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Arians says he was forced to retire


The Steelers called it a retirement, but Bruce Arians has a little different take on it.

Arians told his hometown newspaper — York Daily Record — that he had little choice whether he was going to return for a sixth year as Steelers’ offensive coordinator.

“When I wasn’t offered a contract, it was an easy decision for me,” Arians said.
Arians helped the Steelers win Super Bowl XLIII and play in another before he was let go on Friday in what the organization labeled as a retirement.

According to Arians, that wasn’t the case, and owner Art Rooney didn’t give him a reason why.

“I can’t answer that question,” Arians said. “Only the people there can. That’s the
business. I know the job we did as a staff. I don’t have any regrets.”

Arians help lead the Steelers to back-to-back 12-4 seasons, and helped Ben Roethlisberger progress into one of the top quarterbacks in the league.
Arians said that Roethlisberger wasn’t happy with the decision.

“He’s not happy, but that’s part of the business,” Arians said. “He is happy for me. He lives around the corner and we’ll still see each other a lot. The phone is always there when he needs me.”

Roethlisberger and Arians live near one another in Georgia, and actually went to bat for Arians two years ago when his job was in jeopardy again.

Arians said that he has been contacted by “five or six” teams since Friday, but wouldn’t go into specifics.

Arians touched on other topics as well.

On Mike Tomlin: “My door is always open to him. I respect him a ton. I enjoyed our relationship and learned a lot. It was great watching him grow and working with him.”

On what he will miss the most: “The daily interaction with the guys is fantastic. It keeps you young, and it’s fun. That part I will miss. It’s a great group of young players in Pittsburgh that was fun to coach and will be really good, and I’m looking forward to watching them. The thrill of the games is always something you will miss . . . I will miss the camaraderie in the locker room.”

— Mark Kaboly


Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug


  1. SteelHeart says:

    Arians didn’t HAVE TO retire – he just had to LEAVE !

  2. Rob says:

    If he doesn’t know why he wasn’t offered a contract, he’s denser than we thought.

  3. StockholmTom says:

    I’m uncertain about the wisdom of changing OCoordinators–time will tell. But one thing I am certain about is this: the Rooneys used to, and usually, run a classy operation. Dumping a loyal guy like this is not classy, more what I’d expect from an Oakland or a Dallas.

  4. Yinzer says:

    Only in Pittsburgh do you have one of the top qb’s in the league and you decide to go back to an outdated nfl offense. run run run…. Give the dumb yinzers what they want.. It will be a long long time before they see another super bowl win..

  5. Eric says:

    So the team failed to make it past the first round and failed in execution but somehow that is his fault? Why are they not putting any blame on Tomlin, he is the head coach and he could override any decision Arians might have suggested.
    You simply cannot find this type of experience in the NFL so the fact they let him go when he accomplished plenty does not say much for Rooney or the organization.
    As a lifelong steelers fan I find this lack of loyalty disturbing.
    Without the massive injuries the steelers would be in the superbowl, Arians did all he could with what he had to work with and they still did better then expected. Is this how the steelers reward people?

  6. hammertime says:

    So long Bruce, best wishes in the future, not a said day for Pittsburgh at all, our Offense has not had a identity for years, and so many bone head play calls won’t be missed either, for instance, 1st and 1 at the goal line, what do we do, run the ball four straight times into the line, and don’t score nothing, or how bout 3rd and five for a first down to keep a promising drive alive, what do we do, throw the ball 50 yards down the field incomplete, then go on and lose the game!!!! Here’s hoping Mike Tomlin grows a full set of “cohonys” and go out side to find the next Offensive co-ordinator, someone inside already will bring the same CRAP we just had, and if he don’t or he won’t, HE needs to get gone TOO!!!!!!! I have stated many times that this is still a very good team, someone to guide them may be the problem!! See Tom Coughlin, at first none his players liked him, but he held his ground, stuck with his own idea’s, and the one’s who could’nt take it, either put-up, shut-up, or get the hell on!!!!!!!

  7. Carolina Mike says:

    Spot on Rob.

