Sources told Mortensen that the team would announce Tomlin as coach either Sunday or Monday. Late Sunday night, the Associated Press reported that Tomlin had accepted the job, and ESPN.com's John Clayton reported that the Steelers were in negotiations with Tomlin's agent to finalize a contract.
Tomlin, 34, would become only the third Steelers coach in 38 years, and the first black head coach in their 74-year history.
Steelers officials met this weekend to discuss the final three candidates -- Pittsburgh assistant head coach Russ Grimm, Tomlin and Bears coach Ron Rivera -- and ownership decided to make an offer to Tomlin, Clayton reported.
Meanwhile, the Steelers issued a statement Sunday morning announcing, in effect, that they had nothing to announce and that the team does not expect to
reach an agreement with its new coach until at least Monday.
"At this point and time, the Steelers have not concluded a
contract agreement with a new head coach, nor do we expect to do so
today," Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said in the statement.
"There will be no other announcements from this office today."
Tomlin, a former Tampa Bay assistant, has been the coordinator for just one season under Brad Childress in Minnesota. Before that, he was a Buccaneers' secondary coach, a five-year spell that included installation of the teams' trademark "Tampa-2" scheme. He was an assistant coach in the collegiate ranks from 1995 to 2000.
Sports Illustrated's Web site, SI.com, first reported that Pittsburgh had decided on Tomlin earlier Saturday. Steelers owner Dan Rooney told AP he had no comment. Team president Art Rooney II, leaving the team's practice complex Saturday, said he had nothing to say.
Tomlin and Grimm, the Steelers' offensive line coach, both had their second interviews earlier this week. The Steelers weren't able to talk to Rivera because the Bears are still in the playoffs.
The Steelers' diligence in finding Cowher's successor cost
them offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.
Whisenhunt, one of the NFL's top offensive coaches, took the
Arizona Cardinals' job last Sunday rather than waiting to see if he
would be promoted by Pittsburgh.
While Whisenhunt was widely considered around the NFL to be
Cowher's heir apparent, the Steelers gave no such indication after
Cowher resigned Jan. 5. Also, they apparently didn't make a
counteroffer to persuade Whisenhunt to stay.
Grimm also interviewed with the Cardinals, but unlike
Whisenhunt, didn't get a second interview.
Tomlin is considered a bright, young rising star in the league. The Steelers have had great success with the young, talented defensive-coordinator type. They won four Super Bowls with Chuck Noll, who was a defensive coordinator on Don Shula's staff in Baltimore. Cowher replaced Noll and had a successful 15-year run that was highlighted by last season's Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.