PITTSBURGH - It's been a challenging year for a lot of Pittsburgh Steelers, and you can put Mike Tomlin's name at the top of the list.
There wasn't anything good about last Sunday's meltdown against San Diego. It's a long season and an unexpected stinker now and then is inevitable. (New England lost to Arizona earlier this year.)
But the Chargers debacle was the Steelers' second lousy game in three weeks. Before a feel-good win at Baltimore, the Steelers blew a slam dunk in Cleveland.
This has been an unusual Steelers season because it's a year of transition. They're at a point where some past draft mistakes are biting them.
But that's no excuse for the apathy the team showed for most of the day against San Diego.
The effort has to be a lot better to claim the playoff spot that's sitting on a tee for the Steelers. It's up to the head coach to make sure that happens.
Generally speaking, the world needs another Steelers book like it needs another Kardashian.
That said, former newspaper reporter Chuck Finder has come up with a solid effort in "The Steelers Encyclopedia," published by Temple University Press.
Rather than rely on previous histories, Finder interviewed more than 100 people and came up with fresh material. It's an informative book that any Steelers fan should appreciate.
Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice, a former Pitt assistant who also served as head coach at Robert Morris, got into some trouble.
Rutgers suspended Rice for three games without pay, and fined him $50,000. The university said Rice was in violation of department policies, specifically exhibiting inappropriate language and behavior during practice.
Good for Rutgers. Coaches routinely get away with verbal abuse that would never be tolerated in a classroom setting. You can argue that sports aren't the same as the biology lab, but they're both under the supervision of a university.
A lot of bad coaching behavior is rationalized as "intensity" and "competitiveness." Yet if someone tried those antics in the real world, they'd at least be ridiculed and probably reprimanded.
Imagine the salesman who makes his pitch, but gets turned down by a potential client. Is it OK if he tosses his briefcase, swears loudly and kicks the desk? Of course not.
Yet Bob Knight's "competitive nature" is celebrated when he throws a chair across the court because an official's call has displeased him.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com