Steelers hire Tomlin as head coach

NEW YORK Mon Jan 22, 2007 6:11pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Pittsburgh Steelers hired the Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin as their new head coach on Monday.

The 34-year-old Tomlin replaces Bill Cowher, who resigned two weeks ago after 15 seasons as the Steelers' head coach. Tomlin reportedly signed a four-year deal with an option for a fifth.

"We are very excited to announce that Mike Tomlin has accepted the position of head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers," Steelers President Art Rooney II said on the team's Web site (www.steelers.com).

"Mike emerged as our top choice from a pool of several very qualified candidates that we interviewed. I think Mike's core beliefs are a good match for our organization and the way we want to approach the game of football."

Tomlin was the Vikings' defensive coordinator in 2006 after spending the previous five years as defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Minnesota ranked eighth overall in defense, number one in the league against the run but tied for last with Cincinnati against the pass.

Tomlin becomes the first African-American coach of the Steelers, and only the franchise's third head coach in the past 38 years.

The Steelers won the Super Bowl a year ago but slumped to 8-8 this season and missed the playoffs.

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