LAKE FOREST – When Marc Trestman arrived to his first interview at Halas Hall for the Bears’ head coaching vacancy, he brought more than a résumé and a list of references.
Trestman carried a personalized calendar filled with notations.
It started in mid-January with his first few plans as the Bears’ coach. It ended Feb. 2, 2014.
Ring a bell?
That’s the date of Super Bowl XLVIII in East Rutherford, N.J.
“Yeah,” Trestman said with a smile several hours after he was introduced as the 14th head coach in franchise history. “Up until the parade.”
No word on whether Trestman outlined the best places to buy confetti.
For almost an hour Thursday, Trestman stood behind a lectern in a crowded auditorium and shared his philosophy on quality offenses, successful quarterbacks, personnel decisions and leadership in general. He spoke about how excited he was to work with Jay Cutler and how grateful he was to the Bears for giving him his first chance as an NFL head coach.
But all that you really need to know about Trestman lies in the pages of his 13-month calendar.
Bears chairman George McCaskey flipped quickly through the months, but not because he was disinterested in the details. He couldn’t wait to see how Trestman’s plan culminated.
“I went right to the end,” McCaskey said, “where he talks about, ‘After the parade, I’m going to give my staff two weeks off.’ And then he said, ‘The day after we get back, we will begin planning for the next season.’
“I was very impressed with that.”
McCaskey wasn’t alone.
Bears general manager Phil Emery marveled at the thoroughness of Trestman’s planning. The 13-month calendar caught him off guard at first, and when he shared it with his wife, she had a similar reaction.
“She goes, ‘What’s with this 13-month calendar?’ ” Emery said. “I go, ‘He might be a little bit smarter than the rest of us. He’s already got the road map all the way going to that day in February.”
A road map typically includes highways and streets.
This item came with the tiniest details of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, which (among other things) defines how frequently and how long teams are able to practice.
“Every day accounted for. Every time slot accounted for. Every meeting accounted for,” Emery said. “Not only that, but he had included the provisions of our CBA and the state’s, which takes a nuclear scientist to figure out exactly what you can do.
“He had called so many people – all of his friends in the league – he knew all the parameters of the CBA and he had already laid it out in calendar form with the understanding of the rules that are very difficult. So, that gives you an example of who Marc is in terms of his organizational skills and his attention to detail.”
Still, it’s pretty bold to walk into an interview with “Super Bowl parade” in writing.
I suggested as much to Trestman.
“Well, I think that what we’re trying to do is pretty bold,” Trestman said. “I mean, I think you have to start at the parade. You have to start at the importance of the parade.
“Now, we’re not making proclamations here. We’re not doing that. Because every team wants the same thing. You go into a season – starting today for me – what every team wants is the same vision, right? It’s the same goal. We all want to do that.
“Well, if that’s the goal, the goal is the parade. I mean, it’s a symbolic word, but it’s the parade, right? Well, how are we going to get there? If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you plan how to get there? And that was my point to Phil.”
“So, now, we’ve got to fill in each day because they’re all important in getting to that point,” Trestman said. “And the chances of you getting there are not very good if you don’t have the plan to get there, and the proactive daily plan.
“So, it wasn’t to be presumptuous, and it wasn’t even to make a point. It’s just a natural thing. We’ve got to know where we’re going here so we can always be in tune to that, and it’s part of what inspires us.”
It inspired McCaskey and Emery.
Pretty soon, it’s likely to inspire a group of 53 Bears players.
“The beauty of a calendar,” Trestman said, “is you see the day, and that focuses you in, because tomorrow’s not even manufactured. It’s a figment of our imagination. The only reality is today.
“By working today, now the next day materializes. It manifests itself into something tangible. But it can’t without today.”
With Trestman in charge, the Bears are going deep.
Who knows? Maybe they’ll march all the way to a parade.
• Tom Musick covers Chicago professional sports for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.