The history of the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise can go way back about 50 years. During that time span, the Steelers have been notorious for continuity and that has been a huge part of the team’s success in capturing six Super Bowl championships. The team has made it to the big dance eight times in total. The Steelers made Super Bowl appearances in the 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1995, 2005, 2008, and 2010 seasons. A huge part of that success is, of course, attributed to a grocery list of Hall of Fame players that I could go on forever adding to this article.
However, what’s a crew ship without a captain? The team has only had three head coaches since 1969! What makes a great head coach in the National Football League? To simply state it, winning. Regular season records, playoff records, Super Bowl wins, and consistency to get the most out of what you have on the roster! The list of the top 3 greatest Steelers head coaches of all-time can start from 1969 and go all the way through present day, today, and all three led the black and gold back-to-back-to-back.
Let’s take a look at the top 3 greatest Steelers coaches of all time!
3. Mike Tomlin
Years: 2007- Present (15 seasons and counting)
Regular Season Record: 154-85-2
Playoff Record: 8-9
Super Bowl Record: 1-1
Tomlin took over for Bill Cowher in 2007 after Cowher decided to resign from coaching to spend more time with his family and eventually got into being an NFL analyst at CBS. Tomlin did in fact inherit a championship caliber team when he stepped in as a first-time head coach in 2007, however he inherited a championship caliber team that underperformed the year prior to his arrival, going 8-8 and missing the playoffs in Cowher’s last season coaching. Tomlin seemed to be exactly what the team needed.
After his first season under his belt, the Steelers went on to win Super Bowl XLIII defeating the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in his second year with the team. He also was named the Motorola Coach of the Year in 2008. Tomlin would lead the Steelers back to the promise land in the 2010 season, but fell short to the Green Bay Packers that year.
Tomlin has seen so much regular season success since his time in Pittsburgh began. He has led the team to three AFC Championship games and made two Super Bowl appearances. Tomlin is the ONLY head coach in franchise history to never have a losing season! He would be higher on the list if he had more playoff success, but he still has plenty of time to add to his resume. He’s only 50 years old and has already had a Hall of Fame career!
2. Bill Cowher
Years: 1992-2006 (15 seasons)
Regular Season Record: 149-90-1
Playoff Record: 12-9
Super Bowl Record: 1-1
Cowher took over for the Steelers in 1992. Filling the shoes of the great, Chuck Noll, would be a very tough task to do. It was his first and only head coaching job in his coaching career. Cowher would continue the Steelers’ great tradition of success, although, I’m sure he wishes he had more success winning it all! Cowher led the Steelers to six AFC Championship games, only winning two of those, therefore reaching the Super Bowl twice. The first time he reached the Super Bowl was in the 1995 season. He brought the Steelers back to the game of all games for the first time since 1979. The Steelers lost to the Dallas Cowboys 27-17 that year. After that 1995 season, Cowher wouldn’t return to the Super Bowl until a decade later. He led the team to a Super Bowl XL victory over the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 to capture the “One for the Thumb.”
Cowher was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020. So, with all of that success, why is he number 2 on my list?
1. Chuck Noll
Years: 1969-1991 (23 seasons)
Regular Season Record: 193-148-1
Playoff Record: 16-8
Super Bowl Record: 4-0
Noll took over a team that had never won an NFL Championship before. You could credit Noll with why the Steelers are known as such a consistent team year in and year out. He is the man that started it all. The Steelers were established in 1933 and would go on a 40-year drought without winning the big game! Noll took over in 1969, but wouldn’t have immediate success. The team didn’t win their first playoff game until the 1972 season, three years after Noll was hired. If it were any other NFL franchise in today’s league, Noll probably would have been fired for the very little to no success he saw in his first couple of years.
Noll would go on to post 15 winning seasons in his 23 years, leading the Steelers to four Super Bowl championships without losing one! Noll was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. He paved the way for the continuity and success the franchise is known for today!