The inevitable changes to the Chicago Bears’ coaching staff have already begun.
The University of Nebraska officially announced the hiring of Bears assistant offensive line coach Donovan Raiola Wednesday. Raiola will be the Cornhuskers’ offensive line coach and is expected to make the move immediately.
"I am humbled to lead the offensive line at the University of Nebraska," Raiola said in a statement. "I understand the responsibility of coaching the Pipeline and the history of offensive line excellence at Nebraska. We will work tirelessly to add to that tradition."
Raiola joined Bears head coach Matt Nagy’s staff in 2018 along with former offensive line coach Harry Heistand. Both offensive line coaches worked together at Notre Dame. When Heistand was fired following the 2019 season, Raiola was retained and paired with current offensive line coach Juan Castillo.
"We’re excited about the opportunity that he’s gonna get at Nebraska with Coach Frost," Bears head coach Matt Nagy said Wednesday. "When you have a guy that works as hard as these coaches do and put in a lot of hours and time of doing some of the dirty work, and then you get rewarded with a great opportunity like this, it was pretty neat being able to go through that process with Donny. He’s worked hard for that. We’re really happy for him."
As of Wednesday afternoon, Nagy was unsure if Raiola would finish the season with the Bears.
"He's still here and we're working through the logistics of how that works," Nagy said. "They've got a lot of stuff going on, Coach Frost and college right now."
The college recruiting season is in full swing and Raiola would almost certainly need to be involved with that immediately. If Raiola were to depart with five games to go, Nagy could shift some responsibilities around to help with the offensive line.
Raiola reportedly interviewed with Nebraska last Friday and Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost moved quickly to make the hire. Raiola is well-respected and his family has ties to the program, as his brother, Dominic, was an All-American center at Nebraska. Raiola started 39 games for the Wisconsin Badgers from 2003-05.
The move is an obvious promotion for Raiola, even as he moves down to the college ranks. And the timing was right with the future of Nagy’s entire coaching staff in doubt.