While the move might not come as a shock, it is nonetheless making waves throughout Steelers Nation:
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Dick LeBeau have mutually agreed to part ways.
Steve Stout of the Urbana Daily Citizen was the first reporter to break the news, and Gerry Dulac was the first Pittsburgh-area reporter to break the story.
Dick LeBeau out as defensive coordinator. Says he and #Steelers have agreed to mutually part ways: "Time to go in a different direction."
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) January 10, 2015
Although LeBeau has achived legend status in Pittsburgh, the news isn’t necessarily a surprise. The Steelers defense has dipped in recent years. And while that decline is largely due to talent, LeBeau is advancing in age.
Steel Curtain Rising is already on the record saying the Steelers should have kept LeBeau, but clearly they see things differently on the South Side.
Did the Butler Do It?
No mention has been made regarding LeBeau’s replacement, however for the past several years Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler has been rumored to be the heir apparent. Butler, fully aware of the possibility, opted to remain in Pittsburgh rather than join Ken Whisenhunt in Pittsburgh West, aka the “Arizona Cardinals.”
The Steelers have also taken steps to keep Butler in Pittsburgh in the face of numerous offers from other teams to make him their defensive coordinator.
- Perhaps Butler forced the Steelers hand, indicating he would no longer delay his professional development.
That is mere speculation at the time. The full story should emerge within the next few days.
Pressure from Rooney Again?
The other alternative is that Art Rooney II pressured the move. While the parting is being described as “mutual” LeBeau went at great pains with Gerry Dulac to clarify that the move was a “resignation” and not a retirement.
- One can easily imagine Bruce Arians finding a place for him in Pittsburgh West.
As Dale Lolley pointed out, LeBeau had made it clear to members of the Pittsburgh press that he wanted to coach next year, preferably in Pittsburgh but possibly somewhere else.
Earlier this season, Dejan Kovacevic indicated that Art Rooney II would make the final decision on LeBeau’s return. Gerry Dulac’s article, however, only indicates that the decision was made after meetings with Mike Tomlin.
If Art Rooney II did force Tomlin’s hand, it would not be the first time, as he refused to renew Bruce Arians contract in 2011.