Former Steelers coach Austin dies
Bill Austin, a Vince Lombardi disciple who failed to produce a winning record in three seasons as the Steelers' coach from 1966-68, has died at age 84 in his home in Las Vegas.
Austin was a longtime NFL coach and player who also served as the Redskins' head coach for one season.
With young Dan Rooney beginning to assert more control in the Steelers' front office, the team broke from tradition and hired Austin — an assistant coach best known for his six years and two NFL titles on Lombardi's Packers staff — as their head coach in 1966.
Austin succeeded Mike Nixon, who had gone 2-12 in his only season as the Steelers' coach in 1965.
Despite trying to transform an organization that had long relied on veteran players and eschewed the draft for building a roster, Austin went only 11-28-3 as the Steelers' coach.
“Bill Austin was a great contributor to the growth of the National Football League as both a Pro Bowl lineman and coach,” Rooney, the Steelers' chairman, said Thursday in a statement. “He was highly recommended for the Pittsburgh Steelers' head coaching job by Vince Lombardi, who Austin served as the line coach for in Green Bay and Washington. Austin was an excellent person when he coached for Pittsburgh and our condolences go out to his family. He will be missed.”
Despite Austin's lack of success, the Steelers went out and hired another assistant coach off a successful team to replace him: Chuck Noll, who went on to deliver the first four NFL championships in Steelers history.
Austin went on to succeed Lombardi as the Redskins' coach in 1970 after Lombardi died of cancer just before the start of the season, but finished 6-8 and was replaced by George Allen the following season.
Austin was a member of the Giants' 1956 NFL championship team and was a Pro Bowl guard in 1954 during a playing career that lasted seven seasons. He coached for eight NFL teams — mostly as an offensive line coach — and another in the USFL, concluding his career with the Jets in 1985.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Stupid Steelers
- Steelers running backs Bell, Blount will face drug charges
- It’s only exhibition, but these Steelers could solidify roster spots vs. Eagles
- Commitment by Steelers’ Gilbert pays off
- Rossi: Blount brings back Steelers’ swagger
- Run game not primary focal point for Steelers
- Steelers re-sign Keisel to bolster depth on defensive line
- Steelers are hoping to mirror Eagles’ full-bore, no-huddle offense
- Steelers like what Bell, Blount bring to the team’s running game
- Steelers sign tackle Gilbert to $30 million deal
- Rookie LB Shazier impresses in Steelers debut