Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.


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O'Brien would fit 'opposite' profile for Vikings

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: December 15, 2013 - 9:57 PM

The Vikings' discovery of an explosive passing game occurred on the same weekend that Pro Football Talk spread this rumor: Penn State coach Bill O'Brien's camp has been contacted by the Houston Texans and the Vikings.

There's no embarrassment in this from the standpoint of the Texans, since they already have fired Gary Kubiak. The Vikings will be not be pleased with this report, since Les Frazier still has a job.

What we do know is if ownership and General Manager Rick Spielman do use Frazier as the scapegoat for this failed season, it will be an O'Brien type that gets hired as the replacement. That's because the Vikings -- and most every team in major professional and big-time college sports -- follow this pattern:

When firing a coach, a team replaces him with the opposite.

This is particularly true in football, and has stood up through 53 seasons and eight coaches for the Vikings.

I don't think it was a search for the opposite when the Vikings' first coaching change was made after the 1966 season. It was more a case of General Manager Jim Finks knowing exactly who he wanted after Norm Van Brocklin "resigned'' amidst the chaos of quarterback Fran Tarkenton publicly demanding a trade.

Finks' football background was in the Canadian Football League. The best coach in the CFL was Winnipeg's Bud Grant. There was no coaching search. Finks simply told Bill McGrane, the Vikings' head of public relations, to go to the airport and pick up Grant.

"How will I know him?'' McGrane said.

"He'll be the guy who looks like the town marshal,'' Finks said.

Bud was a stoic who disciplined with a stare and the loss of playing time -- in contrast to the loud, profane, quick-tempered Van Brocklin.

If Van Brocklin had played a town marshal, it would've been in a Sam Peckinpah movie. Bud was Gary Cooper in High Noon (you can look it up).

When Grant resigned after the 1983 season, Mike Lynn felt he had a dynamic young coach on the staff who would bring a louder form of discipline and salesmanship to the team. He saw a need for the salesmanship part because the Gophers had hired Lou Holtz as the new coach in December 1983.

Lynn's choice, Les Steckel, was a disaster. Grant came back for a one-season rescue, then longtime assistant Jerry Burns was given the job (as should have been the case two years earlier) for the 1986 season. Burnsie was 180 degrees from Steckel ...a guy who knew he was coaching pros and not trying to motivate college kids.

The Vikings never quite got over the hump in Burnsie's six seasons. When they fell back in 1991, Lynn's replacement, Roger Headrick, wanted to hire his own guy and bring a harder edge to the job. He chose the new Sheriff, Dennis Green, over Pete Carroll, an affable fellow who would have been a much-younger, more-organized version of Burnsie..

Green was successful, even as he feuded with local media, ran off several terrific players and found scapegoats when playoff seasons didn't end as he had hoped. He lasted a decade and quit with one game left in the 2001 season, so as not to be fired.

The replacement was assistant Mike Tice, a character, a player's coach and better at the job than the credit he was given. Tice had a couple of inlfuential critics at Winter Park; disloyal people in the football operation who thought he was too forthcoming with information when it came to the media.

The Wilf boys were in charge by then, and couldn't wait to hire the opposite: Brad Childress, a coach with an edge and a proper amount of paranoia. The first year was his worst in how he treated people, and "Chilly'' loosened up for a while. But he certainly was hired to be the opposite of Tice.

And when Childress was fired at midseason, the first-ever Vikings coach to suffer that fate, Frazier was named as the interim ... a quiet man who could regain a locker room that Chilly had lost. He got the job full-time.

Frazier has less of a self-serving agenda than any coach in Vikings history. It's about team, players, trying to win.

The Vikings had no chance in his first season, they were a surprise playoff team in 2012, and they couldn't finish potential wins that could've gotten them to the playoffs in the mediocre NFL of 2013.

And now if Frazier gets fired, the Vikings will bring in a hard-nosed coach, a guy with a paranoid streak that causes him to distrust everyone outside the halls of Winter Park ... an O'Brien type, if not O'Brien.

O'Brien had a good first season at Penn State in 2012, worked it to get a lucrative extension, and now his background as Bill Belichick's assistant in New England has him as a hot item for NFL openings again.

O'Brien's crowning achievement to prove he would be the opposite of Frazier came after a 44-24 loss to Indiana in the Big Ten opener.

At his weekly press conference three days later, O'Brien refused to answer questions about the Indiana game. "I'm not here to talk about scholarships, sanctions, not last week's game ...'' O'Brien said with the even-keeled malice toward the media for which Belichick has the copyright.

Two days later, at O'Brien's live radio show where there are questions, the audience again was instructed to not mention the loss to Indiana.

Paranoid, a control freak ... exactly the opposite of Les Frazier. And that makes O'Brien, or another like him, as a heavy favorite to be the next coach up at Winter Park.

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Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Cleveland 11/6/14 7:25 PM
Cincinnati
Memphis 97 4th Qtr 1:33
Indiana 85
Cleveland 58 3rd Qtr
Chicago 52
Philadelphia 30 2nd Qtr 8:57
Milwaukee 29
Portland 9:00 PM
Sacramento
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Phoenix
LA Clippers 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 3 3rd Prd 13:40
Columbus 0
Los Angeles 1 3rd Prd
Detroit 4
Anaheim 0 2nd Prd
Dallas 0
Nashville 0 1st Prd 13:53
Calgary 0
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 17 2nd Qtr 7:54
Tulane 0
Tulsa 14 2nd Qtr 4:13
Memphis 10
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Memphis 11/7/14 6:30 PM
Temple
Utah State 11/7/14 7:00 PM
Wyoming
(12) Baylor 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(19) Oklahoma
(11) Kansas State 11/8/14 2:00 AM
(10) TCU
Hamilton 17 8:08
Ottawa 15
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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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 Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
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

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