Mike Zimmer hasn’t even had his first news conference in Minnesota, and already he’s winning the battle of public opinion. In a startribune.com poll, 84 percent of respondents said they either “love” or “like” his hire as the new Vikings coach. ¶ Of course, it doesn’t really matter where you start. What matters is where you finish. As such, here is a ranking of the six Vikings coaches who preceded Zimmer but came after Bud Grant (the first time) in terms of where they wound up in franchise likability lore.
6) Les Steckel: This one is pretty easy. Steckel lasted just one disastrous season with the Vikings, going 3-13 and becoming synonymous locally with failure. Steckel ran his team like a drill sergeant, which is a tough way to go as a 38-year-old, first-time head coach.
5) Brad Childress: Though his teams steadily improved from 2006 to ’09, gaining two wins each season, Childress never connected with the Vikings fanbase. His jargon-filled news conferences were a constant source of derision, and the disastrous 2010 season that spelled his demise as head coach sealed his fate in the court of public opinion.
4) Dennis Green: This is the toughest one to gauge. People generally remember Green as a good coach who presided over eight playoff seasons during his 10 years with the Vikings — an impressive stretch of success. But his style wore thin with fans, and being associated with Taking a Knee as well as 41-Donut does not help.
3) Leslie Frazier: Less success than Childress or Green, but generally liked by fans. Some thought Frazier took the fall for problems he did not create, and most fans agreed he was classy to the end.
2) Mike Tice: A lovable lug whose tenure looks better in retrospect. He could be maddening with the challenge flag, but his honesty won him a lot of ardent supporters. He also had a winning record in his final season (9-7 in 2005), something no other Vikings coach can claim.
1) Jerry Burns: A players’ coach who was crusty, went on epic rants and who led a group of overachievers to the brink of a Super Bowl berth. What’s not to love about Burnsie?