The Chicago Bears have narrowed their list of candidates for offensive line coach to "five or six," including recently hired University of Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bob Bostad and former St. Louis Rams offensive line coach Steve Loney, according to a source.
The source said it "will be a while" before the team makes a decision on the position, and the scheduled interview Tuesday of recently promoted offensive coordinator Mike Tice for the head coaching job of the Oakland Raiders adds fluidity to the situation. A source told ESPNChicago.com that Tice will interview with the Raiders on Jan. 24 in Mobile, Ala., where the Senior Bowl will be played.
So the search for an offensive line coach -- which Tice is sure to be involved in -- could be tied to the outcome of the offensive coordinator's visit with the Raiders.
Interestingly, Bostad -- after spending six years at Wisconsin -- recently joined the staff of former Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, who was hired at Pittsburgh in late December. So with obvious ties to Chryst, Bostad is also familiar with Tice, whose son, Nate, transferred to Wisconsin in 2009 from Central Florida.
Having worked with 2011 first-round pick Gabe Carimi in the past, Bostad helped Wisconsin consistently field one of the country's best offensive lines. Four of Bostad's players over the past two years (Pete Konz, Kevin Zeitler, John Moffitt and Carimi) earned first team All-American recognition.
Under Bostad's tutelage, Wisconsin's offensive line cleared the way for the Badgers to gain more than 3,000 yards rushing the past two seasons, and helped Montee Ball run for 1,923 yards in 2011, with an NCAA-record 39 touchdowns.
The timing of a potential move for Bostad from Pittsburgh to Chicago would seem peculiar, considering he just joined Chryst's staff. But a source said Bostad would have Chryst's blessing should the offensive coordinator choose to join the Chicago Bears.
Loney, 59, spent the last four years with the St. Louis Rams (2008-2011), but is familiar with Tice, having worked him from 2002-2005, when the Bears offensive coordinator was head coach of the Vikings.
Tice promoted Loney in 2005 to offensive coordinator for the Vikings, and the coaching veteran has also worked for the Arizona Cardinals (2006), before serving in 2007 as the head coach of Drake University.
In Loney's first season working under Tice (2002), the Vikings led the NFL in rushing. The following year, Minnesota led the league in total offense. In 2004, with Loney's line providing the protection, the Vikings set a franchise record for yardage as quarterback Daunte Culpepper broke several of the team's passing records on the way to generating the fourth-best passer rating in NFL history.
With St. Louis' recent hiring of Jeff Fisher as the head coach, Loney's future with the Rams could be in doubt, making a potential reunion with Tice a natural fit.
Loney's first NFL coaching job came in 1993 with the Arizona Cardinals. But his college career kicked off in 1974 with Iowa State University when Loney took a job as a graduate assistant.
Loney also authored the book 101 Offensive Line Drills.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.