Souhan: Zygi Wilf can't afford to botch Vikings' coaching hire

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2014 - 12:00 AM
hide

Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and head coach Leslie Frazier spoke during practice on Wednesday. ] CARLOS GONZALEZ cgonzalez@startribune.com June 19, 2013, Eden Prairie, Minn., Winter Park, Minnesota Vikings minicamp ORG XMIT: MIN1306191755248528

We know Zygi now.

We could pick him out of a crowd of Groucho Marx impersonators.

We could read his mind while he tossed a shovelful of snow at the groundbreaking for the ZygiDome.

We know that he loves the New York Giants and tried to emulate the Philadelphia Eagles.

We know that he vows to bring a championship to Minnesota.

We know Zygi Wilf now, after close to a decade of owning the Vikings.

What we don’t know is whether or how he will accomplish his goal.

But we’ll know a lot more, very soon.

Wilf is about to make his first coaching hire as an experienced, sentient NFL owner. This will be the hire that defines him.

He inherited Mike Tice from previous owner Red McCombs, and fired Tice minutes after a victory over the Bears in the Metrodome that made Tice 9-7 for the 2005 season.

That he would fire Tice was a foregone conclusion. That he did it in the wrong place, at the wrong time while displaying what looked like a lack of self-control marked Wilf as an amateur, as surely as the golfer who puts the glove on the wrong hand.

Wilf’s hiring of Brad Childress was similarly emotional. He interviewed Childress in a Minneapolis hotel, and was so impressed he refused to let Childress leave to interview with Green Bay, which subsequently hired Mike McCarthy.

Wilf had no choice but to fire Childress after a home loss to the Packers in 2010 in which Childress lost control of his team, and Wilf made a logical choice in naming Leslie Frazier his interim head coach.

When Frazier displayed signs of leadership, Wilf made another reasonable and convenient decision: Giving Frazier a few years to prove himself as a head coach.

Everything Wilf has done as an NFL owner is prologue to this hire.

For the first time, Wilf will be relying on his own knowledge of the league rather than seeking hints from other owners and the league office, which is how he tumbled to Childress, a representative of the model-franchise Eagles.

For the first time, Wilf will be hiring a coach with help from a full-time general manager, Rick Spielman, who is sure to present Wilf with binders filled with detailed information on every breathing coach in North America, complete with their sleeping patterns and favorite Will Ferrell movies.

For the first time, Wilf should be able to separate hype from reality, and allow knowledge and experience to overrule his excitable nature.

His competitors already have done him a favor.

The Texans hired Bill O’Brien, whose claim to competence was working in the vicinity of Tom Brady and helping Penn State recover from scandal enough to compete in the mediocre Big Ten.

The Buccaneers hired Lovie Smith, perhaps the most boring competent coach in recent NFL history.

All of the candidates Wilf should want still are available. He can opt for the familiar (Darrell Bevell), the nostalgic (Jack Del Rio), the flavor of the month (Adam Gase) or the overdue assistant (Mike Zimmer).

He can look for the next Mike McCarthy or Mike Tomlin, an assistant whose leadership skills outweigh a thin résumé, or the next Pete Carroll or Bill Belichick, the retread head coach who learned from his previous firing.

There is a great coach out there waiting to be hired. Now, for the first time since he bumbled through his first news conference as Vikings owner, Wilf should be prepared to display prescience.

Over his years as an NFL owner, Wilf has learned to avoid podiums and emotionalism.

Sometime in the next month, he’ll make the hire that will define him as an NFL owner.

Zygi should be ready for his close-up. Zygi should be ready to prove he can do more than write out a check.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Vikings have options: NFL head coaches come in all forms

    Saturday January 4, 2014

    As the Vikings have acknowledged, there is no one tried and true method when it comes to hiring NFL coaches.

  • Zygi Wilf hired and fired Brad Childress, left, and Leslie Frazier. His next hire will define his legacy as Vikings owner.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 81 4th Qtr
Sacramento 81
Oklahoma City 63 3rd Qtr
Golden State 65
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 3 2nd Prd 12:23
Los Angeles 2
Edmonton 3 2nd Prd 6:36
San Jose 2
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
FIU 58 FINAL
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
LSU 79 FINAL
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 31 2nd Half 4:55
Idaho 75
DePaul 51 2nd Half 5:41
Oregon State 78
Nevada 46 2nd Half 7:55
Pacific 49
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 32 2nd Half 10:59
Utah State 37
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
UCLA 67
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
IUPUI 95
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
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 NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close