  8. Matt Sweeney says:

    I hate to see anyone lose their job, but if any QB ever needed a coach it is Ben. The sooner Ben realizes the only offensive stat that matters is scoring points the better off the team will be. It is not about making Ben happy.

  9. Dick says:

    I would not want to see anyone lose their job but sometimes a tough decision has to be made. The fact remains, the Steelers underachieved on offense. They have to get better if they are going to succeed. Like hammertime, I well remember that game when they ran into the line four straight times from the one and came up empty. They really needed to mix it up in that situation and that’s on the coach. There were too many times when the play calling was questionable. I believe Mr. Rooney made the right decision. I believe in loyalty but the NFL is big business and smart business has to trump loyalty if business is to improve and flourish. No hard feelings, Bruce. It was just time to move onl

  10. sjb says:

    If I was a pastry chef and my boss told me years ago that he wanted me to make more cakes than cannolis, yet I stubbornly went out of my way to make mostly cannolis, I would have to be an idiot to not understand why I no longer worked there. Arians refusal to incorporate a more balanced scoring offense in favor of a yardage offense, combined with said offense’s inability to score more points — especially in the red zone — is why Bruce was “retired”.

    Also, regardless of how much Ben may have liked Arians and wanted him back, Ben wasn’t running the show. How many times earlier in the season did Ben say he wanted to run the hurry up more when the stagnant and predictable offense was being shut down? Yet, the play calls coming in from Arians and Tomlin rarely allowed for this.

    If anything, I think Arians was a roadblock to Ben being able to calls his own plays when needed and manage the game based on the feel and intuition a veteran QB like him should have by now, which is more important IMO than Arians’ maddening stubbornness to not call the appropriate play at the appropriate time. “3rd and 1? No problem…let’s go empty set with some deeper crossing routes.” “Sacked? Whoa…gotta be Ben’s fault there…O-line gave him a whole 2 seconds to look off all 4 receivers.” “Passing game not working…simple solution…we need to pass more.” “2rd and 8? Let’s throw a bubble screen in there…whoa…lost 2 yards…gotta be just bad execution…”

    The Steelers of the 70’s had a pretty good QB and wide receiver unit too and rarely felt it necessary to abandon the run game because of it. Maybe the new OC can start a new trend in this copy cat, pass happy league and bring the game back to the ground where it’s been proven many times can be a successful way to win games and championships. This will only make it that much easier for the passing game to shine when it doesn’t have to carry a load it really can’t manage to begin with.

  11. K2 says:

    I’m not sure BB calling is own plays is the answer. He is no more capable than BA calling plays. He proved that when he ran the 2 minute drill this year and when he was trying to change the play call in the red zone. He was terrible!

  12. Doug Halfen says:

    How to win football games:


    Run the ball 30+ times. Establish the run, and wear out the teeth of the defense (line and backers). Eats a LOT of time!


    Pass the ball 15-20 _quality_ times (no garbage throws, please). Goal: 100% completion. A defense keyed on the run (even when in nickel or dime!) is easy to exploit, especially with play-action. (Wallace and Brown would FEAST.)

    Okay, Bruce: class dismissed. Better luck with your next job!

    (Will he become another orphan at Whisenhunt’s Home for Wayward Ex-Steelers?)

  13. Jim M says:

    LeBeau should be the next one to retire. Late game breakdowns have become a pattern, not an anomaly for the Steeler’s defense. Statistics don’t mean much when you can’t stop an opposing team from going 92 yards in under two minutes. The better teams have figured out how to attack Pittsburgh. It’s time to shake things up a bit. giving the other teams a different look ( a 4-3 base defense, for example) would add some difficulty to the other teams’ preparation.

  14. PetroSteel says:

    He needed to go. Why?
    1) Ben was not getting better 2) He doesn’t have control over Ben 3) Ben was telling him what to do and Ben is not capable of being an OC 4) The O under proformed

  15. Doug Halfen says:

    ^^^ My disagreement with blaming the defense: the OFFENSE has left too many plays and points on the field, stalling drives and extending opponents’ time-of-possession.

