Pittsburgh Steelers. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Men At The Top – Introduction, Part II
The very first head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers was Forrest “Jap” Douds. He lasted just that inaugural season before being replaced by Luby DiMeolo, who also lasted just one campaign. Other “one year wonders” were Jim Leonard for the 1945 season only and Mike Nixon in 1965.
While Chuck Noll coached in the most games of all those who held his position (342), Bill Cowher was at the helm for 240 and Mike Tomlin has 128 under his belt and counting. Aside from those three standouts, the only other head coach to be there for more than 100 games was Buddy Parker, who was the head coach for 104 games from 1957 until he was replaced in 1965.
Chuck Noll finished his head coaching career with a winning percentage of .566. Cowher’s mark was much better at .623. Currently, Mike Tomlin holds a won/loss percentage of .641.
In Jap Douds only season, Pittsburgh’s first ever, his team finished 3-6. In 1937, super star Johnny “Blood” McNally took the helm and in three seasons he could only win seven of 33 games.
For three-time head coach Walt Kiesling, his first stint of two seasons saw him win only three games while dropping 16. The next time he was hired in 1941, he remained for four seasons and still posted a losing record of 13-20.
For his final try from 1954-1956, in those three seasons the Steelers won 14 games and lost 22. His final winning percentage was a mediocre .322.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a reputation of being poor luck losers since their inception in 1933 until they finally made it a routine of making the post-season in 1972. Before Chuck Noll, head coaches had a very difficult time winning games.
Jock Sutherland got the job in 1946 and in two seasons he coached the Steelers to a record of 13-9-1. Sutherland was on the job for Pittsburgh’s only opportunity to make the playoffs prior to 1972 when in 1947, the team finished in a tie for first place in the East Division at 8-4.
Facing the Philadelphia Eagles in a one-game playoff to decide who would play the Chicago Cardinals for the NFL title, Pittsburgh got whitewashed 21-0 at Forbes Field in front of their fans. The Eagles would go on to lose that title game to the Cards 28-21.
John Michelosen would take over for Sutherland the next season and in his four seasons as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Michelosen would win 20 games but lose 25 with two ties.
Next in line was Buddy Parker who managed to post a .520 winning percentage from 1957 through 1964 but again, he could not get the Steelers to the post season.
Before Chuck Noll was found by the Rooney’s, Bill Austin was on the sidelines and posted a record of 11-28. In a discussion of greatest head coach ever for the Pittsburgh Steelers, most fans would probably only include those very popular three…Noll/Cowher/Tomlin.
It would not be fair to neglect other head coaches who remain a part of Pittsburgh Steelers history and lore.
Next: Top, and Right-Hand Men