Despite youth and inexperience, Tomlin feels up to job

The Vikings assistant got his second interview with the Steelers on Tuesday.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin, one of three finalists for the Pittsburgh Steelers' head coaching job, had his second interview Tuesday.
The 34-year-old Tomlin is the same age former coach Bill Cowher was before the Steelers hired him in 1992. He hopes that is more than a coincidence, although he has been an NFL coordinator for only one season.
"Those that support me make sure that I understand that," Tomlin said. "But they're looking for a football coach. That's what I consider myself. My age is my age."
As the defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tomlin learned under Tony Dungy -- the former Steelers player and current Indianapolis head coach who has led the Colts to the AFC championship game.
"It's humbling," Tomlin said. "These are great football people. I've got a great deal of respect for what they do and what they've done. It's just a very humbling experience to be involved in but, at the same time, professional football is what I do and I'm a competitor like everyone else."
Grimm the front-runner
Tomlin knows that Steelers assistant head coach Russ Grimm is considered the front-runner, especially now that former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has been hired as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
The Steelers plan to talk to Grimm again today. Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, the remaining finalist for the job, can't meet with the team again until the Bears' season ends.
In two long interviews with Steelers owner Dan Rooney, president Art Rooney II and director of football operations Kevin Colbert, Tomlin began to understand what they want from the man who will be the team's third coach in 38 years.
"I think regardless of who they hire to be the head coach, they expect them to lead, and part of leading is being prepared to do things that you feel strongly about," Tomlin said. "So I'm no different from anyone else in that regard."
Cowher, the Steelers' coach for 15 seasons, resigned Jan. 5 -- 11 months after leading the Steelers to their first Super Bowl title in 26 seasons.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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