As with most of the Chicago Bears' new coaching staff, linebackers coach Tim Tibesar has a history with head coach Marc Trestman. Tibesar worked under Trestman with the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL, first as linebackers coach from 2009-2010, then as defensive coordinator in 2011.
When Trestman landed his gig with the Bears he was quick to hire Tibesar as part of his defensive staff. Like a number of Chicago's new coaches, Tibesar has never before coached in the NFL.
"For a coach to get the opportunity to coach in the NFL, it's a dream come true," Tibesar told Bear Report. "I feel very fortunate to be able to do this with coach Trestman, a coach that I know and have worked with three years prior. I know what a great person he is, in addition to being a great football coach."
Tibesar spent 2012 as the defensive coordinator for Purdue. Before that, he worked three years at Kansas State, first as running backs coach (2006) and then two years as defensive coordinator (2007-2008). He started his coaching career in 2000 as the tight ends coach for Cornell. He then spent the next five years working for his alma mater, North Dakota, first as linebackers coach (2001-2003) and then as defensive coordinator (2004-2005).
"I spent most of my coaching career in college football," Tibesar said. "The rules of the game are much more similar, compared to the CFL to the NFL. I've been fortunate that I did have the opportunity to coach professional football with professional athletes up in the Canadian Football League. That's a much bigger transition, to go from college to pro, than it will be to go from the CFL to the NFL.
"You are dealing with grown men who have been doing this for a living and who bring a professional attitude to this sport and how they go about doing their job. That's very different from the relationship you have with college students, where you are more of a mentor and it's more of a one-way street. This is much more of a partnership. It's our job as coaches to serve these players and help them achieve their potential as a player on the football field and help them prolong their career."
Tibesar will have the good fortune of inheriting Lance Briggs, a seven-time Pro Bowler. Yet beyond that, the Bears' linebacker cupboard is fairly empty, with three of the club's top four players – Brian Urlacher, Nick Roach and Geno Hayes – set to hit free agency. For Tibesar, that type of uncertainty is just part of the job.
"It's part of modern-day free-agent NFL. That's just the reality of it," he said. "Every year there's going to be a group of players on your team that are going to be free agents and you hope you can get the ones to re-sign that are going to help you improve as a football team.
"It also gives you the opportunity to look around and see what other teams have as free agents. If all you ever did was recycle the same players that you had from the year before, the team couldn't improve and couldn't take the next step."
It would be reasonable to assume that an NFL first-timer, coming to coach linebackers in Chicago – where have played two Hall of Famers, Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary, and one future Hall of Famer in Urlacher – would be feeling a bit of pressure to live up to the lofty expectations.
"I don't know about pressure but it's certainly exciting," said Tibesar. "How great to go and coach at a place, and you get to be the linebackers coach at a club that's produced Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher? What a great tradition."
In fact, Tibesar plans on using the storied tradition of Bears linebackers to the team's favor.
"Anybody that you can bring in here, you can show them what the standard of performance is, where the bar has been set," he said. "It's been set so high, which is fantastic, because without high expectations you can never achieve greatness."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.