Potential finalists emerge in Vikings coaching search

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 10, 2014 - 1:34 PM

 

The Vikings’ scheduled interview with Jay Gruden was canceled Thursday after the Washington Redskins hired the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator to be their new head coach.

However, the Vikings’ coaching search continues to take shape as two candidates — Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles — are rumored to be favorites as the process nears the end of its second week.

ESPN reported that Zimmer is considered a favorite and a league source said Bowles likely will be in the final group that General Manager Rick Spielman presents to owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.

Spielman indicated last week during his news conference after Leslie Frazier’s firing that he hoped to narrow his wide list of candidates to two or three finalists. Spielman has interviewed five known candidates: Seattle coordinators Darrell Bevell and Dan Quinn; Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton; Bowles; and Zimmer.

Spielman did not set an exact timetable for hiring a coach, except to say he’d liked to have a decision made by the Senior Bowl. Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile, Ala., begin Jan. 20.

“Once we narrow it down to the potential two or three, our ownership will be involved along with myself through the interview process,” Spielman said. “We will work collectively to get the decision the right way.”

It’s unknown if the Vikings will choose between the candidates they’ve already interviewed or if they’ll wait until next week to conduct another round of interviews.

The team reportedly has either requested permission to interview or expressed interest in San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Denver Broncos coordinators Jack Del Rio and Adam Gase.

Zimmer’s name has created a buzz among Vikings fans this week. The veteran coordinator has interviewed for several head coach jobs in recent years and offers a track record of building successful defenses. He interviewed with the Vikings on Wednesday and met with the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.

The Vikings interviewed Bowles in Phoenix on Monday and the meeting went well, according to John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which helps promote minority hiring in the NFL.

Wooten talked to Spielman after his interview with Bowles and discussed the team’s process.

“Rick felt good about the interview,” Wooten said. “As a matter of fact, his word was, ‘He literally blew us away.’ It was a positive on both sides. Everybody felt real good about it.”

Spielman reiterated to Wooten that he wants to whittle his list to three finalists to bring to the Wilfs.

“He’s doing it the right way,” Wooten said.” He’s going to be thorough, and he should be.”

Season tickets set

The Vikings released season-ticket prices for 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium on their website.

The top season-ticket price is $139 per game, up slightly from last year’s $133. The lowest season-ticket price is $35 per game, up from last season’s $31 per game.

It’s difficult to compare prices at different levels because the team is playing at a different stadium. The capacity of the Metrodome was 64,121. The capacity of TCF is 50,085, although the Vikings plan to add bleachers to the open end.

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