Mike Tice: Older, grayer with a hint of purple

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2012 - 6:41 AM

The latest venture for former Vikings coach Mike Tice is running the Bears offense.

hide

Mike Tice’s quarterback, Jay Cutler, has been slowed of late because of a concussion suffered on Nov. 11.

Photo: Nuccio Dinuzzo, Chicago Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

CHICAGO — Mike Tice walked off the Chicago Bears practice field, stepped through the door and smiled, extending his hand. There is less hair and more gray. He no longer keeps a pencil behind his ear; affectations don't seem so important any more. He does wear horn-rimmed glasses, but only because he has to.

"Bifocals," he explained. "I can't see."

He is so quiet. Sitting on the couch, his deep voice is so soft you have to lean forward to hear. "I hardly ever raise my voice anymore," he said.

Can this be the same guy? Is this the Mike Tice Vikings fans often loved and sometimes laughed at during his stint as a head coach not too many years ago?

Yes, he insists.

Tice is in his first year as the Bears offensive coordinator. He was promoted from line coach when Chicago and Mike Martz parted ways. He inherited a mercurial quarterback and some high expectations. Both have taken hits. Jay Cutler has been up and down and, most recently, out because of a concussion; the Bears' best offense has often been their defense. Still, they are 7-3 and tied for the NFC North lead.

But in Chicago -- which he famously called a "tough-guy town" years ago -- Tice is determined to do something he has never done: make it to the Super Bowl. And he believes, given good health, it can be done. Since being let go by Vikings owner Zygi Wilf moments after the 2005 finale, Tice has been working toward that goal.

By his own admission, he wasn't ready to be a head coach when he was first given the chance by former Vikings owner Red McCombs in 2002.

"I was organized," he said, "but I wasn't ready. But of those who get their first chance, who is?"

Tice said he is happy where he is, without being a head coach. But given a little prodding, he will look back. Sunday the Bears and Vikings will meet, Tice's present and past. And, just about every day, he looks back at one game and wonders how things might have been different. Tice admits he wasn't ready to be a head coach when he started, but he said he is convinced he was by the time he was let go.

"I'll tell you the biggest hurt I have from the whole head coaching thing," Tice said. "It's not being let go by Mr. Wilf. It is the fourth-down play in Arizona. I will never forget that one. I cannot forget that one. That one still hurts."

Tice was referring to the final game of the 2003 season, when a last-second 28-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-24 from Cardinals quarterback Josh McCown to Nathan Poole denied the Vikings both a division title and a playoff berth.

"If we win that game," he said, "life might have gone a different direction."

Old Tice, new Tice

Tice, 53, and his wife, Diane, still have a home in Minnesota, and daughter Adrienne, a St. Thomas grad, lives in St. Paul. His son, Nate, is a graduate assistant coach at Pitt.

Tice still shows up at Bunny's in St. Louis Park -- the bar where he used to have his own parking spot -- from time to time.

The coach and man you see today is a product of his past, and Tice remembers all of it. A native of Islip, N.Y., he was a college quarterback at Maryland before 14 seasons as an NFL tight end -- 10 in Seattle, three with the Vikings, one with the Redskins. He worked his way up the coaching ladder with the Vikings and, after being fired, was an assistant for four seasons in Jacksonville before joining Lovie Smith's staff in Chicago.

"As you get older, you gain more experience," he said. "You make mistakes, you learn and grow from them. I'm surrounded by a tremendous network of friends from over the years in Minnesota, Seattle and Jacksonville. So right now? I don't want to say I'm more relaxed, but I'm not as uptight. I don't scream and yell much. I've gotten a little more religious as I've gotten older. I try not to miss church."

That's not to say Tice has completely changed. On a Bears staff filled with buttoned-down types, he stands out. It's no surprise he's a media favorite.

When an unhappy Cutler was caught on national TV getting up and walking away from Tice on the sidelines during a tense victory over Dallas in October, Tice used charm rather than anger to deal with the situation. "He probably had enough of me telling him why the play didn't work," Tice told the media. "I get enough of me sometimes, too. I can talk a little bit."

