New Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner OK with criticism that comes with role
At the pinnacle of his profession of coaching offensive football, Randy Fichtner's newest gig has got to be one of his dream jobs.
But it also has the potential to make him the least-liked man in Pittsburgh.
When it comes to job approval rating in this town, "Steelers offensive coordinator" can sometimes rank somewhere between "parking-ticket writer" and "telemarketing caller."
"I get it," Fichtner said after the first day of Steelers minicamp Tuesday. "And when you seek that position, that's the role that's got to land on your shoulders."
Fichtner was promoted from quarterbacks coach to coordinator (he now holds both roles) in January after Todd Haley's contract was not renewed. Since then, he's already taken some suggestions from those closest to him.
"Occasionally Nate, my son, will show me some things that all of a sudden my niece sent from Ohio about a specific play that was on Play Station or something," Fichtner said. "'So why don't you do it?'"
Though this is the first time Fichtner has been a coordinator in the NFL, he did serve in that role for 10 seasons in college. Being a coordinator from 1997-2000 at Arkansas State and 2001-06 at Memphis taught him something about how fans always assume they can do a better job at calling plays.
"And that's fine," Fichtner said. "In college, you tailgate with the booster group after the games, and that's the support group that helps you out – and your wife and your (young) kids… running around and having a blast.
"But then all of a sudden, 'Oops, we didn't play so well today.' And all of a sudden there's these little comments. It wasn't quite as great an affair after the game. But I am still going to go, and we're still going to be here."
Fichtner reiterated that a gameplan and playcalling is a collective effort among the entire offensive coaching staff leading up to a game.
"We will do it with thoughtful mind and hard work. And we're going to attempt to put our players on the field with the best opportunity to have success."
So, do the talk-show callers and stadium hecklers get to Fichtner?
"I have always said this: 'Hey, you're the true fan and you've been with us the whole time, from birth and all that, and you buy a ticket to the stadium, and you have never wavered? Then you have the right (to criticize).'"
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.