When Ken Anderson retired just days after the 2009 season ended, Coach Mike Tomlin knew he would have to find a new quarterbacks coach. It turns out he didn't have to look much farther than down the hall.
Randy Fichtner, hired by Tomlin to coach the wide receivers in 2007, has been moved to quarterbacks coach. The change in job description means Fichtner goes from Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Mike Wallace to working with Ben Roethlisberger and Dennis Dixon, with Charlie Batch currently without a contract.
"Randy has extensive experience coaching quarterbacks on the collegiate level, some of whom had pro opportunities," said Tomlin. "He has a familiarity with how we do business. He has a personal relationship with Ben. It's a natural, a seamless transition for us."
Before being hired by Tomlin as part of his initial staff of assistants, Fichtner coached quarterbacks at three different places in the college ranks – from 1990-93 at Memphis, from 1997-2000 at Arkansas State and from 2001-06 at Memphis when he also was the offensive coordinator.
On the surface, the move from coaching college quarterbacks to NFL quarterbacks might seem to be a simple one based on the talent differential, but it also can be seen as more challenging because of the status the successful professionals enjoy.
"It's all difficult. It all has its challenges," said Tomlin about coaching superstars. "It depends on the mentality of the guy. I think Ben sees himself as an average guy, so it's a non-issue."