Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/25/12

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 27: Mike Tomlin the Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers is pictured during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

That stability succeeds in the NFL was accentuated again on Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Steelers signed coach Mike Tomlin to a three-year contract extension that, barring the unexpected, will keep him with the club through at least 2016.

The extension was hardly unexpected. And it came in typical Steelers' low-key fashion, announced in a ho-hum press release on the eve of training camp, with little fanfare, even though it had been in the works for months.

It was business as usual for the Steelers, and the three-year add-on reinforced the notion that the business of winning in the NFL usually comes with a veteran coach attached to it.

Over the past five seasons, just 11 of 60 playoff teams in that stretch had head coaches who were in their initial year with the franchise. Four of the 11 had prior head coach experience in the league. The average tenure with a franchise for the 60 playoff coaches 2007-2011 was 4.8 seasons. Twenty-six men in the group had five or more seasons with their team, and eight had logged 10 or more years.

Sure, every so often there are exceptions -- like the Harbaugh brothers, John in Baltimore in 2008 and Jim in San Francisco last season, each of whom advanced to a division championship game in his first year on the job -- but not often. In four of the last five seasons, at least two teams advanced to the postseason with first-year head coaches. That's the good news for the seven coaches who begin their first full years with clubs this week, when training camps open.

The bad news is that experience more frequently prevails.

Not since 2002, when the Tampa Bay Bucs claimed Super Bowl XXXVII with Jon Gruden calling the shots, has a franchise won a championship in a season with the head coach in his first year with the team.

"There's something to be said for 'been there and done that,' you know?" said New York Giants' defensive end Justin Tuck, in referring to coach Tom Coughlin, who will start his ninth season with the club and has won to Super Bowls. "There's a program in place, everybody knows what's expected of him, everybody knows what to do. There's no 'breaking in' period."

Tomlin won a title in his second season with the Steelers, the youngest coach ever to win a Super Bowl (36), but allowed this spring that there "was a lot of growing up" between his first and second years in Pittsburgh. In an offseason that has included some degree of upheaval in Pittsburgh, with the elimination of several key veterans and the inherent loss of leadership they provided in the locker room, Tomlin likely is more a key than ever, and Pittsburgh brass essentially acknowledged that.

"(Stability) is certainly the hope," team president Art Rooney II told the team's Web site after the extension announcement. "That's part of the thinking, that you're hiring someone who can be here a long time. ... Our goal in hiring Mike, and our belief, was that he was the kind of person we would be comfortable having (as) our coach for the long term."

As detailed in the column here two weeks ago, Tomlin is only the third coach in 44 seasons for the Steelers, joining Hall of Famer Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher in that select group. Fittingly, each of the men won Super Bowl titles and the Steelers have been in the playoffs in 27 of the previous 43 seasons. That includes fourth playoff berths, and two Super Bowl appearances, under Tomlin.

In the first 36 seasons of franchise history, Pittsburgh employed 14 different coaches, only one of whom lasted more than four seasons with the team, and the club never went to the playoffs. Once a revolving door for coaches, Pittsburgh has essentially slammed the door on any potential Tomlin departure and, despite the predictions for a down season in 2012, kept open the window for another possible Super Bowl run in his tenure.

Rooney on Tuesday termed the situation "a good working environment." The results over the past five seasons suggest that teams in the NFL would do well to replicate the kind of environment that fosters continuity.

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