The Pittsburgh Steelers announced the passing of longtime scout and college scouting coordinator Ron Hughes earlier today. The news broke Tuesday morning with the team confirming it a short time ago.
Hughes, a local native born in Charleroi, served as a member of the Steelers’ organization from 2003 to 2015 as their college scouting coordinator. He retired after the ’15 season, replaced by Phil Kreidler, who still holds the position today.
Hughes had a strong relationship with general manager Kevin Colbert. The two worked together in Detroit; Hughes the Director of Player Personnel and Colbert, the Pro Scouting Coordinator from 1990 to 1999 before the Steelers hired him. A few years later, Colbert brought Hughes to Pittsburgh. The two won a pair of Super Bowls together and appeared in a third.
In 2009, Colbert said the Steelers’ drafting system was essentially the same model as Hughes ran in Detroit.
“Ronnie taught us a system they had developed in Detroit of evaluation, of organization, of draft development. I was working with him for 10 years, and when I came to Pittsburgh, we followed the same system that we used there,” Colbert said. “We added a few things here and there, but basically it’s Ron’s system that we continue to work under today.”
Draft picks Hughes made with the Lions included: Barry Sanders, Herman Moore, and Jason Hanson. In Pittsburgh, the Steelers routinely hit on their first round picks, taking Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, and Cam Heyward, to name a few. Since Hughes retired, Pittsburgh has drafted Artie Burns, T.J. Watt, and Terrell Edmunds with their top selection.
Bill Cowher sent his condolences via Twitter earlier this afternoon as did Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Hughes mantra was consistency and organization and few scouting departments – for better or worse – have been as stable as Pittsburgh’s. Most scouts in their department have been their for years, learning from guys like Hughes.