    All too frequently, our D reaches the sideline and is then trotting right back onto the field. You can only expect so much from a defense that’s left sucking wind because the damned offense can’t control the darned ball.

    (In fact, our D has bailed us out so often, they should start charging the offense…)

  16. Glenn says:

    I had a weekend long party to celebrate the departure of the love child of Forrest Gump and Rain Man! But it will be tarnished if Ben gets his way and the organization promotes from within. Art II saw what was happening. Ben was running the offense and while there was success in yardage, there was not success in points. This team needs a Coordinator, not a Puppet. Ben needs to stop being selfish and realize that he can still grow as a player and has more football to LEARN. This offense will continue to stagnate and Ben will continue to get physically beat up week in and week out if Tomlin doesn’t become a REAL coach and take control of this offense and this team.

  17. hammertime says:

    The Steelers are so popular, maybe the most popular team in the NFL today, but I for one am sick as hell of all these late games (8:00pm) we get on the schedule, if they don’t get but one Monday Night Football Game this year, that would be great, at Denver Broncos, one of the best ways to get this bad taste out of our mouths, is to go to where we got if from, Arians gone (good), NOW they are some players that need to go ASAP, No 1, James Farrior, one good play a game is not enough, he is finished, Will always love Hines Ward (times up) way too slow nowadays, please leave in grace, and don’t be (Franco Harris) you are already in the hall of fame, come back as a coach, thats it!! Arron Smith (goodby) great player, body has quit on him, McFadden should not have ever come back, what a waste, I would love to see Hoke come back, we never missed a beat with him in there!!! Love Batch, but either him or Leftwhich has to go ASAP, keep one or the other, not both!!! William Gay is hard to bear, you look ten times and he’s getting burned, blink, and he makes a good play, if somebody out there offers him big money as F/A, don’t fight it, let him walk, and last but not least, Mewelde Moore should have gotten his walking papers last year, If these few things could happen, I would feel better about the Steelers right now!!!!

  18. Scott P says:

    For all of the Arians apologists out there, consider this;

    Great Coordinators who help their team get to Superbowls become Head Coaches. Good Coordinators become assistant Head Coaches. Decent Coordinators whose contracts expire become coordinators elsewhere. Lousy coordinators become position coaches, analysts, or simply retire.

    Which category does Bruce fall in to? Jeff Fisher just chose the recently fired Brian Shottenheimer as his O.C. If Bruce was worth a flip don’t you think he would have at least been given an interview for that position?

    The rest of the league knows that he is terrible. He will never coordinate an NFL offense again.

  19. Scott P says:

    Kudos to Art Rooney ll for doing what Tomlin should have done years ago.

  20. psmith7716 says:

    Best to Bruce, but it is time for a change. Many of us want to get back to Steelers football, i.e. establish a running game. We “have” to be able to run the ball for touchdowns once we are inside the 5 yard line. Maybe we need to look outside the family for a new OC. Maybe we should check on the availability of Peyton Hillis. Now HE is a Steeler type runner.

  21. Scott P says:

    I just read an article from another newspaper regarding Arians. Here is an excerpt from that story;

    Consider that he still desired to become an NFL head coach, saying he applied for every open position last year but did not get an interview. Every time, someone younger prevailed, he said.

    “But I’d put my record up against any of them.”


  22. Rick says:

    It was time for a change. The offense dominated the Cleveland game and we won 13-9. We should’ve put that team away. That’s just one example. But it was an example of how I saw the season.

  23. Bsteel says:

    The following is excerpted from the Steel Mill blog above.

    [Arians touched on other topics as well.

    On Mike Tomlin: “My door is always open to him. I respect him a ton. I enjoyed our relationship and learned a lot. It was great watching him grow and working with him.”]

    Shouldn’t that be the other way around? What an ego! I’m sure that Coach Tomlin is humbled to know that BA’s door is always open to him in case he needs some more “growing.”

    On the next OC: This team is Super Bowl ready with an offense poised for greatness. Promoting from within is a nice Rooney/Steelers policy, but this offense needs a seasoned offensive mind, not someone just moving up the ladder. Fichtner and Kugler, and the WR coach are nice for a rebuilding team with a new coaching staff which the Steelers are not. Do you think that Ben is going to listen to them? Ben needs a boss and game manager, whether he likes it or not.

