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Old 07-26-2006, 07:55 AM   #1
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Default Smizik: On Cowher

Smizik: Cowher a Super genius ... until next big loss
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

How do you go from buffoon to genius in 60 minutes?

Win a Super Bowl.

It is most humorous that the very people who previously ridiculed Bill Cowher -- the ones, in fact, that howled in anger and frustration when the Rooney family sensibly extended his contract -- are now so eager to lavish praise on him. They can barely utter a sentence about Cowher without the word "great" being included.

Greatness cannot be established by one game. It can only be established by a body of work.

Cowher had an excellent body of work before the Steelers won the Super Bowl in February against the Seattle Seahawks, which makes it understandable that winning such a momentous game might change his public perception. But he's not a genius today and he wasn't a buffoon before the Super Bowl.

He was and is an excellent coach. Let's wait until the end of his career before we confer greatness on him.

He has a large challenge in front of him beginning this weekend when the Steelers open training camp. If he can win a second Super Bowl, he'll go a long way toward establishing his greatness. If the Steelers falter, the very same people who are calling him great today will be ridiculing him. Some, in fact, will be demanding that he be replaced as coach. That's the nature of coaching, particularly coaching the Steelers where the fan base is so involved it allows emotion to overrule logic.

The absurdity of the anointing of Cowher with greatness is that if a few officiating calls in the Super Bowl went the other way -- a situation over which he had no control -- the Steelers could have lost. He might have done absolutely nothing different within the context of that game, but his reputation would have taken a massive hit. He would have been labeled, perhaps forever, as the coach who couldn't win the big game because, again, of circumstances over which he had no control.

The following is presented not to diminish the Steelers' Super Bowl victory but to show how easily the game could have gone the other way. The Super Bowl determined that the Steelers were the best team in football. It did not determine that Cowher is a great coach or that Mike Holmgren of Seattle is a lesser coach.

To refresh your memory:

If the back judge hadn't called offensive pass interference on Darrell Jackson against Chris Hope in what was then a scoreless game late in the first quarter, the Seahawks would have taken a 7-0 lead and the entire complexion of the game could have changed. It was the right call -- Jackson did push off -- but if the call hadn't been made it hardly would have been the biggest mistake made by an official.

Early in the fourth quarter, with the Seahawks losing by four, a Matt Hasselbeck to Jerramy Stevens pass to the Steelers' 1 was nullified by a holding call. If that call is not made, and lesser holds have been overlooked, the Seahawks probably score.

That's two touchdowns officiating calls took away from Seattle.

To this day it could be argued whether Ben Roethlisberger broke the plane of the goal line on the Steelers' first touchdown, which came on third down from the 1 early in the second quarter. It was an impossibly close call that went the Steelers' way. It almost as easily could have gone the other way.

That could have been one less touchdown for the Steelers.

Again, the point is not to diminish the Steelers' accomplishment but to show the absurdity of pronouncing greatness on Cowher when he might have coached exactly the same game and lost.

It brings to mind all the verbal abuse Cowher took after the Steelers lost the AFC title game to New England in 2001. It was almost as if Cowher dropped the winning pass while all alone in the end zone. In fact, if two Steelers linemen had held their blocks on a field-goal attempt that was blocked and returned for a touchdown, the outcome of the game might have been different. Cowher would have been praised, although he would have coached exactly the same game that he was ridiculed for losing.

Cowher was an outstanding coach before the Super Bowl and he'll be that regardless of the outcome of this season. Just don't try to tell that to many Steelers fans if he doesn't win a second Super Bowl.

What do you think?
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Old 07-26-2006, 08:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

Who was the folks mad at Cowher? I always thought Cowher was a good coach maybe a bit to old fashion in his offense but a great coach none the less
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Old 07-26-2006, 08:06 AM   #3
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

There were many. While I never called for his firing I started to doubt him after the 6-10 season and I wasn't exactly thrilled about the contract extension. For the record, I have no problem or shame admitting it. In my opinion, it was understandable. What Smizik decides to leave out of his article was that there were many in the media who also started to doubt Cowher. National and local media. Not just the fans.
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Old 07-26-2006, 08:16 AM   #4
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

Read this piece this morning.....

He is correct in several aspects...A coach's standing as "genius" or "bust" is often not in the coach's control....When the Patriots won their 1st Super Bowl....if they dont rule in the Pats favor on the tuck rule...or if Viniteri doesnt make that 45 yard FG in a blizzard....then Belichek loses. There are turning points in every season...for every team...turning points that are not in the coach's control...

Winning the super bowl does not make Cowher a great coach...he already was a great coach...all it served to do was improve other's perception of him. As "great" as he is now...as much as a "genius" as he is now...if this team starts out 3-4...the same people heaping praise on him now will be calling for his head...

mark it down..it's happened before...it will happen again
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Old 07-26-2006, 08:20 AM   #5
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

I never thought of Cowher as a horrible or bad coach. I've always thought of him as a great coach who could never get it done. In my opinion, you play the game in order to win Super Bowls, not playoff titles.

