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Steelers Archer leaves Steelers; Olsavsky candidate to coach linebackers

Saturday, January 18, 2003

By Ed Bouchette, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The Steelers are moving quickly to fill the vacancy created when Mike Archer left yesterday as linebackers coach to return to the University of Kentucky as defensive coordinator.

Jerry Olsavsky, a former starting linebacker for the Steelers and Pitt, will interview for Archer's job. He has been the assistant strength coach at the University of North Carolina, where he also helped coach the linebackers.

They also will consider hiring Darren Perry, another former Steeler, to coach the secondary and move secondary coach Willy Robinson to linebackers.

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Olsavsky, 35, spent several weeks assisting the Steelers in training camp the past summer, coaching the linebackers. The Steelers drafted the Youngstown, Ohio, native from Pitt in the 10th round in 1989, and he became a starter at inside linebacker for them. He played through 1997 with the Steelers and one more year with the Baltimore Ravens before he retired.

Perry, who played at Penn State, played eight NFL seasons as a safety, seven with the Steelers from 1992-98 and one with New Orleans in 2000. He spent his first season coaching the safeties for the Bengals last year.

Archer, 49, coached the Steelers' linebackers the past seven years and came from the University of Kentucky. He was Kentucky's linebackers coach and assistant head coach from 1993-95. He denied reports in Kentucky that he had accepted the coordinator's job for Wildcats Coach Rich Brooks last week, before the Steelers season ended.

Archer's son, Jeff, plays baseball at Kentucky and his daughter, Betsy, also attends the university.

"I have really enjoyed my seven years with the Steelers organization," said Archer, a State College native. "This was always a team I dreamed of working or playing for, and I fulfilled those dreams."

Archer was the youngest head coach in Division I-A when, at 34, he guided LSU to a 10-1-1 record and a Gator Bowl victory. He compiled a 27-18-1 record in four seasons with the Tigers.

While he was with the Steelers, five linebackers went to nine Pro Bowls -- Chad Brown, Levon Kirkland twice, Jason Gildon twice, Kendrell Bell and Joey Porter.

"Mike has made a valuable contribution to our success over the past seven seasons" Coach Bill Cowher said. "This is an excellent career opportunity for Mike, and we wish he and his family all the best."

Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3878.

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