Tice has been known to demonstrate blocking techniques during news conferences. At the same time he is careful not to push the comedy too much. Again, he has learned some lessons.

The Vikings years

During the playoffs after the 2011 season Tice reflected on his career path in a story with the New York Times.

"I started out being known as a good offensive line coach," he said. "Then I became a head coach, and everybody decided I was a buffoon. Then I made a couple of mistakes and people thought I was a bigger buffoon. I'm still a good line coach. I'm still a good coach. More than anything, that's what you want your legacy to be."

Asked about those comments nearly a year later, Tice shifted in his seat, leaning forward. "Well, some people called me a non-scheme guy," he said. "Just a motivator. I really think I know a lot about football. People say, 'He's not a scheme guy.' Then I said, 'How the hell did we have so many good offenses?'"

Tice was named interim coach for the final game of the 2001 season after McCombs fired Dennis Green. After the interim tag was removed, he assembled a staff that included Scott Linehan, who was plucked out of the college ranks to be his offensive coordinator.

In 2002 the Vikings went 6-10, leading the NFL in rushing. In 2003 they improved to 9-7, with that heartbreaking loss in Arizona, after leading the league in total offense.

The Vikings dropped to 8-8 in 2004 but won a playoff game in Green Bay and set team records for total yards and passing yards.

Of course, there were problems. The ill-fated Randy Ratio with Randy Moss. The Super Bowl ticket scandal that landed Tice a $100,000 fine, the largest ever for a head coach to that point. And, during the bye week in 2005, the infamous Love Boat incident.

"I made a mistake with the tickets," Tice said. "That's unfortunate. I sold a couple tickets. I'm not going to sit there and say, 'That's what everyone's doing.' I did it. It was against the rules, and I paid the price. The boat thing? Real disappointed in the guys. Bye weekend, going and doing something like that? That was more disappointing than anything else. But you learn from these things, from your mistakes. If you don't, you're a dummy."

The end in Minnesota

That 2005 season was doomed from the start. There was the ticket scalping. Then McCombs, in penny-pinching mode with the team for sale, wouldn't give Tice the money to re-sign Linehan. The Wilfs became owners that spring.

With Steve Loney as offensive coordinator, the Vikings started 2-5. After Tice became more involved in the play-calling, the Vikings won six straight. But the team's playoff hopes were doomed with a loss to Pittsburgh. It finished 9-7 with a victory over Chicago, and Tice was quickly let go.

"I was given a fair chance by the old ownership because they gave me the opportunity," Tice said. "I was given a chance by the new ownership because, if we had made it to the playoffs, I probably would have stayed. But with the things that were going on, with the controversies, they had to make a decision and bring their own guy in. And I respect that."

From afar, though, Tice watched as the Wilfs invested in the Vikings in ways McCombs didn't. He couldn't help but wonder what he could have done in that environment.

"Like my father used to say: A day late and a dollar short," Tice said. "You can't look back now. You have to just cherish the memories. I wish I'd won a few more games. If we had, who knows what the story would have been? But we didn't."

Lessons along the way

So here's what Tice learned:

• To succeed as a coach requires distance from the players. Tice went from playing for the Vikings right into an assistant coaching job with the team. That distance took some time to learn. "I didn't have that separation when I was coaching there," he said. "That had to change. As I've gotten older, it's become easier to have that separation."

• To examine football from both sides of the ball. Tice said he has learned a lot about the game working with Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville and Smith in Chicago.

"I had never worked with a defensive head coach before," he said. "When you do, you see they look at the game differently than an offensive head coach."

It is that perspective he uses today.

Admittedly it's still a work in progress. The Bears offense has struggled at times, especially in the 1 1/2 games Cutler missed. Still, Chicago is in the running for the NFC North title, and Tice's ultimate goal does not look out of reach.

And then what? Does Tice feel the itch for another shot at being a head coach?

"No, no, I wouldn't say that," Tice said, perhaps protesting too much. "You have to understand, I'm not going to turn down a good job. But I'm working to get to a Super Bowl. I have never been there, not as a player, or as a coach. I want to get there, and win it. Anything after that would be just nice. ... We'd all like to have a second chance. But, for me, it's not ranked No. 1 on my radar."

