Hartman: Trestman learned much from Grant

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 13, 2013 - 6:13 PM

The new Bears coach got his pro coaching start from the Vikings legend, then got a big break from the 49ers.

What some people don’t realize about the career of new Bears coach Marc Trestman, who will lead the team against the Vikings in Chicago on Sunday, is that the former Gophers and Moorhead State quarterback was retired from coaching when he left the Vikings staff at the end of the 1991 season. Then-49ers coach George Seifert convinced him to come back and be his offensive coordinator for the 1995-1996 season.

Trestman was in the financial advising business in Miami at the time. Having known him even before his high school playing days at St. Louis Park, I was one of many friends who tried to talk Trestman out of going back into coaching.

“I never thought about getting back into football,” he said. “I made my mind up that I was going to change the way I was going to live my life and raise my kids and I was really geared towards trying to build a business and be a better husband and a better father.

“It just kind of came to me. I didn’t try to go get it. A sequence of events took place and all of a sudden I was in San Francisco and I couldn’t really answer how it happened, because I didn’t try to make it happen. But I’m certainly grateful that it did.”

Trestman was on the Vikings staff two different times, as running backs coach during the 1985-86 season under Bud Grant and as quarterbacks coach in 1990-91 under Jerry Burns. Both Grant and Burns told me many times that they had never encountered a young coach with a greater football mind than Trestman, who talked about how much Grant helped him launch his pro coaching career after he had only coached college football at Miami from 1981-84.

“Obviously I had a chance to be in training camp a couple of times and experience how [Grant] coached and how he worked,” Trestman said. “Then to be able to go coach for him, he certainly saw something in me that, at that age, I didn’t see in myself. I just trusted him and learned so much by working with him and for him.”

So how does Trestman feel about getting to be an NFL head coach with the Bears and going up against his hometown team in a great rivalry game?

“Over the years I’ve had a chance to play against them many times, and certainly it is going to be great playing them here on Sunday, no doubt about it,” he said. “It’s still about our football team and getting better as a football team and playing a great opponent. We’re excited about it here.”

Trestman was head coach of the Montreal Alouettes from 2008-2012, winning the Grey Cup in 2009 and 2010, before being hired by the Bears in January. Overall he is in his 29th year of coaching, 18 of them in the NFL.

Trestman said his new position doesn’t necessarily feel different from other stints in his career.

“I understand how expansive it is, or the perspective of being a head coach, and I’m appreciative of it,” he said. “But what I really try to do is just work every day and stay focused on the job that I have to help the team. I really haven’t gotten caught up in the wide spectrum and visibility of the position. I’m just working here every day to do my administrative and football stuff and continue to serve the guys and get them in position to have success.”

Believe me, having been around him a great deal over the years, no coach in college or the NFL gets more respect from other coaches than Trestman. The Bears are lucky to have him, because he will be a winner.

Tough injury loss for U

The torn ACL suffered by Gophers junior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun against New Mexico State on Saturday that put him out for rest of the football season could be a big blow to the strength of the team’s pass defense.

Coach Jerry Kill said Boddy-Calhoun’s loss is serious because “he probably was playing at the highest level of any defensive back except Brock Vereen. He is a great kid and it’s hard to see something like that happen, but that is part of the game. The positive part is we are talking and he will get another year back or should, so he will have two more years, but it is certainly a blow.”

What might help the Gophers’ passing game against Western Illinois on Saturday is the return to action of wide receiver Jamel Harbison, who was one of the best receivers on the team until he tore an ACL against UNLV in the first game last season.

Western Illinois is 2-0, but the opposition has been Hampton and Quincy. No one is saying the team, coached by former Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs mentor Bob Nielson, has beat any type of power program, but the Leathernecks have allowed only 15 points in two games and forced 10 turnovers.


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