Overall, I think the fans in this city were very patient with Cowher but after that 6-10 season there were many who started to doubt him and understandably so. It's not as if Cowher was only around for four or five years and then the 6-10 season occured.

Once again, I never called for his firing, but I was doubting him and the extension did not make any sense at the time. No shame.
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Old 07-26-2006, 08:25 AM   #6
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

You know it's amazing that the moment a team seems to be going down the tube, that their are fans that want to abandon ship and call for the head of the coach. When in fact, the coach can not play the game. The players have to produce in order for things to happen.

It also amazes how one week the media can be singing the praises of coach and team but the next week they are all a bunch of bumbling idiots (including the media).

As a fan, I call for the head of a player before I call for the head of a coach.
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Old 07-26-2006, 08:30 AM   #7
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

Cowher reminds me a little of Peyton Manning as a coach.

Regular season warrior but could not put a winning stretch together in the playoffs to being home the big one.

Until last season.

Peyton still has much praise lavished on him - as the best QB of his generation - apparently all he has to do is win one SB and that will tick the final box for his ascension into greatness.

No matter about all the previous occasions where he and his offense imploded under pressure in the postseason.

Cowher does have some great stats for sure, but I feel his regular season success could also count against him funnily enough - because he has won only a single title.

Its often been offered in counter argument that he has only just got a QB worthy of the title, and maybe this is a fair statement.

But I would ask whose fault it is in the first place that he had guys like Kordellia Stewart running around back there in the first place.

Cowher is definitely one of the best coaches over the last 6-8 years, but if he wants to move into greatness he needs to win a few more rings - starting with this year when they will have the biggest of bullseyes on his back.

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Old 07-26-2006, 08:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

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Originally Posted by Livinginthe past
But I would ask whose fault it is in the first place that he had guys like Kordellia Stewart running around back there in the first place.
This is why I don't put the full blame on the players. On many occasions Cowher publicly backed Kordell and his liking and his appreciation for him.......for eight years.

By no means am I putting full blame on Cowher but when all is said and done, it comes down to coaching in my opinion. In all sports, who normally get's the boot, the coaching staff or players?

This is not a Cowher bashing thread nor do I want it to end up as one. But my main point is that it was understandable for fans to doubt Cowher and the possibility of us winning a Super Bowl under his helm. Smizik makes it sound like it was crazy to doubt him and this team. After a number of playoff losses and then a 6-10 season what exactly did Smizik expect? In my opinion, it was perfectly normal and understandable. Keep in mind, big difference in starting to doubt a coach and calling for his head.

For those of you who never doubted Cowher, more power to you. For those who won't admit it, well...as long as you know. As for Smizik, he has a tendency of wearing black and gold sunglasses when dealing with all three sports teams in this city. I'm sure he never had his doubts.
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Old 07-26-2006, 09:10 AM   #9
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43
This is why I don't put the full blame on the players. On many occasions Cowher publicly backed Kordell and his liking and his appreciation for him.......for eight years.

By no means am I putting full blame on Cowher but when all is said and done, it comes down to coaching in my opinion. In all sports, who normally get's the boot, the coaching staff or players?

This is not a Cowher bashing thread nor do I want it to end up as one. But my main point is that it was understandable for fans to doubt Cowher and the possibility of us winning a Super Bowl under his helm. Smizik makes it sound like it was crazy to doubt him and this team. After a number of playoff losses and then a 6-10 season what exactly did Smizik expect? In my opinion, it was perfectly normal and understandable. Keep in mind, big difference in starting to doubt a coach and calling for his head.

For those of you who never doubted Cowher, more power to you. For those who won't admit it, well...as long as you know. As for Smizik, he has a tendency of wearing black and gold sunglasses when dealing with all three sports teams in this city. I'm sure he never had his doubts.
I would think it would be only natural to have had your doubts about Cowher.

If he had won a ring or two and then endured a dry spell then he would have deserved a degree of loyalty and faith.

As it was, he got close to the big on numerous occasions but then made questionable playcalling decisions in those games - and showed a lack of a plan B once things began to go wrong.

Personally, I think that the way the Rooneys have laid the foundation in Pittsburgh, that most competent coaches would find themselves in the postseason on a reasonably regular basis.

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Old 07-26-2006, 09:17 AM   #10
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Default Re: Smizik: On Cowher

Quote:
Originally Posted by Livinginthe past
Cowher does have some great stats for sure, but I feel his regular season success could also count against him funnily enough - because he has won only a single title.
Interesting that you bring this up...

Bill Cowher = the Bobby Cox of the NFL?
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