  24. Bsteel says:

    By the way, BA, you worked FOR Mike Tomlin.

  25. Glenn says:

    I’d like to know what 6-7 teams are interested in Arians [according to him]. Browns, Jax, Vikings, TB, Miami, .. I can’t even name a sixth. After Cleveland, I was reaching….

  26. hammertime says:

    Arians was right on one thing in his excerpt, Coach Tomlin is still in a growing pattern, if he don’t Man-Up this year, and act like he is in charge, he needs to go back somewhere else as a co-ordinator himself, too many times when things were falling apart this year, he just stands there with his mouth poked-out, this is not acceptable for the Head Coach, if we don’t make the Playoffs this year with this team, I hope the Rooneys buck tradition and send him Packing!!!!! Give me Jon Gruden any day, look at the piss poor game plans we had against some of the weaker teams in the league we played this year, Colts, Browns, KC, and the Bengals for that matter, FOLKS, we were not that far away from going 9-7, and if you watch any of those games, don’t tell me you were comfortable, it was like sitting on pins and needles, yeah, we got more issue’s alright, and our HEAD COACH is ONE!!!!!!!!

  27. David says:

    John Gruden would definitly fit the Steelers smash mouth style, hey I’m all for it…… no softies that ice cream melted and has gone sour, need new blood in here, fresh legs, this thing called comfortable has taken hold of this team, things should be as shakey here as it is in Indy, go get em Irsay… or dare I say!….

  28. Bob Loblaw says:

    To the person who suggested we switch to a 4-3 defense…. really?

    And so many people speculating on intangibles that you can’t judge from a television screen it’s not funny.

  29. DAME1971 says:

    HALEY would be a great fit for OC oc he wouldn’t let ben walk all ova him,he’d get right in bens face n challenge him.

  30. MarkV says:

    To quote a former winning qb with 4 Super Bowl titles “Did I mention that I called my own plays.” Maybe Ben should do the same. Better offensive linemen wouldn’t hurt either.

  31. David says:

    to everyone who wanted to see arians go, well he is gone now, and now i am reading on you being nosey as to which teams are calling him, well i ask myself, WHY? Why are u still concerned over a man who is no longer with the Steelers, ur wish came true, and now you still can’t let it go, just let it go, jeeshpers…. he is gone and youe still not happy with it….

  32. David says:

    Arians Offenses only went 22-8 the last two seasons, who the heck wouldn’t be calling him probly one of those teams that has only won 22 games the past 5 or 6 seasons,,, really, he will get picked up, if ex nfl coaches can land a job as a co ordinator on another team, believe me, we better hope it isn’t Cleveland calling him, or baltimore or cincy, he is free to sign where ever and what better teams then the teams in our division… THINK!.

  33. Bsteel says:

    So, David, let it go.

  34. Bsteel says:

    …and with his “defriending,” as noone knew by which name his passing should be called, the name, “Bruce Arians” was stricken from all Steelers records that it should not be remembered, nor shall it be spoken lest the curse of BA strike the speaker dumb. His office was burned, and salt strewn upon the ashes that nothing might grow there. And, if there had been a statue of Bruce Arians, his nose would have been chipped off.

    “If you will it, it is no dream”
    –Theodore Geisel

  35. Bsteel says:

    Wait a minute… wait a minute…yeah, I just had an idea! What about a Bruce Arians bobblehead doll? It doesn’t matter that he’s gone, it will be a big seller in Pittsburgh, and maybe a Smithsonian exhibit, too, as the only “bobblehead” that actually makes sense!

    What do ya think, entrepreneurs?

  36. jay says:

    The only way John Gruden would come to Pittsburgh is to be the head coach. I don’t see Tomlin resigning or the Rooneys pushing him out. So I think you are dreaming if you think he’d come here to be OC. Now Brian Billick may be a different story if he doesn’t get a HC gig. He’s won a Super Bowl, with a lame offense I know, but he did co-ordinate Minnesota who had like 500 zillion points scored and a 15-1 record with Duante Culpepper at QB. Think he may be able to put together some gameplans with Ben and the Young Money Boys? He’d probably never come here either but I think he is more realistic than Gruden.

