There’s no shortage of confusion surrounding the Steelers’ final choice to replace Bill Cowher, as ESPNs Chris Mortensen maintains Vikes defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin’s been offered the job, while the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mike Prisuta reports the club has chosen to elevate offensive line coach Russ Grimm (above). I have no idea which of the above versions is accurate, but how about Tomlin having to answer charges of tokenism before he’s officially assumed the position?

For those who might question Tomlin’s qualifications, dwill’s Sports On My Mind has ample background on the 34 year old. And while I have no stake in Pittsburgh’s decision, I’m encouraged that Mike Timlin isn’t one of the candidates.

(UPDATE : Fox Sports’ Fabien Barthez lookalike Jay Glazer reports that Tomlin was offered and accepted a 4 year, $10 million contract to be become just the 3rd Steelers head coach in the past million years.)
Congrats to former Falcons coach Jim Mora Jr., who finds himself inching ever closer to that coveted University Of Washington gig, if only in geographic terms.

The Boston Herald’s Mike Felger surveys the scene before tonight’s AFC Championship and surmises the visitors should have an easier time with the men in stripes than they did in their last meeting with Indy.

In the Colts™ 27-20 win over the Pats at Gillette Nov. 5, the Pats were flagged for six pass interference/illegal contact penalties, including one of offense. Clearly, the officials that day were more interested in a game resembling flag football than real football. Today™s referee is veteran Bill Carollo, whose regular-season crew threw the fourth-fewest flags. Carollo will have an œall-star crew for this game, meaning it will be rounded out by officials who graded out the highest during the regular season, which typically means they aren™t known for throwing frivolous flags.

In other words, the officiating crew should be favorable to the Pats.

Their own roster is another story.

Ty Law isn™t walking through that door tonight. Neither are Willie McGinest nor Roman Phifer. Rodney Harrison remains out with a knee injury. If the Pats are to return to the style that saw them drive the Colts into the ground in the 2003 AFC title game the 2004 divisional playoffs, they™ll be doing it with new faces such as linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, corner Ellis Hobbs and safeties James Sanders and Artrell Hawkins.

Meanwhile, left corner Asante Samuel is in having a career year. He™s playing with confidence and verve, and Patriots fans have been drawing comparisons to Law for months. But this is the money round for Samuel. He was torched by Harrison in 2005 and burnt by Wayne in November. If Samuel wants to get paid like the marquee free agent he thinks he is this offseason, he™ll have to shut some one down tonight.