John Mitchell: Instrumental in the Development

The Steelers promoted long-time coach John Mitchell today. Here is an excerpt of the coaches bio from the Steelers’ media page:

John Mitchell is in his 14th season as the Steelers defensive line coach, ranking him as the longest-tenured member of the Steelers coaching staff. He remained with the team following Mike Tomlin’s hiring in January, 2007.

Mitchell, who joined the Steelers’ coaching staff Jan. 31, 1994, is in his 35th season of coaching, including 16 years at the college level and two in the United States Football League. This is his 17th season as an NFL coach.

Mitchell has been instrumental in the development of the Steelers defensive linemen, including three-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton and defensive end Aaron Smith, who earned his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2005. He also helped develop starting defensive end Brett Keisel and nose tackle Chris Hoke, who filled in sensationally for an injured Hampton during the 2004 season.”

Here is today’s report from ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli with a little “lift” from the Steeler wordsmiths, and nary an attribution:

“PITTSBURGH — On the eve of their first training camp practice, the Steelers promoted longtime defensive line coach John Mitchell to assistant head coach/defensive line, the team announced Monday.

Mitchell, 55, is the Steelers’ longest-tenured assistant coach, having joined the franchise in 1994. He was one of the assistants retained by first-year head coach Mike Tomlin from Bill Cowher’s staff and is highly respected around the league. A 34-year coaching veteran, Mitchell has been instrumental in the development of Pro Bowl defensive linemen Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith. This year, Mitchell will be asked to help prepare end Brett Keisel for his new role as a hybrid player, lining up at times as a linebacker, in the Steelers’ 3-4 front.”

That’s a tidy update from Pasquarelli. Cutting and pasting at its best.

More importantly, congratulations to John Mitchell.

He’s been in the coaching business for nearly four decades. It will be interesting to see he and Mike Tomlin patrolling the sidelines in Pittsburgh. This was probably a master stroke by Tomlin. Although Steeler fans are notorious supporters of the team, there must still be some ill will (the degree I cannot say) that Tomlin was hired rather than Russ Grimm or Ken Whisenhunt.

Mitchell’s pedigree is impeccable. Pasquarelli adds (with a little help from the Steelers media office):

“A former All-American defensive end at Alabama, Mitchell was the first African-American to play for the Crimson Tide. He began his coaching career at his alma mater under the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, tutoring defensive linemen from 1973-76, and then moved on to Arkansas, where he worked for Lou Holtz (1977-82).

In 1986, he coached at Temple and in 1987 moved to LSU, where he became the first African-American defensive coordinator in SEC history.”

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