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Trestman brings NFL experience to NC State

Posted Monday, September 12, 2005

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Pack's offensive coordinator looks forward to return to college

Raleigh, N.C. - If Marc Trestman's track record is indicative of things to come, NC State's offense could be in for a heck of a 2005 season.

The Wolfpack's new offensive coordinator, Trestman has spent 21 years in coaching, almost all of it as either a quarterbacks coach and/or offensive coordinator, mostly in the National Football League. Trestman has overseen some prolific offenses, and some of the game's greatest players have had their best seasons in Trestman's presence.

Asked about the success stories that seem to have followed him around, the rail-thin Trestman just shrugs and attributes it to good fortune.

"I've always felt like I've been at the right place at the right time," he says. "I've been really lucky to be around some good coaches and some good players."

Trestman began his coaching career in 1981 as a volunteer coach at the University of Miami. Two years later, at age 25, he was named Miami's quarterbacks coach. Hurricanes quarterback Bernie Kosar responded with 2,329 yards passing, and Miami defeated Nebraska 31-30 in the Orange Bowl to claim the 1983 national championship. A year later, Kosar set school records for pass completions with 262 and passing yards with 3,642, records that still stand at UM, and also threw 25 touchdown passes, fourth most in school history.

After three seasons with mediocre teams in Minnesota (1985-86) and Tampa Bay (1987), Trestman reunited with Kosar in 1988 as the Cleveland Browns' quarterbacks coach. Kosar passed for 1,890 yards that season and the Browns finished 10-6 and advanced to the AFC playoffs. A year later, the Browns promoted Trestman to offensive coordinator, and Kosar and wide receiver Webster Slaughter led Cleveland to the AFC championship game. Kosar passed for 3,533 yards and 18 TDs, and Slaughter set a franchise record with 1,236 receiving yards.

In 1990, Trestman returned to his native Minnesota and the Vikings, but two more unproductive seasons with the Vikings led Trestman to leave coaching and go to work as a municipal bonds broker.

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"I got out of football to start a family and was really planning on staying out of it," Trestman says. "But Mike Shanahan winds up leaving San Francisco to go to Denver as head coach [in 1995] and I got a call out of nowhere from [then-49ers head coach] George Seifert. I flew out there and said if I'm supposed to be coaching Steve Young and Jerry Rice right now, I'm going to do it. You never pass this way again, and it worked out really well."

San Francisco was a rebirth for Trestman as a football coach. Working as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the 49ers not only marked his return after three years away from the game, it also was his first experience with the West Coast offense.

"When I went there," Trestman says, "Coach Seifert said, `I want you to forget about what you know about football and start from scratch.' I went back and watched [on tape] Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan install the offense, and I went to George and said, `I can do this. I'll do it. I can lock in and focus in and do it.' It was a great learning process for me."

In Trestman's first year with the defending Super Bowl champions, the 49ers led the NFL with 457 points scored, 644 pass attempts and 4,779 passing yards. They also ranked second with 391.1 total yards per game. Jerry Rice set an NFL record that still stands with 1,848 yards receiving on 122 catches, and scored 15 touchdowns. Recently inducted Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young made the Pro Bowl after throwing for 3,200 yards and 20 TDs.

Seifert was shown the door by 49ers ownership following the 1996 season, and Trestman was unceremoniously dumped in the process. He didn't stay unemployed long. Bobby Ross hired Trestman to be the Detroit Lions' quarterbacks coach for 1997, and the Lions, not surprisingly, had one of the most dynamic offenses in the league. With Scott Mitchell at quarterback, the '97 Lions passed for 3,484 yards, second most in team history. And while Trestman was only the quarterbacks coach, the Lions offense also featured a tailback named Barry Sanders who rushed for 2,053 yards that year, the third-most ever in NFL annals.

Following the '97 season, Trestman was on the move again, to the Arizona Cardinals as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. The Cardinals, who averaged five wins and 242 points a year the previous decade, won nine games and scored 325 points in 1998. Quarterback Jake Plummer passed for 3,737 yards, and the Cardinals made the playoffs for the first time since 1982 and won their first postseason game in 51 years.

Injuries and free-agent defections derailed Arizona the next two years, but Trestman resurfaced in Oakland in 2001 as the Raiders' quarterbacks coach. In 2002 he ascended to offensive coordinator, and the Raiders terrorized defenses throughout the league.

The 2002 Oakland Raiders led the NFL in total offense with 389.8 yards per game and passing yards with 279.7 per game. They completed 418 of 618 pass attempts for 67.6 percent. Quarterback Rich Gannon had 10 games of 300 or more yards passing, and at one point completed 21 consecutive passes in a game. The Raiders became the first team in league history to win a game by throwing more than 60 passes (65 vs. Pittsburgh) and running 60 times (60 carries vs. Kansas City). The 2002 Raiders had three players with more than 90 catches -- Jerry Rice (106), Charlie Garner (108) and Tim Brown (94).

"Marc Trestman has done an outstanding job," former Raiders coach Bill Callahan said. "I credit him with a lot of our success. I can't even begin to describe how far his depth goes in terms of knowledge of the game. He's a brilliant coach."

The Raiders, who lost to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl, led the league with 450 points that season, and outscored their opponents by 144 points, helping Trestman develop a reputation for stepping on the gas and not sitting on a lead.

"The thing I like about Marc is his aggressiveness," Gannon said. "I feel like he's always in attack mode, and as players, we respond to that."

Trestman spent the 2004 season with the Miami Dolphins, then returned to the college ranks this season after the entire Miami coaching staff was let go following the '04 season. He had an offer from the New Orleans Saints, but agreed to join the Wolfpack a week before national signing day last February.

"Probably the guy we had to fight the hardest to get was Marc Trestman," Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato said on signing day. "That was the biggest fish we got. That was the biggest recruit we got in this allotment."

Big fish or not, Trestman brings an impressive and extensive resume with him to Raleigh, but he isn't much for predictions or tooting his own horn. You won't hear any bold statements coming from him about what to expect from the Wolfpack offense in 2005. He says only that things went well in spring practice and in August camp, and that the Wolfpack will do whatever it takes to move the football.

So Wolfpack fans will have to wait until tonight's game against Virginia Tech to see Trestman's impact on the offense. Based on his past performances, though, it should be worth the wait.

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Trestman brings NFL experience to NC State
Wolfpack's new offensive coordinator, Marc Trestman has spent 21 years in coaching.
photos by Gene Galin
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