Hartman: Vikings in need of stability at coach

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 5, 2014 - 12:01 AM
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In January 2010, then-Vikings coach Brad Childress, right, talked with then-defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier at Winter Park. Childress was fired 10 games into the 2010 season, replaced by Frazier, who was fired last week.

Photo: JIM MONE • Associated Press file,

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The Vikings had only five coaches in their first 40 seasons of their existence. But with the firing of Leslie Frazier last week, the team now is starting the process of hiring what will be its fourth coach in 10 seasons.

What’s even more disturbing is that the past three Vikings coaches were all fired only one season after taking the team to the playoffs, at most, and firing head coaches and assistant coaches is costing the Wilf family a lot of money.

Mike Tice went 8-8 in 2004, good enough for the playoffs, lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2004 divisional playoffs and was fired after posting a 9-7 record in 2005. Brad Childress reached the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, including the NFC Championship Game in 2009, and was fired after a 3-7 start to the 2010 season. And now Leslie Frazier, who led the team to a 10-6 record and a playoff appearance in 2012, is gone after posting a 5-10-1 record in 2013.

The only other franchises to have employed, or to be in the process of employing, that many head coaches since 2005 (not counting interim coaches) are the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins — although Joe Gibbs, one of four coaches for Washington, retired.

But those franchises, have, for the most part, been miserable since 2005.

The Vikings are 69-74-1 since 2005, a .483 winning percentage. The next best record amongthose teams is the Dolphins at 62-82. Three of the teams — the Lions, Raiders and Rams — have lost 100 games. The Bills and Browns have both lost at least 90 games.

The Bills, Browns, Raiders and Rams haven’t reached the playoffs during that span.

The Lions and Dolphins have each reached the playoffs once, with both teams losing their only game. The Buccaneers reached the playoffs twice, in 2005 and 2007, going 0-2.

The Chiefs, under new coach Andy Reid, on Saturday fell to 0-3 in their three playoff appearances since 2005, blowing a 28-point second-half lead at Indianapolis.

The Redskins have made three playoff appearances since 2005, going 1-1 under Gibbs in 2005, then losing their only game in 2007 under Gibbs and last year under just-fired Mike Shanahan. Again their circumstances are somewhat different from the Vikings because Gibbs was not fired.

So Frazier might have had a point when he told me Thursday that one of the main things hurting this Vikings franchise in recent years is a lack of stability at the head coaching position.

Twins ticket sales strong

The Twins have renewed more than 85 percent of their 2013 season tickets and expect to surpass 17,000 season ticket equivalents in 2014. They sold 19,000 in 2013.

Single tickets for the April 7 opener against Oakland will go on sale Jan. 24. Single tickets for the balance of the season will go on sale Feb. 22. Meanwhile, single-game season tickets for the Twins’ 16 spring training games in Fort Myers, Fla., go on sale Saturday.

With the remodeling of the Twins’ Lee County Sports Complex spring training facility at Fort Myers, the capacity of Hammond Stadium will go from 8,000 up to 9,300.

Popular Twins great Tony Oliva will be recognized by the Minnesota chapter of baseball writers as the winner of the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Diamonds Award Banquet on Jan. 23 at Target Field.

Looking at Gophers recruits

Jeff Jones, the Minneapolis Washburn standout running back who has verbally committed to the Gophers but also has taken visits at Iowa State and has a visit to Florida later this month, received a scholarship offer from Michigan this week.

Jones spoke with Rivals.com before the Under Armour All-America game about why he committed to Minnesota.

Jerry Kill is a very genuine guy and everywhere he goes with that staff, they win games,” Jones told the website. “You can see from his first year [at Minnesota] to now that they’ve won games and progressed every year. I see that the program is on the rise.”

Jones was asked what percentage he is committed to the Gophers. “I wouldn’t say a percentage,” he said. “I just know that Minnesota is a great school for me and they run the ball and coach Kill wants me there, but I‘m just taking my [official visits] to make sure that I’m not missing out on any opportunities to help my future.”

There was another future Gophers player in the Under Armour game, center Connor Mayes out of Van Alstyne, Texas. Mayes, the brother of Gophers offensive lineman Alex Mayes, is considered one of the best offensive linemen in the nation and won the Lineman Obstacles Challenge before the game.

Meanwhile, on the basketball front, former Prior Lake standout Carson Shanks left Utah State and the word is that he might be coming to the Gophers next season as a transfer. Shanks is a 7-foot, 220-pound center and would have four years of eligibility.

Sid’s Jottings

• Timberwolves superstar forward Kevin Love led the NBA in scoring in December at 30.0 points per game and ranked third in rebounding (13.7) behind two centers, the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (14) and Houston’s Dwight Howard (13.8). It’s the second time Love has averaged at least 30 points per game in a calendar month (30.7 in March 2012). Wolves center Nikola Pekovic finished 13th in scoring during the month with an average of 20.7 ppg.

• Fred Hoiberg’s 13th-ranked Iowa State men’s basketball team beat Texas Tech, coached by former Gophers coach Tubby Smith 73-62, on Saturday in Lubbock, Texas. Hoiberg’s Cyclones are 13-0, and their 13-game winning streak has tied a school record. Meanwhile, Smith is doing a good job at Texas Tech with an 8-6 record, considering the fact he was hired in April to take over a team that went 11-20 last season. All six of the Red Raiders’ losses are to major conference teams.

• It has been a great bowl season for college coaches who have previously spent time here. Tim Brewster, the former Gophers head coach, is tight ends coach for the Florida State team that will play Auburn for the national championship on Monday. Kevin Sumlin, the head coach at Texas A&M, and Mark Snyder, his defensive coordinator, are former Gophers assistants. The Aggies rallied from 21 down at halftime to beat Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Tuesday. George O'Leary, who was Vikings defensive coordinator under Mike Tice, for one year, coached Central Florida to a big 52-42 upset of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. Former Gophers player Tony Levine coached Houston to the BBVA Compass Bowl, where the Cougars lost to Vanderbilt 41-24 on Saturday.

• Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague has put together two groups of Gophers fans to help raise money and do other things to aid the athletic department in its fundraising efforts. Lou Nanne is leading a 12-person effort in fundraising for Teague’s $190 million facilities upgrade plan, and there is another group of 44 also active in helping Teague.

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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 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

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