Vikings coach Brad Childress has said on more than one occasion this offseason that he feels Eric Bieniemy is one of the top running back coaches in the NFL.
That respect is one reason Childress worked so hard in recent days to keep Bieniemy on his coaching staff.
Childress said Saturday evening that Bieniemy was offered the offensive coordinator's position at Southern Cal by coach Lane Kiffin but has elected to remain with the Vikings. Bieniemy told Childress he was staying on Thursday morning.
Bieniemy will receive a pay raise from the Vikings and also has been given the title of assistant head coach offense. He will continue to oversee the running backs. Bieniemy already will be entering the first year of a two-year contract he signed so there was no extension.
"Eric's a bright young guy, he's Adrian Peterson's mentor and obviously he has aspirations," to move up, Childress said. "Like we talked about, there is no exact way to climb the ladder. It sounds extremely appealing, to live out there and recruit, and he's great at recruiting. You're talking about giant money and it costs giant money to live [in Southern California]. It was extremely appealing and maybe you become a head coach in college. But I think he has the ability to be a head coach at this level. He's a tremendous teacher."
Childress' feels Bieniemy's decision to stay will improve his chances of staying on track to get a head job in the NFL some day. Bieniemy, who grew up a Trojans fan in Southern California, admitted it was a very difficult decision to make and said one reason he stayed was because the Vikings are so close to opening training camp.
"First off I felt I would have let my players down," he said. "On top of that, I would have let my fellow coaches down and I would have let the organization down. There was a lot pulling at me. After having conversations with our head coach, with people in management and ownership this is the right place for me and the right decision.
Under this plan, Leslie Frazier will remain assistant head coach, as well as defensive coordinator, and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will continue to call plays. Bieniemy, though, will get more responsibilities when it comes to dealing with the offense and its players.
By the way, the USC job went to Tennessee Titans running backs coach Kennedy Pola. The way Kiffin went about hiring Pola did not sit well with Titans coach Jeff Fisher.
"I am very disappointed in Lane Kiffin's approach to this," Fisher told The Tennessean on Saturday. "Typically speaking, when coaches are interested in hiring or discussing potential employment from coaches on respective staffs there is a courtesy call made from the head coach or athletic director indicating there is an interest in talking to the assistant. To call me and leave me a voicemail after Kennedy had informed me he had taken the job. It is just a lack of professionalism."