PITTSBURGH - The surprise isn't that Bruce Arians is out as Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator.
But rather it's the un-Steelers like path he took to retirement at age 59.
There's a pile of circumstantial evidence to suggest this decision was reached in a way that isn't the Steelers' customary way of doing business.
We know that Arians said he wanted to come back, and that Mike Tomlin apparently wanted him to return.
The first bit of doubt was cast when team president Art Rooney II revealed that some "senior" coaches were contemplating retirement.
Given that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, 74, had agreed to come back, that left Arians.
If Tomlin wanted Arians to return, who didn't?
Most signs point to Rooney, who has a lot of money, a lifelong connection to the team and no background in coaching.
If you carry the title of team president, you get to call the shots. But the system that's worked for the Steelers for a long time is to hire talented people and let them do their jobs.
There's almost always a Rooney on the premises at Steelers headquarters. Dan Rooney, 79, has run himself rugged traveling from his post as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland back to the U.S. to catch Steelers games.
Even though he visits the locker room the way his father did, Dan Rooney usually doesn't meddle.
You knew the Chuck Noll era was ending when Dan Rooney ordered Noll to fire some assistant coaches after the team went 5-11 in 1988.
But Tomlin's team is coming off a 12-4 season. Yes, the Steelers had a hugely disappointing loss in the playoffs, but there were also significant injury issues that started in the last month of the season.
Forcing out a coordinator after a .750 season is something you'd expect from Jerry Jones, not a Rooney.
But Arians is gone, and now the focus is on finding his replacement.
Wonder if Art Rooney II will make himself part of that process?
We're occasionally told that some Pittsburgh Penguins players think Sidney Crosby should try to play, even though he's having concussion symptoms.
No names are ever attached to the rumors, of course, which begs the question:
Which players would feel confident enough to question the commitment of a teammate who lives in the owner's house?
Makes you wonder if the supposed whispers aren't more imagined than real.
Not even close
It goes under the radar because Pitt's women basketball doesn't get headlines, but the Lady Panthers lost last week to Notre Dame, 120-44.
Unless half the players stayed on the bus, that's almost impossible.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org