The Bears on Monday denied the Tennessee Titans formal request seeking permission to speak to Mike Tice about their offensive coordinator vacancy, according to a source close to the situation.
But there were questions about how serious new Titans coach Mike Munchak was about Tice as his coordinator.
After the ouster of longtime coach Jeff Fisher, Munchak is now left scrambling to fill his coaching staff as teams are preparing for the NFL Combine. Munchak sent out several requests, knowing that many of them would be denied. Last week, the New York Jets denied the Titans permission to speak to assistant head coach/ offensive line coach Bill Callahan.
Tice, the Bears offensive line coach, is under contract through the 2011 season.
Tice will be leaned on heavily to provide insight on incoming rookies and to help the Bears upgrade the talent on his offensive line. A former NFL tight end, Tice has distinguished himself in identifying and developing offensive linemen, most notably with the Minnesota Vikings. His greatest find was Matt Birk, a sixth-round pick out of Harvard who developed into a six-time Pro Bowl center. Tice had to convince then Vikings coach Dennis Green to keep Birk on the 53-man roster during the 1998 season, to ensure he wasn't plucked away by another team.
Professionally, the move might have been a good one for Tice. He's never been an offensive coordinator. Personally, though, Tice is close to his son Nate, who is quarterback at the University of Wisconsin, and his daughter Adrienne, who lives in the Twin Cities.