Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin ('95) is the youngest head coach to have ever won a Super Bowl, and the William & Mary alum credits his experiences with the Tribe for helping get him there.
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"This place was central to my growth and development and really gave me the tools to do the things that I do on a day-to-day basis," Tomlin said in a video interview compilation created by the Tribe Athletics Department. During the interview -- conducted during Tomlin's visits to campus last year -- Tomlin recalls his time at William & Mary and discusses how its people, like Football Head Coach Jimmye Laycock, influenced his life.
"I love Coach Laycock, I love him now. I loved him then," said Tomlin "He had a quiet confidence about him. He was very professional. His passion for the game showed through even though he was a somewhat reserved personality. I wanted to be like him, and that's probably one of the reasons I got into professional coaching."
Tomlin said he decided on William & Mary because of both its academic and athletic reputations. The sociology major said that William & Mary's high academic standards helped push him and his fellow students to a higher level of success "because on a day-to-day basis, it's a proving ground," he said.
"I think that's why so many young people that come to this university and through this athletic department are successful in whatever they choose to do," he said.
A native of nearby Newport News, Tomlin wore the No. 4 at the College and went on to become a three-year starter at wide receiver for William & Mary from 1990-94. He finishined his Tribe football career with 101 receptions for 2,046 yards and 20 touchdown receptions. A leader even during his collegiate years, Tomlin was named as the squad's co-captain his senior season (1994 and earned First-Team All-Yankee Conference honors that season). He graduated with a pair of school records in career yards per catch (19.6) and single-season average per reception (25.5).
Last year, Tomlin served as the speaker at the College's commencement ceremony, and, a month later, he returned to Williamsburg to help dedicate the Jimmye Laycock Football Center. Tomlin's Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in a thrilling, come-from-behind Super Bowl victory on Feb. 1. The athletics department has created Facebook group called "Tribe 4 Tomlin," to showcase the video and other Tomlin news and information items for W&M alumni, students, faculty and staff .
It's clear that no matter the amount of success he achieves in the NFL, Tomlin will never forget his Tribe.
"Because of my experiences here, the people I met, the way I was able to grow personally, I feel a sense of obligation (to William & Mary)," Tomlin said.
"Let's go Tribe!"