- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Even though the Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh is the coach of the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin will end up being the more successful coach. Well, that's according to the SportsNation poll voters.
In a poll that drew 16,450 votes, Tomlin received 54 percent of the vote while Harbaugh garnered 41 percent (5 percent was undecided). Their bodies of work are very comparable. Harbaugh has the better winning percentage. Tomlin has won more division titles. And both have one Super Bowl ring.
Here are the arguments for Tomlin:
Matt from Berlin, N.H.: Tomlin will easily have the better career. Steelers coaches have longevity. Being that Tomlin will be coaching the Steelers, a team with one of the highest winning percentages in the NFL, for at least another 10-plus years allows him several more opportunities than Harbaugh. Steelers have been rebuilding for about three years, so missing the playoffs shouldn't count against Tomlin. The Ravens are entering a rebuilding era with the loss of many players and a salary-cap hit with Joe Flacco's ridiculous contract. Let's touch on this subject again in five years.
Mitch from Baltimore: Head to head, Tomlin leads with a 7-5 record. Three of Harbaugh's wins came with the benefit of not having to face Ben Roethlisberger. One of Tomlin's wins came without Roethlisberger as well. Advantage: Overwhelmingly Tomlin.
Lawrence from Texas: Mike Tomlin is a better and smarter coach than John Harbaugh. Tomlin has a way of gaining respect from his players. The Steelers have had their shortfalls, but will pick up their swagger this season. They will win the AFC North and proceed to the Super Bowl.
James from Laredo, Texas: Jamison, a disclaimer is warranted, I am a huge Steelers Fan as I am from Pennsylvania. That said, I have enormous respect for the Ravens and Coach Harbaugh. I believe in 10 to 15 years, Tomlin will have the better record and more championships, for two reasons. I think the Steelers' front office has proven to be the reference standard in all sports, and I think the Steelers have more depth (at this time).
Brenda from Pittsburgh: I agree that in recent seasons Harbaugh has been more consistent but, these coaches have met twice in the playoffs both going in Tomlin's favor. This is absolutely something that cannot be overlooked. Regular season success is important but playoff success defines greatness
Here are the arguments for Harbaugh:
Andy from Hagerstown, Md.: Tomlin's future is tied to an aging core, while the Ravens have retooled and have much younger stars to ride. Additionally, the Ravens have historically drafted better than the Steelers. When all is said and done John Harbaugh will be more accomplished.
Zach from Fairfax, Va.: Although I'm a huge Steelers fan, I think Harbaugh is the better coach. Tomlin inherited a good team from Bill Cowher and won a Super Bowl with that team. Harbaugh inherited a mediocre team from Brian Billick and turned them into Super Bowl champs. The distinction has come over the last couple of years where the Steelers have gradually been declining, while the Ravens have gotten better and better, even in years when they're not supposed to.
Stephen from El Dorado, Ark.: Ability-wise I'd say it's a toss-up between the two coaches but I believe Harbaugh has the edge because of his QB and GM. Tomlin will be searching for a franchise QB much sooner than Harbaugh due to Big Ben's age and injuries. Also, Kevin Colbert's penchant for mortgaging the future with contract restructures and overall roster age means Steelers are due to pay the price and turn the roster over in the next few years. Meanwhile, Ozzie Newsome remains the best in the biz and always a step ahead.
Benji from San Antonio: Harbaugh over Tomlin. He inherited a 5-11 team that was seven years removed from a Super Bowl and turned it around. His handling of players during the mutiny, his decision to go with unproven talents like Justin Tucker, Corey Graham, and his decision to replace his offensive coordinator late in the season paid off for him.
A. Hall from Queretaro, Mexico: Harbaugh may occasionally quote former generals, but Tomlin actually believes he is one. Both guys are demanding of their teams, but where Harbaugh has made adjustments in his style to gain the trust of his team and unify the locker room -- with success following -- we may already be seeing signs that Tomlin's unwavering tough-guy approach begins to wear thin as the seasons wear on.
5hEric D. Williams