Matt Eberflus, a starting linebacker at The University of Toledo from 1988 to 1991 who served on the coaching staff from 1992 to 2000 before working as an assistant coach in the NFL for more than a decade, was recently announced as the head coach of the Chicago Bears.
He is the first former Rocket student-athlete to serve as an NFL head coach.
A graduate of Whitmer High School in Toledo, Eberflus, 51, lettered in football as a linebacker, earning first-team All-MAC honors as a junior and senior.
He had 325 tackles in his career, including a team-best 89 as a junior and 138 as a senior. As a junior, Eberflus helped lead the Rockets to a 9-2 record and a MAC co-championship. During his senior season, Eberflus served as a co-captain and was chosen for the Nicholson Award as the team’s Most Valuable Player.
He worked as a student assistant in 1992, a graduate assistant in 1993, outside linebackers coach from 1994 to 1998 and defensive backs coach from 1999 to 2000. He also worked as recruiting coordinator in 1994 to 1995.
At the press conference announcing his hire, Eberflus thanked former University of Toledo coaches, Gary Pinkel (1991-2000) and Nick Saban (1990), head football coach at the University of Alabama, who mentored him as a player and as a coach.
“I was fortunate enough to get a job at 22 years old at The University of Toledo for a guy named Gary Pinkel,” Eberflus said. “He’s been special all the way through my career. He’s getting into the College Football Hall of Fame this year … what an outstanding example he was for me at a young age. I was with him 17 or 18 years.
“I got a chance to play for a guy my junior year that showed me how to come into an organization and change the culture and change the mindset of that [organization]. I was living it because I was a player. I’ve stayed in touch with him and that’s Nick Saban. I really want to appreciate the example that he’s given me.”
After leaving the Rockets, Eberflus joined Pinkel at the University of Missouri for eight seasons, 2001-08, as defensive coordinator. He has 13 years of coaching experience in the NFL, most recently from 2017 to 2021 as defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.
Eberflus received his bachelor’s degree in education from UToledo in 1993 and, in 2004, was a Varsity T Hall of Fame inductee.
He is the 17th head coach in Bears franchise history.