The Bears took a swing for the fences by choosing Marc Trestman to be the 14th head coach in team history, an NFL source told the Tribune early Wednesday.
The Bears made it official with a news release shortly after 4 a.m. Trestman will be introduced Thursday at a 10 a.m. news conference.
Trestman is a somewhat unconventional choice, having been out of the NFL for eight years. But he also is a proven winner, having won back-to-back Grey Cup championships as coach of the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. Trestman has a 64-34 record in five years as a head coach.
In addition to having head coaching experience, Trestman is a quarterback guru who has spent most of his professional life coaching passers. Clearly, he is being brought to the Bears to get the most out of Jay Cutler and whoever else lines up under center during his tenure.
Trestman, 57, was Bernie Kosar’s quarterbacks coach at the University of Miami in 1983, when the Hurricanes won the national championship. In the NFL, Kosar, Steve Young, Scott Mitchell, Jake Plummer and Rich Gannon played well under Trestman’s guidance. Gannon won the 2002 Most Valuable Player award while being coached by Trestman on the Raiders.
“The skill set that Marc has, being an offensive mind, and then his great relationships that he's had with quarterbacks historically in the NFL and the work he's done with them makes him a good fit for the job,” Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said.
“A lot of guys want to be head coaches. Some leave the NFL to go to NCAA schools, and then once they've proven themselves, all of a sudden those college coaches are some of the hot commodities to be an NFL coach. It's no different. Coach Trestman has run a professional team as a head coach for five years. He's had a winning record for five years. He's proven himself as a head coach at a professional level. You can call it what you want, but on-hand training as a head coach and proof goes a long way, goes a real long way. You can't replace that.”
Trestman should know what he is getting into with Cutler. As a consultant, he worked with Cutler to prepare him for the 2006 combine. Among other players he worked with before their drafts are Jason Campbell and Tim Tebow.
Trestman’s appointment should not come as a surprise to Fox analyst Jimmy Johnson, who was Trestman’s boss at the University of Miami. Johnson tweeted Jan. 11 that it “looks like” Trestman would be getting the Bears job.
Trestman was one of 13 known candidates to be interviewed for Lovie Smith's old position. While Trestman, Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell received second interviews, Emery's final decision is believed to have come down to Trestman vs. Arians. Eight of the candidates had offensive backgrounds.
Trestman's final interview was Monday. Arians and Bevell met with Emery on Tuesday. None of the coaches knew Emery's decision until early Wednesday morning.
Interestingly, Smith nearly hired Trestman in 2004 when he was looking for an offensive coordinator. Instead, Smith settled on Terry Shea, and Trestman became Dave Wannstedt’s quarterbacks coach with the Dolphins.
Trestman also interviewed for the Browns’ head coaching vacancy this month, as well as the Raiders’ offensive coordinator position. Last year, he interviewed for the Colts’ head coaching job.
Trestman is known for a cerebral, measured approach.
“One thing about him that is a strength is his ability to listen,” Gannon said. “He takes feedback. Marc has always been the type of guy who can sit down with you and talk about things. What do you like about this? What don’t you like? His feedback is excellent. And he has an ability to be honest with you. Somebody needs to be honest with Jay Cutler.”
Trestman’s plans for the defense are unknown, but there’s a good chance he will retain coordinator Rod Marinelli and some of the other defensive assistants. Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates also is a possibility to stay. Trestman previously worked with Bates’ father, Jim.
Trestman played quarterback at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State-Moorhead. He was with the Vikings for two training camps as a defensive back.
Trestman also graduated from the University of Miami School of Law and has been a member of the Florida bar since 1983. He took a few years away from coaching in the early ‘90s to practice law. He is the author of the book “Perseverance: Life Lessons on Leadership and Teamwork.”