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Vikings decide to go with Frazier as coach

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  • January 2, 2011 - 2:16 PM

DETROIT -- Leslie Frazier will have the interim label removed from his head coaching title this week.

The Star Tribune has confirmed that the Vikings have decided to make Frazier the eighth head coach in team history. An announcement is expected Monday or Tuesday. It's believed Frazier will receive a deal in the neighborhood of three years.

Frazier has guided the Vikings to a 3-2 record since taking over for Brad Childress on Nov. 22, a day after the Vikings lost 31-3 to Green Bay at home.

With four other head coaching jobs already open and more changes sure to be made on Monday, the Vikings had to act quick if they wanted to retain Frazier. Although owner Zygi Wilf was not in the Twin Cities on Friday, Frazier spent several hours meeting with team officials as things really heated up.

While the Vikings have not publicly stated their intention when it comes to the coach search, Frazier has acquitted himself well and would improve to 4-2 with a victory over the Lions after the team went 3-7 under Childress. Two of Frazier's three victories have come on the road, ending a nine-game losing streak away from home under Childress.

What likely impressed ownership the most was the job Frazier did managing the Vikings through turmoil. This has included the collapse of the Metrodome roof -- the Vikings were forced to play "home" games in Detroit and at TCF Bank Stadium -- and the NFL's decision to push last Sunday's game between the Vikings and Eagles to Tuesday because of the threat of a blizzard in Philadelphia.

The Vikings suffered one-sided losses to the Giants (21-3) and Bears (40-14) after the Dome's roof came down but rebounded to upset the Eagles 24-14.

"The thing that I've tried to do is to try and get [the team] focused on the opponent," Frazier said Friday. "That's what I've been trying to do from Day 1. ... Build trust within our team where they're trusting their teammates, they're trusting their coaches and vice versa. I can't say it's one particular thing, but you guys know what leadership looks like, and that's important in the role that I'm in. It makes a huge difference. However way you define leadership, that's what I've tried to provide."

Frazier, a cornerback for the Chicago Bears from 1981 to 1986, has been the anti- thesis of Childress, bringing a calm and less confrontational demeanor to his duties.

One reason Wilf acted quickly to retain Frazier was because the coach was dealing from a position of strength. Frazier has interviewed for seven head coaching jobs in recent years and now has the experience he lacked.

Teams already looking for head coaches come include Carolina, Denver and San Francisco. The Dallas job has been opened but it's been reported that Jason Garrett, who has been the team's interim coach, will be hired.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen seriously considered hiring Frazier two years ago before deciding to go with Josh McDaniels. Cincinnati and Oakland also could makes changes, and there is uncertainty surrounding a handful of other teams.

It remains uncertain how the Vikings' power structure will work. Childress had final authority over several matters, including the 53-man roster. Wilf could look to give a member of the front office, such as vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman, more of a say in matters.

"I'll probably have to stay away from that one right now until we have some other discussions," Frazier said when asked if he'd like authority similar to what Childress had. "I'd love to be back here and working with our team and the familiarity I have with this organization. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."

Frazier joined the Vikings in 2007 after two seasons working on Indianapolis Colts coaching staff with his good friend Tony Dungy. Frazier replaced Mike Tomlin as the Vikings defensive coordinator after Tomlin left to become head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Frazier was given the title of assistant head coach in March 2008.

Frazier began his coaching career in 1988 at Trinity International University when he started the program at the Illinois school.

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