Arizona taps Steelers' assistant as head coach
Ken Whisenhunt helped the Pittsburgh Steelers and their young quarterback win a Super Bowl.
Now he will take over for the Arizona Cardinals, where another youngster is at the controls of the offense, but the franchise has made losing a way of life for a long, long time.
The Cardinals hired Whisenhunt, Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator, yesterday to replace head coach Dennis Green, who was fired after going 16-32 in three seasons.
The 44-year-old coach signed a four-year contract with a team option for a fifth, and is to be introduced at a news conference tomorrow.
"In the end, we felt that Ken was the best fit for this organization," said Rod Graves, Cardinals vice president for football operations, "and we felt that because of the leadership that he portrayed. He presented a well-organized and thorough plan moving forward. We liked it."
Whisenhunt becomes the Cardinals' eighth coach since the franchise moved to Arizona in 1988. He was one of eight candidates interviewed for the job, but one of only two who got a second interview. The other was former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman.
He also interviewed for coaching jobs in Pittsburgh, Miami and Atlanta. Whisenhunt and fellow Pittsburgh assistant Russ Grimm had been considered leading candidates to replace Bill Cowher with the Steelers.
The other candidates interviewed by the Cardinals were Grimm, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow (a Punahou School alum), Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach-quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell and Cardinals defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.
Whisenhunt's second interview with Arizona began Friday and went into Saturday.
"It became apparent to us, particularly when we got into the second phase of our interview process, that Ken began to separate himself from the other candidates," Graves said.
The new coach inherits plenty of young talent, including quarterback Matt Leinart and a pair of the top receivers in the NFL, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.
Niners: San Francisco hired veteran assistant coach Al Everest to be its special teams coordinator yesterday. Everest spent last season as a consultant at Southern California after serving as the New Orleans Saints' special teams coordinator from 2000-05. He had the same job with the Arizona Cardinals the previous four years. Everest replaces Larry Mac Duff, who resigned Jan. 7 to become assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator at Texas.