Vikings set to pick Brad Childress
- Article by: Judd Zulgad and Sid Hartman
- Star Tribune
- January 5, 2006 - 11:38 PM
The Vikings have selected Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress to be their next head coach.
Childress confirmed that contract talks were taking place Thursday night at a downtown Minneapolis hotel.
"It's close," said Childress, talking about the deal, when reached late Thursday night. "I'll probably be more excited about this tomorrow."
The Vikings are expected to hold a news conference this morning at Winter Park in Eden Prairie.
Childress will become the first coach hired to fill one of the National Football League's eight job openings and will be the Vikings' seventh head coach.
"That's cool and it's kind of overdue for him," Eagles tight end L.J. Smith said. "He's a good guy. Smart. Organized."
The Eagles' Smith added: "I think Minnesota is going to get the next great coach."
Childress, 49, was one of four candidates the Vikings interviewed after Mike Tice was dismissed.
Tice was let go shortly after a victory over Chicago in the regular-season finale last Sunday.
The team's four-person search committee also interviewed Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, Kansas City assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Al Saunders, and Indianapolis assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell for the position.
"I guess he's the guy they deem to be the best candidate to lead the franchise into the future," said Vikings linebacker Keith Newman, an unrestricted free agent this offseason. "I really don't know much about him."
Childress jumped to the top of the Vikings' short list after Washington assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams signed a three-year, $8 million contract Tuesday to remain with the Redskins.
Childress was the first coaching candidate to meet with the Vikings' search committee, which includes owner Zygi Wilf, team president Mark Wilf, vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski and vice president of operations and legal counsel Kevin Warren. Childress' initial meeting took place Monday night and the interview continued Tuesday.
He was supposed to talk to the Packers about their vacant head coaching position on Wednesday, but he never went to Green Bay.
By Thursday, negotiations were taking place between Brzezinski and Warren on the Vikings' side, and Childress' agent, Bob LaMonte. None of them returned messages. Zygi Wilf joined the talks in the evening after flying back to the Twin Cities on his private plane.
Childress was not in the room where negotiations were taking place, so "it's kind of hard to tell" how they were progressing, he said.
When asked if a head coaching job in the NFL was a dream come true, Childress said, "How about if I just make those comments tomorrow?"
A coach since 1978
Childress has been a football coach since 1978, but he will be getting his first chance as a head coach. He had been an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles since 1999 and became the team's offensive coordinator in 2002. Childress was hired one day after the Eagles named Andy Reid as their head coach on Jan. 11, 1999.
Although he held the coordinator's title, Childress did not call the offensive plays for the Eagles. That job was handled by Reid. Childress, however, did receive credit for his work with Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, a five-time Pro Bowl selection.
Philadelphia missed the playoffs this season, finishing 6-10, but the Eagles had won four consecutive NFC East titles before that and advanced to last season's Super Bowl, where they lost to New England. The Eagles beat the Vikings twice in 2004, including 27-14 in the divisional playoffs.
Childress was an offensive assistant at the University of Wisconsin from 1991 to 1998 before joining the Eagles.
In addition to the Vikings and Packers, Childress also had been scheduled to interview with the Houston Texans. The New Orleans Saints had expressed interest in him, too.
Childress will take over a team that finished 9-7 this season and missed the playoffs for the third time in Tice's four full seasons as coach.
The Vikings started 2-5 in 2005 and were saddled with the early-season distraction of the Oct. 6 party on Lake Minnetonka where players allegedly engaged in sexual activity in front of workers from a charter boat company.
Four players -- quarterback Daunte Culpepper, running back Moe Williams, offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie and cornerback Fred Smoot -- have been charged with misdemeanor offenses. All four entered not guilty pleas this week. The Vikings also lost Culpepper for the season on Oct. 30 when he tore three ligaments in his right knee in a loss at Carolina.
Childress, much like his former boss Reid, is expected to take on much of the responsibility for the Vikings' offense and could assume the play-calling duties. Childress is a proponent of the West Coast offense, which features a short-passing game and ball control.
Personnel chief sought
Once Childress' contract is worked out, the Vikings are expected to turn their attention to filling the role of personnel chief. Scott Studwell, the Vikings' director of college scouting, and Jeff Robinson, the team's coordinator of pro personnel, interviewed for the job last weekend. The Vikings' top choice was the Eagles' Tom Heckert, but Philadelphia kept him by giving him the general manager's title. It's unclear how much say in personnel Childress will receive.
"That's awesome," Eagles tight end Chad Lewis said upon hearing the news about Childress. "I have the utmost respect for Coach Childress as a person and as a coach. I love his approach. He brings integrity to the game. He brings expert game preparation and dedication to the team. And he requires that of you, to own up to your business every week."
Childress' first priorities will include assessing the Vikings' coaching staff and deciding if he wants to keep any of Tice's assistants. Steve Loney, who served as offensive coordinator and line coach this season, was in Arizona on Thursday interviewing for the job of offensive line coach with the Cardinals. Cottrell's employment also would be one of the first orders of business.
Two names expected to be high on Childress' list of potential assistant coaches are Darrell Bevell, who played quarterback under Childress at Wisconsin and is quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers; and Eric Bieniemy, running backs coach at UCLA. Childress also could look to the Eagles staff for assistants. Philadelphia quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur could be a potential offensive coordinator, and linebackers coach Steve Spagnuolo and secondary coach Sean McDermott could be in line to be defensive coordinator.
Staff writers Mark Craig and Kevin Seifert contributed to this story.
BRAD CHILDRESS FILE
Age: 49. Born June 27, 1956, in Aurora, Ill.
Schooling: Attended Marmion Military High School and Eastern Illinois University.
Family: Wife Dru-Ann. Children Cara, 22; Kyle, 20; Andrew, 16; Christopher, 15.
College coaching career: Illinois 1978-84 (running backs, wide receivers); Northern Arizona 1986-89 (offensive coordinator); Utah 1990 (wide receivers); Wisconsin 1991 (running backs, offensive coordinator).
Pro coaching career: Indianapolis 1985 (quarterbacks); Philadelphia 1999-present (quarterbacks, offensive coordinator).
Connections: While coaching at Northern Arizona, he worked with current Eagles coach Andy Reid and future NFL coaches Bill Callahan (Raiders) and Marty Mornhinweg (Lions). Callahan is now coaching Nebraska, while Mornhinweg is an Eagles assistant.
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