Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations, brought unique insight to the team's search. He and Scherer are cousins, and Scherer had long touted Tomlin.
"I knew Mike was involved with the Steelers before Mike did," Scherer said with a laugh.
Many questioned Tomlin's age and limited credentials. Not Scherer.
"Sometimes young guys, especially those who rise quickly, think they know it all," he said. "Mike doesn't."
Indeed, in building his staff, Tomlin sought more experienced hands. He retained four of Cowher's assistants and hired four former college colleagues.
The mix has produced two division titles in as many years and the franchise's seventh Super Bowl appearance.
"I've been blessed," Tomlin said, "to have been around some great coaches and people who took a personal stake in my growth and development not only professionally, but also personally. … And at different points in the season and the day, I call on those guys to help me do my job."
Amos Jones worked with Tomlin at Cincinnati and works for him with Pittsburgh, coaching special teams. He likens Tomlin to the late Bear Bryant.
"I played and coached for Bear at Alabama," Jones said. "I see (him) in Mike, in terms of being charismatic yet also being a guy who can reach out and shake a guy's hand who's not on the same plateau of life. Mike doesn't think of himself as above anybody by any stretch. He's a common man. As I say back on Southern terms, he's a man's man."
Now just wait a doggone minute. We're comparing a 30-something with two seasons of head-coaching experience with the iconic father of Southern-fried football?
Did we just not cross the line? Bryant had houndstooth hats older than Tomlin, for heaven's sake.
"He gives you that command, like Coach Bryant, where you know he has a plan," Jones added. "And if you just follow that plan and really listen, you know it's going to work. He can convey that to peers and players."
Tonight Tomlin will convey the ultimate plan, the plan to win the Super Bowl. He stands near the peak of his profession and hears hosannas from every direction.
For some desperately needed context, we complete the circle and consult the man who recruited Tomlin to William and Mary. Matt Kelchner was a Tribe assistant for 16 years before becoming head coach at Christopher Newport, and he considers Tomlin a valued friend.
"The only test that Mike has not passed that I see is the test of time," Kelchner said. "Can he maintain? That's a good résumé — you can't knock it. But the truest test is the test of time. That's a hard one."
On Page A1 Folks on the Peninsula who know Mike Tomlin say the Newport News native relishes being a role model.
Read a letter from Tomlin, originally published in USA Today, in which he says dreaming big is a key to success.
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