There never was any question that Vikings coach Brad Childress was going to get an extension on his contract, which had one more year remaining.

The big question was the amount of money and length of contract that Childress' agent and the Wilfs, owners of the team, have been negotiating for a long time.

The deal will keep Childress with the team through the 2013 season, and though no salary figures were released, it's a good bet that his salary was at least doubled from the $2 million a year for which he originally had signed.

The Wilfs and Childress have enjoyed a fantastic relationship from the day they hired him in 2006, and when you win like the Vikings have this year, things only get better.

Childress is a very good coach, and he has an outstanding staff -- as good as any in the NFL -- and his extension will make it easier to keep this great staff.

"He continues to make a positive impact not only for the team, but the entire community, and he is creating a strong foundation for future success," co-owner Zygi Wilf said. "Yeah, he is a great person, and we enjoy working with him and we will continue to work with him to create a successful future for the team."

Although Rick Spielman, the team's vice president of player personnel, is in charge of the draft, Wilf added that Childress also has contributed to the success the team has had in drafting the right players.

Asked if Spielman and others were going to get extensions, Wilf answered: "One at a time."

On a sad note, profootball reported Thursday that Stefanie Spielman passed away after a 10-year battle with breast cancer. She was the wife of former Detroit Lions star Chris Spielman and Rick's sister-in law.

Schedule shift might help

This year, for only the third time in 10 seasons, the Gophers football team won't have to play Wisconsin and Iowa in successive weeks.

These are two big rivals and other coaches before Tim Brewster had complained about what a handicap it was to play for Paul Bunyan's Axe one week and Floyd of Rosedale the next week.

Only time will tell whether this will help the Gophers perform better at Iowa on Saturday. But Brewster said he thinks it will.

"This year I am pleased that we played Wisconsin earlier in the season and we finish with Iowa," said Brewster. "That separation is a good thing."

The Gophers haven't won at Iowa since 1999, and the chances of them winning this game against one of the better teams in the country aren't good.

However, while the No. 15 Hawkeyes almost beat Ohio State last week, they have struggled at times, beating Northern Iowa 17-16, Arkansas State 24-21, Michigan 30-28 and Michigan State on the final play of the game, 15-13. It will be a big upset if the Gophers win.


Comparing quarterback Brett Favre's statistics with the Jets from last year and the Vikings this year through nine games: The Jets were 6-3 and the Vikings are 8-1; last year, he was 194-for-282 (68.7 percent completion rate) and 1,712 yards; with the Vikings he's 194-for-285 (68.1 percent) and 2,269 yards; he had 15 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a passer rating of 90.7 with the Jets; with the Vikings he has 17 touchdowns, only three interceptions and a rating of 107.5.

The Vikings will have only five unrestricted agents after this season, led by running back Chester Taylor. The others are defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy, defensive back Benny Sapp, offensive lineman Artis Hicks and receiver Greg Lewis. The restricted free agents, if there isn't a collective bargaining agreement next season, include quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, defensive linemen Ray Edwards and Fred Evans, fullback Naufahu Tahi and cornerback Karl Paymah.

Indications are that the Twins will not bring catcher Mike Redmond back as a player, but he could wind up with a job in the organization. Speaking about the replacement of Redmond as the backup catcher to Joe Mauer, General Manager Bill Smith said: "Well, we've got two guys: we've got Jose Morales as an offensive catcher and Drew Butera is a defensive catcher -- Drew Butera can really catch and throw. And a lot of it will depend on when we come down to the end of spring training, what is [manager Ron Gardenhire] looking for? What's the best fit for our ballclub? And, again, if Mike Redmond is not with us, then it would most likely come down to one of those two guys and it's really are we looking for more offense or are we looking for defense?"

Marc Trestman, the former Gophers player, Vikings assistant coach and an offensive coordinator for many teams, is 15-3 as coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League after taking the team to the Grey Cup finals last year and losing. If you ask Bud Grant who he thinks is one of the top coaching prospects, he will nominate Trestman, who could get a head coaching job in the NFL next year.

Former Gophers running back Marion Barber had a banner year with the Cowboys last year but this year injuries have limited him to carrying the ball 103 times for 473 yards. A fractured left thumb limited Barber to 26 yards in the first half of the Packers loss and minus-1 yard in the second half. ... And his ex-college teammate, Laurence Maroney, is a second-team running back with the Patriots, and his totals are 94 carries for 378 yards.

Walk-ons with former Gophers football coach Glen Mason who wound up with scholarships under Brewster include receiver Ben Kuznia, defensive tackle Barrett Moen, running back Damola Ogundipe and the Tow-Arnett brothers: offensive lineman Jeff and tight end Nick.

With Lions right guard Stephen Peterman sidelined by a right ankle injury suffered Sunday at the Metrodome, Detroit signed center Melvin Fowler, who played with the Vikings in 2005 and spent the past three seasons with Buffalo. ... Zumbrota, Minn., native Casey Bradley is in his first season as the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator. Bradley spent the previous three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bradley spent 10 seasons as an assistant at North Dakota State, his alma mater.

The New York Mets hired Wally Backman to manage their Class A Brooklyn team on Monday, then on Tuesday promoted Tim Teufel to manager of Class AA Binghamton. They were both second basemen on the 1986 champion Mets, and both also played for the Twins. Teufel began his career with the Twins in 1983 before getting traded to New York in 1986, and Backman was traded from the Mets to the Twins before the 1989 season and played only one year here.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. •