Yesterday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the Arizona Cardinals requested permission to interview Mike Munchak for their head coaching position. At his press conference today, Mike Tomlin said the team has approved that request.
“We have,” Tomlin replied when asked if the team has granted permission. “That’s the fruit of the labor, if you will. We’re not going to be resistant to that. We’re going to be supportive of that. And do what’s appropriate.”
Tomlin says he did not have any specific details on when the interview will take place. We do know that per NFL rules, it has to happen this week. Clubs aren’t allowed to interview coaches who are still coaching in the Divisional round and beyond. If the Cardinals ultimately decided on hiring Munchak, they will have to wait until the Steelers are either eliminated from the playoffs or win the Super Bowl (hopefully that second one).
Tomlin also said he has not been contacted about any of his other assistants. Only Todd Haley’s name has been thrown around but it’s looking likely he’ll stay in Pittsburgh another year.
Munchak spent three years as the Tennessee Titans head coach from 2011 to 2013. The Steelers hired him in 2014 and Munchak has transformed the Steelers’ offensive line into one of the best in football. He worked with Alejandro Villanueva, turning him from a defensive linemen into a franchise left tackle.
Before playing the Houston Texans, Tomlin spoke highly of Munchak and said he deserves a second chance at being a head coach.
“He needs no endorsement from me,” Tomlin said. “It can be displayed in a lot of ways, the development of the men, the production of the men, the fact that we have three of our offensive linemen elected to the Pro Bowl. Mike does an awesome job.”
If Munchak leaves, and we’ll write a larger article on him some other time, the transition should be relatively easy. Shaun Sarrett has been with the team for six years and under Munchak, served as his right hand man. He’s been a valuable member of the coaching staff and spoken highly by all the players I have talked to. The biggest concern would be Munchak getting the job and taking Sarrett away. But that’s a bridge far away.
Should the Cardinals hire him, it could be a season of coaching staff turnover for the Steelers. In addition to Munchak, Richard Mann previously announced he was going to retire after this season. Defensive line coach John Mitchell and tight ends coach James Daniel are always yearly possibilities to do the same.