There wasn’t a day that Mike Munchak was here in Pittsburgh in which he didn’t have an assistant working with him, and that assistant for that entire time was Shaun Sarrett. Sarrett, in fact, was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ assistant offensive line coach even before Munchak was hired in 2014.
The offensive line is, typically, the second- or third-largest position group on the entire roster, and often is the group that sees the most playing time—and the least rotation—in total. Which is why the offensive line coach, I’m guessing, is probably the most likely position coach to have an assistant all around the league.
With Sarrett now the offensive line coach, then, it’s quite likely that the Steelers will bring in a new assistant coach. And if they want to try to promote from within, one name that they may well be exploring is a name that is already on people’s minds as a Hall of Fame finalist. You know him as Alan Faneca.
Faneca, 42, spent the first decade of his career in Pittsburgh from 1998 to 2007 before playing three more seasons, earning nine Pro Bowls and eight All-Pro nods. He is bound to get into Hall of Fame whether it’s this year or a couple of years from now.
More to the point, he has also spent the past two summers serving as a coaching intern with the Steelers, working closely with Munchak and Sarrett during training camp as he pursued the idea of whether or not he wanted to become a full-time coach.
Now, I don’t know what his current feelings are of the idea of entering the coaching profession, but if he’s still interested in it, then he is sliding into a golden opportunity in Pittsburgh if they want him. They could go from one Hall of Fame lineman to another.
Of course, he would be hired as Sarrett’s assistant, and not the primary offensive line coach, but he would instantly have the player-to-player credibility that Munchak wielded. Players spoke positively about their time working with Faneca over the past two summers as well, particularly David DeCastro, who wears his number and has followed in his footsteps as an All-Pro guard, albeit on the opposite side.
It’s my understanding that he essentially worked with the team for a longer period of time last offseason than he was scheduled to, presumably because he was having a good time doing it. Perhaps that is a good sign that he is ready to enter the coaching ranks.
It’s not as though there isn’t a theme of hiring former players. While Carnell Lake and Joey Porter are now gone, Jerry Olsavsky is still on the staff. Hines Ward and Ike Taylor, among others, have also served as coaching interns in the past.
Needless to say, I would expect this to be a very popular idea, whether there’s any chance of it happening or not. But I’m sure they’ll hire somebody, and I wouldn’t hate it if it ends up being Faneca.