By Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
February 7, 2012
If indeed he's the Steelers' new offensive coordinator, Todd Haley will have a few things in common with the guy he reportedly will replace.
Like Bruce Arians, Haley loves the passing game.
Like Arians, Haley has a passion for the game of golf.
I point that out because Ben Roethlisberger has similar interests.
Roethlisberger, the quarterback and face of the Steelers' franchise, likes it best when he's moving the offense via the pass. And when football season is over, he knows how to manuever around a golf course quite well. Often over the years, he'd tee it up with Arians. They've both been members at a private venue in western Pennsylvania as well as one in Georgia.
They used football, golf and an occasional game of cards to develop a very close relationship not often found between athlete and coach.
Maybe that's one reason Steelers president Art Rooney II decided to part ways with Arians two weeks ago, that the close bond between Roethlisberger and Arians was too close.
That doesn't figure to be the case with Haley and Roethlisberger ... at least not right away.
Roethlisberger was upset when Arians wasn't retained. And, based on his past, Haley, the former head coach of the Chiefs, probably won't care if he ever develops a friendship with Roethlisberger. Over the years, Haley has gained the reputation of a combustible, headstrong egomaniac who's not afraid to be confrontational with his players.
Haley, who could be named O.C. as early as today, has ties to the Steelers. His father, Dick, played defensive back for the Steelers from 1961-64. Then from 1971-90, he was director of player personnel and responsible for drafting many of the great Steelers from the 1970s.
When Todd Haley was a kid growing up in Upper St. Clair, he'd spend time at training camp as a ball boy. But when he attended high school, he didn't play football. Instead, he played on USC's golf team.
After working for his dad in the Jets' scouting department in the mid-1990s, Todd Haley decided to enter the coaching profession. He coached wide receivers for the Jets and Bears. He coached in Dallas for three years as the Cowboys' wide receivers coach and passing-game coordinator.
From 2007-2008, he was the offensive coordinator in Arizona and helped the Cardinals make it to the Super Bowl XLIII against the Steelers. In '08, the Cardinals had one of the NFL's most explosive offenses. Of course, it helped to have Kurt Warner at quarterback and Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver.
But in the past three years as head coach in K.C., Haley's teams went 4-12, 10-6 and 5-8 in the regular season. The Chiefs did win the AFC West two seasons ago, but this past year Haley was fired after 13 games.
So now it appears that Haley, 44, is headed back to Pittsburgh. No doubt, the ties his father had with the Steelers didn't hurt his chances of landing the job. But most importantly, he got the job because of his offensive expertise.
It will be his job to make the Steelers a more explosive offense than they were under Arians.
If Haley does that, it won't matter if he ever calls Roethlisberger his friend.
Mike Bires can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 724-622-4284