Bears don't let Hoke interview for Vikings' defensive coordinator job
Defensive backs coach still has 1 year left on his contract
Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke. (Stacey Wescott/Tribune photo)
By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune reporter 12:26 a.m. CST, January 17, 2012
For the second straight offseason, the Bears have denied an assistant coach an opportunity to become a coordinator elsewhere.
The Bears on Monday declined a request by the Vikings to interview defensive backs coach Jon Hoke for their vacant defensive coordinator position on Leslie Frazier's staff. Hoke, who completed his third season on Lovie Smith's staff, has one year remaining on his contract.
It is probable the Bears said no because the Vikings are an NFC North rival. But that wasn't a factor last February when the team prevented offensive line coach Mike Tice from interviewing with the Titans to become their offensive coordinator, and it's a delicate issue telling an employee he can't explore career advancement.
Tice received a raise and it remains to be seen if the Bears will add a year to Hoke's deal or give him a bump in pay. Teams are only required to grant permission for assistants under contract to interview with other teams when a head-coaching position is involved.
"Hopefully, we'll have some guys on our staff get an opportunity to move up, whether that be assistant coaches moving into coordinator's roles," Smith said Jan. 2. "Or I'd like to see someday where some guys on our staff will get an opportunity to become head coaches in the NFL."
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub has interviewed to be the head coach of the Dolphins and is still in play there. He is no longer under contract and is free to negotiate with any team, but the Bears are expected to take whatever steps necessary to retain him if he doesn't land in Miami. The Bears will likely make him one of the top-paid special teams coaches in the NFL.
Hoke, who was a coordinator at Florida under Steve Spurrier, interviewed to become the Eagles' defensive coordinator last year, but that situation was different because he was going to be a coaching free agent. He returned to the Bears on a two-year contract.
The Bears continued to go through turnover at the safety position, but cornerback Charles Tillman was selected to his first Pro Bowl. The defense tied for sixth in the NFL with 20 interceptions and was eighth in opponent's passer rating at 79.3.
The Vikings have been conducting a search for a new defensive coordinator since their 3-13 season ended. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, former defensive coordinator Fred Pagac was informed Friday he will not be retained in that role. Pagac was reportedly offered a job as the team's linebackers coach, a post he previously held.
That raises questions about the future of Mike Singletary, who was brought in as the team's linebackers coach this season after he was let go as the head coach of the 49ers. Singletary and Frazier have a long history as former teammates with the Bears.
ESPN 1500 in the Twin Cities reported that Singletary's first season with the team was not well reviewed. If Pagac becomes the linebackers coach, what does the team do with Singletary?
The Vikings interviewed ex-Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris and Mel Tucker, who finished the season as the Jaguars' interim coach, for the coordinator job. Morris became the secondary coach for the Redskins and Tucker remains in Jacksonville as defensive coordinator.
Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune