Minnesota-born Trestman a rookie NFL head coach -- finally

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 15, 2013 - 9:03 AM

Only now, at age 57, has Marc Trestman become an NFL head coach. Those who have worked with him have just one thing to say: About time.

hide

Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman walks around the field before a preseason NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Chicago.

Photo: CHARLES REX ARBOGAST • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

To this day, Bud Grant still can’t answer the question. Neither can Rich Gannon or Bernie Kosar or Jon Gruden, or anyone else on the long list of luminaries who wonder why it took nearly 30 years for Marc Trestman to become a head coach in the NFL.

Trestman used to wonder, too, during 17 seasons as an NFL assistant with eight teams. But long before last January — when the discussion began anew, after he was hired at age 57 to coach the Chicago Bears — the St. Louis Park native had begun to see things in a new light. Fretting about his long wait wasn’t going to get him any closer to his dream job. Instead, Trestman came to believe that each twist in his circuitous career path was molding him into a man worthy of leading an NFL team, sustaining his faith that he would eventually get there.

Armed with that fresh outlook, he stopped worrying about the end and put his mind to the means. Nine years removed from his last NFL job, Trestman has become a more outwardly focused person, guiding the Bears into Sunday’s game against his hometown Vikings with a confident and compassionate hand.

His five-season tenure as a head coach in the Canadian Football League enhanced Trestman’s reputation as an offensive savant known for his way with quarterbacks. That made him an intriguing choice for the offensively challenged Bears and underachieving signal-caller Jay Cutler. Trestman already has earned high praise from his players — and the game ball after a 24-21 victory over Cincinnati in his debut last week.

Some have considered the former Gophers quarterback an unusual fit in Chicago; reed-thin and bespectacled, with a scholarly manner and a self-help author’s vocabulary, he comes off as the anti-Mike Ditka. None of that will matter if Trestman can lead the Bears to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. In that regard, they might be the perfect match: a franchise pining for an unfulfilled ambition, paired with a coach grateful for the chance to realize his own.

“Having looked back at the journey, I think I understand,’’ Trestman said last month, just after the Bears broke camp. “I have a much better perspective on it now than I ever would have had if this had happened 10 or 12 years ago. The wait was very much worthwhile, because all those experiences go into making you the person you are and the coach you are.

“I have complete appreciation for this moment and respect for why it took so long. People say this all the time: If you want to get to where you want to go, just stay focused on what you’re doing, put your heart into it and don’t worry about the returns. This came, really, out of nowhere. But really, it came out of hope and passion.’’

Not to mention persistence.

“I never did understand why he wasn’t hired earlier than this,’’ Grant said. “I’m glad he’s got this opportunity now. He’s certainly paid the price.’’

‘Quarterback whisperer’

Had Trestman listened to Grant, he might be practicing law or selling municipal bonds, rather than roaming Soldier Field. When Grant hired him to coach the Vikings’ running backs in 1985 — the first NFL entry on Trestman’s voluminous résumé — he warned him that coaching is a sure ticket to a vagabond life.

He couldn’t have predicted that Trestman would become the ultimate football nomad. As a young law student at the University of Miami, Trestman convinced Howard Schnellenberger to make him a volunteer assistant in 1981; since then, he has coached for 12 different teams, in two countries, in the CFL, NFL and college. He served as a quarterbacks coach during most of that time, with stints as offensive coordinator for Cleveland, San Francisco, Arizona and Oakland.

Nicknamed “the quarterback whisperer’’ for his extraordinary rapport with players at that position, Trestman has made them the engines of his dynamic, complex and inventive offenses. The Bears’ new, hefty playbook can trace its roots all the way back to St. Louis Park, inside the mind of a boy who dreamed in X’s and O’s.

Trestman’s father, Jerry, owned a restaurant and bar on Chicago Avenue — just blocks from where the Metrodome would later be built — and played in a band. Marc helped out at the restaurant and shared his dad’s love for music and football. When he wasn’t designing plays for neighborhood street games, Marc was scrutinizing the Vikings with Jerry, imitating a coach long before he thought of becoming one.

Trestman played three seasons with the Gophers, backing up quarterback Tony Dungy, and transferred to then Moorhead State for his senior season. His playing career ended when he failed to stick with the Vikings, who twice brought him to training camp as a defensive back. Though Trestman was admitted to the Florida bar in 1983, he left the law behind, parlaying his volunteer job at Miami into a full-time gig as quarterbacks coach.

Two years later — based on Trestman’s work with Kosar, who led Miami to the national championship in 1983 — Grant came calling.

“I remembered what a good athlete he was,’’ said Grant, whose son Mike played against Trestman in high school. “And he was eager to learn.’’

He was not convinced he had found his life’s purpose. After coaching in Tampa Bay and Cleveland, Trestman returned to the Vikings as quarterbacks coach in 1990, then was let go by new coach Dennis Green in 1992. Trestman moved to Florida and sold municipal bonds, figuring he was done with the game.

  • related content

  • Souhan: Musgrave and Ponder need to show us something

    Sunday September 15, 2013

    In a league where young quarterbacks are thriving, there should be no training wheels.

  • Chart: Marc Trestman at a glance

    Saturday September 14, 2013

    ABOUT TRESTMANAge: 57Hometown: St. Louis ParkFamily: wife, Cindy; daughters Sarahanne and ChloeEducation: Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University...

  • Chart: Trestman's coaching travels

    Saturday September 14, 2013

    Marc TRESTMAN’S COACHING TRAVELS1981-82: Volunteer assistant coach, University of Miami1983-84: Quarterbacks coach, University of Miami1985-86: Running backs coach, Vikings1987: Quarterbacks...

  • The Call: Vikings at Chicago

    Saturday September 14, 2013

    The Vikings are 1-11 in their past 12 games in Chicago, and recent meetings haven’t been particularly close.

  • it’s not the lombardi trophy but ... Marc Trestman won two Grey Cups as head coach of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 FINAL
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 75 FINAL
Portland 94
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 2 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 3
Montreal 3 FINAL(SO)
Los Angeles 4
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
UAB 59 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC A&T 58 FINAL
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 78 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 80 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 52 FINAL
Drake 50
Cal State Fullerton 62 FINAL
UC Irvine 68
CS-Northridge 58 FINAL
Long Beach State 69
UC Riverside 59 FINAL
UC Davis 61
Stanford 62 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Utah 67 FINAL
Washington St 59
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
UCLA 80
FIU 30 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC A&T 67 FINAL
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 78 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Cal-Irvine 54 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 66
Long Beach St 60 FINAL
CS-Northridge 77
Hawaii 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 36
UC Davis 56 FINAL
UC-Riverside 61
Northern Ariz 79 FINAL
Portland State 62
Southern Utah 73 FINAL
Sacramento St 107
Utah 64 FINAL
Washington 75
BYU 65 FINAL
St Marys-CA 64
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close