsburgh in 1966 to turn the franchise around. {The Steelers today may be thought of as one of the marque franchises in the NFL- but from their start in 1933 through 1971 they were the equivalent of the current day Cleveland Browns- a laughing stock.} Austin turned out to not to be Lombardi- in his three seasons the Steelers went 5-8-1 in 1966, 4-9-1 in 1967 and 2-11-1 in 1968. The Steelers had seen enough and pulled the plug on Austin. Austin who was only 40 in 1968- would go back to work for Lombardi and would be the interim coach in 1970 for the Washington Redskins when Lombardi was struck with cancer in 1970- going 6-8. He would be an assistant coach after that around the league finishing his career in 1985.

The reason I am making this post isn’t because I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan- it is because- since firing Bill Austin as head coach 50 years ago today- the Steelers have not fired another head coach. In those 50 years since Austin’s firing- Dan Rooney [whose first hire running the team was Bill Austin} has hit the jackpot with three coaches who have all won Super Bowls- The Emperor Chuck Noll took over in 1969 and coached through the 1991 season- winning four Super Bowls before retiring. Bill Cowher 1992- 2006- winning one Super Bowl before retiring and since 2007- Mike Tomlin who has a Super Bowl to his credit.  In a day when sports franchises change head coaches/ managers on a regular basis [in the 20 seasons since returning to the league the Cleveland Browns have had 10 head coaches for example} the Steelers have shown incredible stability.

The current 2018 Steelers team has been struggling as the season winds down and there are those in Pittsburgh calling for Mike Tomlin’s head. The Steelers have lost three in a row – all games they should have/could have won- ugly losses- and with the Patriots and Saints coming up the prospects do not look promising.  I don’t see the Rooney family firing Tomlin right now- I do think in the off season there will be changes made to the coaching staff- and Tomlin will be put on notice that in 2019 things had better shape up. I have always been a Tomlin backer but right now I am questioning whether his continued long term employment is a good idea.

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6 responses to “IT WAS FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY- MONDAY DECEMBER 16, 1968- THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS FIRE HEAD COACH BILL AUSTIN [THE LAST HEAD COACH THEY HAVE FIRED]

  1. When Bill Cowher quit I wondered if they would continue winning…well they did. In this day and time having that kind of track record of 50 years is hard to believe.
    I always thought Cowher would come back to coaching… terrible about his wife.

    • I bet Cowher originally planned on coming back but found that he liked the life of being in the booth. He got his Super Bowl.

  2. Logically it’s hard to believe coaches get dumb overnight. Tomlin won a Superbowl…maybe it’s how coaches connect with the newer generations or refuse to bend to new ways.
    Also, it’s the talent on the field of course.

    • The defense still hasn’t recovered from or replace Ryan Shazier. He was their best defender.. and Bell didn’t play–so maybe they just aren’t that good. Either way I think he gets at least another year to get things back in order.

  3. Correction: The Cleveland Browns are no longer a “laughingstock”. I also respectfully add that their home game tie with the Steelers, QB – RB upgrade, and string of wins against other competitive teams this year bodes well for the team as an AFC North power in the near future.

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