Five Steeler Coaches Out; Noll to Stay
The Pittsburgh Steelers today fired four assistant coaches after several weeks of hints of a staff shake-up, and defensive coordinator Tony Dungy resigned.
The Steelers said Chuck Noll will remain with the team for the rest of his career.
“I am pleased that Chuck Noll will continue as our head coach and remain with the Steelers until he retires from football,” Steelers President Dan Rooney said in a prepared statement. “He has done a great job for the Steelers and has represented the city well. I have much confidence in his ability to lead this team back to the top.”
At a late-morning news conference, Rooney announced Dungy’s resignation and the dismissals of linebackers coach Jed Hughes, guards-center coach Hal Hunter, conditioning and training coach Walt Evans and Dennis Fitzgerald, a special teams coach.
The firings are the most in Noll’s 20 years as head coach and the first since he dismissed secondary coach Dick Walker in 1981. The Steelers ended the season 5-11, posting their worst record since 1969, when Noll’s first Steelers team finished 1-13.
Speculation over a coaching shake-up escalated Dec. 26, when CBS-TV reported that Noll had threatened to resign over proposed changes in his staff. The network said Noll told his coaching staff that he was considering quitting because he could not follow Rooney’s orders to fire some of them.
Rooney later denied the report, saying Noll never told him that he planned to quit.
Dungy, the NFL’s youngest coordinator at age 33, joined Noll’s staff as a defensive assistant in 1981. He became secondary coach the next year and defensive coordinator in 1983.
Hughes, 41, joined the Steelers in 1984 as outside linebackers coach and became responsible for all the linebackers in 1987.
Fitzgerald, 52, was hired by Noll in 1982 and had coached the inside linebackers until he was demoted in 1987 to a special teams coach and defensive assistant.
Hunter, 54, coached the Steelers guards and centers the past four seasons. Evans, 37, had been the Steelers’ conditioning and training coach since 1983.