At this point Tice looked down at his watch. Time was almost up. But he had one more message for Vikings fans.

"Love 'em," he said. "Fantastic. I miss my purple. But that's the way it goes."

  • WEEK 12 NOON TODAY AT CHICAGO SOLDIER FIELD • LINE: OFF THE BOARD TV: CH. 9 (100.3-FM, 1130-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Atlanta 106 FINAL
Washington 102
Golden State 114 FINAL
Miami 97
Detroit 86 FINAL
Milwaukee 98
Sacramento 99 FINAL
New Orleans 89
Chicago 109 FINAL
Denver 114
Winnipeg 4 FINAL
Columbus 2
Ottawa 3 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Edmonton 2 FINAL
Dallas 3
Colorado 4 FINAL(OT)
Arizona 3
New Jersey 0 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Calgary 2 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Fresno State 52 FINAL
East Carolina 58
Morgan State 73 FINAL
Elon 74
Purdue 82 FINAL
Missouri 61
Hawaii 62 FINAL
Marist 55
Liberty 57 FINAL
North Florida 77
MD-Eastern Shore 55 FINAL
Bucknell 58
Western Carolina 70 FINAL
Georgia State 85
BYU 121 FINAL
Chaminade 85
Evansville 62 FINAL
Green Bay 64
Alabama 76 FINAL
Arizona State 71
UT Martin 74 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
SE Missouri St 54 FINAL
Bowling Green 62
NC Central 50 FINAL
Cincinnati 59
Fair-Dickinson 47 FINAL
Columbia 57
Citadel 55 FINAL
Florida State 66
Houston 63 FINAL
Harvard 84
William Peace 71 FINAL
High Point 88
Texas-Arlington 44 FINAL
Kentucky 92
St Francis-NY 60 FINAL
La Salle 73
Boston Univ 68 FINAL
New Hampshire 75
Chicago State 57 FINAL
Oakland 70
Ark-Pine Bluff 60 FINAL
Ohio 69
Hartford 54 FINAL
Quinnipiac 50
Saint Peters 68 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Jackson State 71 FINAL
St Bonaventure 79
Long Island 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 74
Hofstra 70 FINAL
South Florida 71
Western Ky 61 FINAL
Stony Brook 71
Loyola-Maryland 37 FINAL
Syracuse 70
Penn 67 FINAL
Temple 76
Detroit 82 FINAL
Toledo 79
Tennessee St 36 FINAL
Virginia 79
Northern Iowa 73 FINAL
Virginia Tech 54
Western Ill 49 FINAL
William & Mary 83
Ohio Valley 54 FINAL
Wofford 82
Toccoa Falls 40 FINAL
Presbyterian 63
Mount Ida 57 FINAL
UMass Lowell 102
Kansas State 68 FINAL
Arizona 72
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Army 80
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
Char Southern 80
Howard 68 FINAL
UMBC 54
VA Commonwealth 77 FINAL
Oregon 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
SMU 72
Jacksonville St 67 FINAL
Alabama A&M 61
TX A&M-CC 38 FINAL
Bradley 52
Eastern Ill 53 FINAL
Creighton 75
St Xavier 76 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 87
Northern Ariz 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
Nebraska Omaha 67 FINAL
Nebraska 80
Akron 72 FINAL
Penn State 78
NC A&T 54 FINAL
Saint Louis 57
Columbia International 55 FINAL
SC State 92
Troy 70 FINAL
Southern Miss 72
St Francis-PA 46 FINAL
Texas 78
Northwestern St 64 FINAL
Texas Tech 75
Loyola-Chicago 71 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 57
Southern U 59 FINAL
Tulane 74
Norfolk State 53 FINAL
Vanderbilt 63
Jarvis Christian 65 FINAL
Abilene Christian 91
MN-Crookston 63 FINAL
North Dakota St 64
Lamar 63 FINAL
Arkansas State 58
IUPUI 60 FINAL
Drake 73
San Francisco 47 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Miami-Florida 77 FINAL
Charlotte 74
Air Force 53 FINAL
