There are lots of reason we love having our headquarters in Pittsburgh. Number One: Carnegie Mellon is here. As a data mining company, there is no better source of the kind of talent and technology we need to build our business. The restaurant scene has improved immensely and the arts are wildly underrated. And, it’s really fun to be in a city with such a rich sports tradition.

Even though the vast majority of our research is national, we collect a lot of data in Pittsburgh and, mostly just for fun, like to gauge real-time local sentiment about the sports teams, their management, and their coaches. So, with a disappointing Steelers season behind us, we thought we would look at the peaks and valleys of Coach Mike Tomlin’s popularity among fans. As we’ve highlighted previously, Pittsburgh sports fans are short-sighted and fickle, if anything. This is particularly true for Coach Tomlin.

Every day, year-round, we ask around 100 local fans to weigh in on the job Coach Tomlin is doing (we do the same for Dan Bylsma, Clint Hurdle, and each of the GMs). Before the 2012 season began, Tomlin enjoyed a love fest with Pittsburgh fans:

opinion of Pittsburgh Steelers coach

In the week before the season opener against Denver, 83% of respondents had a positive view of Tomlin with a whopping 55% holding a Very Positive view. The day after that opening loss to the Broncos, Very Positive responses dipped to 38% but then rebounded to 64% following the Week 2 win over the New York Jets, the highest highest it would reach all year.

Over the course of the season, public sentiment rose and fell almost weekly. See below.

timeline of opinion of the pittsburgh steelers

During the middle part of the season, following wins against Cincinnati, Washington, the Giants, and Kansas City, Tomlin enjoyed high Very Positive numbers in the 50s. Numbers slowly dipped following losses to Baltimore and Cleveland in November (though it’s hard to blame Tomlin for Ben Roethlisberger getting hurt), before surging to 59% following Charlie Bath’s heroic win against the Ravens on December 2nd. That positive feeling was short-lived, however, as numbers again plummeted after losses to the Chargers, Cowboys, and Bengals. Following that Bengals loss, Tomlin saw his lowest numbers on Christmas Day with a Very Positive rating of just 15%. A meaningless win against the Browns in the season finale provided a small increase that quickly settled.

With a full week to reflect on the season, we looked at how fans feel about Tomlin’s coaching job now. Below are the results from the past week:

opinion of pittsburgh steelers coach several months later

Despite the lackluster season, a majority of Steelers fans (51%) still hold Tomlin in a positive light, with a full quarter still viewing his performance as Very Positive. This represents a drop of 30 points in Very Positive and an overall positive drop of 32 points since the beginning of the season.

Still, when it comes to Steelers fans, hope springs eternal. It may take only a few weeks of emotional recovery or a great NFL draft in April to push Tomlin’s numbers back to the top. We’ll keep tracking these numbers throughout the year and report back.

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