Longtime college and NFL assistant coach Bill McGovern, who served as Bears inside linebackers coach in 2021, passed away Tuesday due to cancer at the age of 60.
McGovern spent 38 years as a coach, 30 at the collegiate level and eight in the NFL with the Eagles (2013-15), Giants (2016-19) and Bears. He most recently served as UCLA's defensive coordinator in 2022.
McGovern spent 16 years in two stints at Boston College, serving as defensive backs coach (1994-96) and later as linebackers coach (2000-12) while doubling as defensive coordinator (2009-12). Bears general manager Ryan Poles was an offensive lineman at Boston College from 2003-07 and served as a graduate assistant in 2008.
"He was one of the more impactful coaches on our staff at BC," Poles told ChicagoBears.com. "If you had to say there was a favorite on the staff, he definitely was in the top three, if not the No. 1 guy.
"He was a culture setter—the way we practiced, the intensity on the field. He developed a lot of good football players. There are some guys there that I know he impacted not just as football players and developed them into guys who thrived in college football, but he also impacted their lives and how they handle their business as human beings.
"Even if they might have come from rougher backgrounds, he was almost like a father figure to a lot of people to make them into the best human beings they could be."
When Poles was hired by the Bears in January 2022, McGovern was in the process of exiting the organization after serving on coach Matt Nagy's staff in 2021.
"When I got here, he was leaving," Poles said. "I was bummed that I didn't get a chance to see him. But I walked into my office and he had left a note that said, 'I couldn't be more proud of you,' which was really cool. I just wish I had been able to spend some time with him."
At Boston College, McGovern coached linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was named the ACC defensive player of the year in 2011. Kuechly was selected in the first round of the 2012 draft by the Panthers and was voted to seven Pro Bowls and chosen first-team All-Pro five times during an eight-year NFL career.
Collegiately, McGovern also coached at Penn (1985), Holy Cross (1986-87 and 1991-92), Massachusetts (1988-90 and 1993), Pittsburgh (1997-99) and Nebraska (2020).
As a player, McGovern was a four-year starting defensive back at Holy Cross, where he set NCAA Division I-AA records for interceptions in a career (24) and a single season (11) as a senior when he earned consensus first-team All-America honors. He is a member of the Holy Cross Hall of Fame and the school's Ring of Honor.