  37. Little Louie says:

    When points don’t equate to yards gain, the offense has underachieved. This team had problems in the red zone all season. Arians had his chance. It’s time for some fresh ideas.

  38. Steve McCrae says:

    Arians system/play calling placed Ben in jeopardy too often. Although Ben loves to extend plays and throw down field, the Steelers need him to remain healthy. The Steelers must limit the number of plays that place their QB in jepardy. Arians was warned, but he didn’t change his ways. Ben will live longer, and the team will score more often with Ben’s progression into a more disciplined QB. The Steelers are not looking for drastic change, but they are looking for change. BA was not changing. BA is gone.

  39. 6 TONS OF STEEL says:

    BA sucked bottom line. I’m glad he got “ATTA TAHN.” We need to worry about the O-line upgraded and nothing more. Rooney fix the O-line with smart draft picks. I do believe our passing game is our strength but for heaven’s sake we need to pound the ball also. All starts with O-line.

  40. DAME1971 says:

    One thing the steelers don’t need is someone from within the org we need new blood

  41. hammertime says:

    WHO cares where Bruce Arians go, with the philosophy he use, he will just HOSE the next team up too!! Excuse me, but none of the teams in our division remind me of “AIR CORYELL” of San Diego fame, and none has the personnel on hand to play that style of OFFENSE anyway, the only person worried about ARIANS is whoever wrote he should be “FEARED” if he ends up in our division, somebody need something better to SMOKE!!!!!!

  42. New School StillerFan says:

    We don’t need an OC, we just need a couple of more running back coaches. Trade Ben and the wide receivers, get a warm body to hand the ball off on every down. Yinzers will be happy that we run the ball every down, “just like the Glory days of the 1970’s.” We will maybe win 2 games, but we can still blame BA and Big Ben because that’s what Yinzers do, hate franchise quarterbacks and people who advocate the passing game.

    We could maybe even use the money saved by cutting/trading the receivers to get more linebackers!!!

  43. Scott P says:

    Are you serious?? You truly think we should worry about Arians landing in the AFC North? Obviously you have forgotten that he has already worked for, and been fired by Cleveland. His offense could not run the ball there either. Their inability to run out the clock allowed the Steelers to overcome a 17 point 4th quarter deficit and beat the Browns in a playoff game.

    Sound familiar??

  44. SteelHeart says:

    JOHN ELWAY – if that is who BigBen looked up to, then BB should also know the history: Elway never won a Superbowl until he played within an offense that controlled the ball – in Denver’s case by running well ! Great defense and ball control win Championships; and that is what Steelers fans expect…

    For those knocking LeBeau — Lots of 3&Outs can kill any defense – even a LeBeau defense !

    and I gotta agree with #9 Doug Halfen – I still remember Buddy Ryan throwing a punch at the OC for doing the same dumb stuff while with the Oilers !

  45. David says:

    @Scott. Really!…..

  46. GC says:

    I am not sure about Kugler as OC, he has enough problems trying to get a good offense line together. I question some of the lineman they brought in. Not sold on Tomlin yet either. This man blurts out phrases that just don’t sound like normal conversation.

  47. Jeff M says:

    Not sad to see Arians go as while he was a solid OC and can’t argue with 12-4, let’s face it, they were the worst 12-4 team maybe in the history of the NFL. Look how many points they scored against teams at or over .500? Short answer is not many. Overall record against these teams was 4-5 including playoffs. Sorry, that does not get it done when trying to win a Super Bowl. New England had a bad defense but their O more than covered them, we could not do that. I know will probably get stoned saying this but have to agree that another fiasco from the defense this year and LeBeau needs to go. Don’t get excited about stats as we played 8 games against bad teams. Window to win Super Bowls can close quickly, that 92 yard drive against Baltimore was pitiful and cost us a bye week (which we needed). Defensive strategy against a lame passer like Tebow was just terrible…316 yards passing??? Really???

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