Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said he was so pleased with the job Bill Cowher has done during the past 13 seasons that he could envision the team keeping the coach for the next 20 years.
“It’s definitely possible,” Rooney said. “I think we’ve had coaches in their 60s.”
Of course, Rooney — like his team — is looking no further into the future than the AFC Championship game Sunday at Heinz Field against the New England Patriots. He said the stability the organization has enjoyed with two coaches (Cowher and Chuck Noll) since 1969 is a big part of its success.
“If you have a good coach, you want to stick with him,” Rooney said. “We weren’t the least bit excited or depressed last year (when the Steelers finished 6-10 and out of the playoffs for the fourth time in six years). The media was, but I think our fans were fine.
“We had every intention of keeping him here.”
Just before Cowher, 47, led his team to training camp in July, Rooney and his son Art II, the team president, extended their coach’s contract through the 2007 season.
“That was never an issue,” Rooney said. “Teams that make changes. That’s their business, and I don’t want to call them names. When you make a change, you are starting all over. I think that’s foolish, because it’s almost like an expansion team where you’re going back to the beginning.”
Rooney said Cowher does a good job of balancing his life and avoiding burn-out.
“He enjoys being with the players, the team and the organization, and yet, he has a life. He has his family. His family means an awful lot to him.”
Cowher’s three daughters are accomplished basketball players, and he is often seen at their games in Fox Chapel. He also has plans to attend his oldest daughter Meagan’s games next month at Princeton University where she is one of the top freshmen in the Ivy League.
“I am looking forward to that,” Cowher said. “I have a very supportive family, and I get away from (the pressure of coaching) in the off-season. I try to keep my priorities in line. I’m not a 12-month guy.”