Colorado 68
Boise State 86 FINAL
Idaho 75
Louisiana 76 FINAL
Oral Roberts 52
Buffalo 80 FINAL
Grand Canyon 64
Maryland 72 FINAL
Iowa State 63
Northwestern 55 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 46
Bristol University 63 FINAL
Sacramento St 97
Villanova 60 FINAL
Michigan 55
Pittsburgh 57 FINAL
San Diego St 74
Cal State Fullerton 49 FINAL
USC 53
Delaware 47 FINAL
Stanford 84
Ohio U 24 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 21
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Belmont 55 FINAL
Kent State 58
Robert Morris 75 FINAL
Coppin State 58
UMKC 48 FINAL
Western Ill 71
Manhattan 48 FINAL
La Salle 61
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
Arizona 61
Santa Clara 69 FINAL
LSU 67
Tulsa 67 FINAL
Texas Southern 64
SE Missouri St 57 FINAL
Ole Miss 58
Air Force 35 FINAL
Army 79
Towson 59 FINAL
UMBC 54
St Bonaventure 56 FINAL
Penn State 54
Texas-El Paso 43 FINAL
Kansas State 72
Cheyney 38 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 63
Johnson C. Smith 45 FINAL
NC A&T 76
Winthrop 71 FINAL
NC Central 63
USC Upstate 50 FINAL
SC State 60
Quinnipiac 52 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 112
Buffalo 54 FINAL
(8) Duke 88
Washington St 74 FINAL
Hampton 60
Bryant 67 FINAL
Brown 60
Vermont 75 FINAL
Central Conn St 77
St Francis-NY 50 FINAL
NJIT 57
(21) Rutgers 81 FINAL
Wagner 53
IUPU-Ft Wayne 63 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 90
Fairleigh Dickinson 66 FINAL
Monmouth 71
Jacksonville 59 FINAL
UCF 71
SIU-Edwardsville 76 FINAL
IUPUI 87
Duquesne 89 FINAL
Howard 63
Fordham 49 FINAL
Delaware 44
Saint Josephs 63 FINAL
Drexel 76
Liberty 62 FINAL
Elon 73
New Hampshire 39 FINAL
Penn 74
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
Akron 100
Grambling 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 97
Western Ky 67 FINAL
(12) Louisville 89
Arizona State 65 FINAL
Miami-Florida 61
Charleston Southern 64 FINAL
Florida 92
Georgia Southern 52 FINAL
(22) Georgia 93
Tenn Tech 67 FINAL
Mercer 73
Hillsdale 56 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 73
Ohio U 77 FINAL
Northern Ky 38
Gardner-Webb 69 FINAL
Appalachian St 77
Bucknell 54 FINAL
Youngstown St 69
Lafayette 66 FINAL
Rider 48
Lehigh 70 FINAL
Saint Peters 58
George Mason 79 FINAL
Navy 84
High Point 57 FINAL
Davidson 76
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Virginia Tech 62
SW Assemblies 57 FINAL
Houston Baptist 85
LSU-Alexandria 58 FINAL
Northwestern St 86
Wofford 55 FINAL
Jacksonville St 70
ULM 46 FINAL
(25) Miss State 80
Morgan State 43 FINAL
(20) Oklahoma St 73
Lyon 43 FINAL
Central Arkansas 59
Lamar 72 FINAL
Texas State 79
Mobile 47 FINAL
SE Louisiana 74
St Edwards 56 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 65
Lipscomb 71 FINAL
Murray State 74
UAB 61 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 51
Northern Iowa 45 FINAL
(17) Iowa 73
Southern U 62 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Harvard 79 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Colorado 77 FINAL
Denver 49
Portland State 56 FINAL
Oregon 63
Montana State 64 FINAL
San Diego 79
Idaho 77 FINAL
Wyoming 66
Pepperdine 76 FINAL
Cal Poly 69
Long Beach St 68 FINAL
Boise State 50
Nevada 48 FINAL
San Francisco 63
Yale 63 FINAL
Alaska-Anchorage 72
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close