Monday, January 02, 2006

Tice gone; Who's next?

Let the speculation begin!!

Now that Mike Tice has been fired as Minnesota Vikings head coach after four seasons, who will be the seventh head coach in team history?

As a Vikings fan since 1978, I have my own thoughts as to whom the Vikings might consider as well as whom they should consider.


To adhere to the NFL hiring policy, teams must interview at least one minority candidate. However, in my opinion, this should be no token inquiry.

Singletary is a Hall of Fame linebacker who was a member of one of the most prolific defenses in history, the 1985 Chicago Bears. He was linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2003-04. Ray Lewis was named 2003 NFL defensive player of the year under the tutelage of Singletary. In 2005, Singletary was in his first season as San Francisco 49ers assistant head coach/linebackers.

In 2001, Singletary won the Walter Camp’s “Man of the Year Award,” based on his reputation for integrity and leadership within his profession and contributions benefiting his community, country and fellow man. He also co-founded Leadership Zone, a company that provides leadership training. That’s the kind of personal pedigree that would be welcome in an organization like the Vikings, who have lacked favorable PR over the past several seasons.


When one coaches a top tier defense in the NFL, one almost gets immediate consideration. That said, Rivera has become a hot candidate in resurrecting an average Bears defense.

Rivera played nine seasons at linebacker for the Bears, coached the Eagles' linebackers for five seasons and spent the past two years coordinating the Bears' successful defense.

In the Minneapolis Star Tribune today, Bears head coach Lovie Smith said he’d be “disappointed if (Rivera) didn't get interviews [this week]. He's done an outstanding job. He's a great football coach and he deserves his shot running his own team some day."

Rivera also has the admiration and respect of All-Pro Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.
"He has the demeanor to be a great head coach," Urlacher told the Star Tribune. "He doesn't get too ticked off or too happy. He's like Coach Smith. He's a smart guy, he knows football and he knows how to win."


While this wouldn’t be my favorite choice, Fassel has the familiarity factor with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. As a life long NY Giants fan, Wilf had the opportunity to see Fassel coach the Giants from 1997 through 2003. In those seven seasons, Fassel compiled a record of 58-53-1 with two NFC East championships, a conference championship and one Super Bowl appearance.


Linehan just completed his first season as Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, where the Dolphins finished the 2005 season with six consecutive victories.

We all know that Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper has had a somewhat erratic career in his seven NFL seasons. However, he never flourished more than in the 2003-04 seasons when Linehan was the Vikings offensive coordinator. In fact, Culpepper averaged just over 4,000 yards passing, 32 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions in those two years. When it was rumored that Linehan would be leaving after the 2004 season, Culpepper made public pleas to find a way to keep him. After a dreadful start to the 2005 season where Culpepper had only 6 TD tosses and 12 INTs in seven games, it seems the pleas where a premonition. The Vikings went from a top 5 offense (in terms of yardage) to a bottom 10 unit in the span of one season.

That is a short list of many candidates who are available to be had.

I’m not sure which will be more intriguing: The process of interviewing candidates or making the actual hire.

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