Hartman: Mark Wilf says energy, honesty got Zimmer hired as Vikings coach

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 19, 2014 - 12:15 AM
hide

Mike Zimmer impressed the Vikings with his honest and direct answers during the interview process. Mark Wilf said Zimmer was ‘‘very honest, very personable, very strong in his presence.’’

Photo: GLEN STUBBE • gstubbe@startribune.com,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Mark Wilf, co-owner and president of the Vikings, was asked why he thought replacing Leslie Frazier with Mike Zimmer would result in a big improvement from last year’s 5-10-1 record.

“It was not an easy decision to come to, but we felt the direction of this football team needs the kind of accountability and energy a coach Zimmer brings,” Wilf said. “I think it’s a performance business, and unfortunately our team didn’t have the record that we expected or were hoping for. It’s a performance business, we need to move on, and we think coach Zimmer is going to be that person to get us there.”

What was it about Zimmer that impressed the Vikings search committee?

“We interviewed a lot of gentlemen that we feel are going to be great head coaches in this league,” Wilf said. “But when we sat down with him his energy and his honesty and his directness and his track record — he’s been a proven coach, done great things on the defensive side of the ball, and that’s certainly an area of our team that’s going to be a strong thing that we need to improve on, as the whole team. He brings us all of that.”

Asked if it was tough for the Wilf family to fire Frazier, Wilf said: “Very tough, we have a lot of admiration for Leslie. He did a lot of great things for this ballclub and this organization and we wish him all the best for him and his family going forward. I know he has a position as a defensive coordinator in Tampa, so we’re happy for him and his family. We have a ton of respect, so it was a very tough time, but we wish him all the best going forward.”

Certainly, if most of the key free agents on the roster, such as Jared Allen, Everson Griffen and Toby Gerhart, aren’t re-signed for 2014, the Vikings will lack talent, but if they are brought back, we will find out if last season’s tough losses were because of coaching or a lack of talent.

Wilf was asked to give his first impressions upon meeting Zimmer: “Very honest, very personable, very strong in his presence, and someone who is going to be a good leader of players and men.”

He also said Vikings ownership had a chance to speak with Mike Brown, the longtime owner of the Bengals, who had nothing but positive things to say about Zimmer.

One of the important keys for the Vikings moving forward is how their draft picks continue to develop, considering how rookies such as Cordarrelle Patterson and Xavier Rhodes improved as last season went on. Wilf discussed that process going forward with Zimmer.

“Drafting talent is one thing, but developing that talent, especially given the structure of the league and so forth is not always easy, but we want to give those draft picks an opportunity to grow,” Wilf said.

Involved all the way

Wilf said he was present for almost every interview with a potential coach, adding that the process gave a great deal of insight.

“You’re always learning, and you’re always trying to find what works and what doesn’t work,” he said. “Yes you’re finding a head coach but at the same time you’re also learning how we can all get better in terms of getting this franchise in the championship direction.”

The Wilfs have hired three coaches in nine years — Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier and Zimmer. Wilf was asked what they look for in a candidate.

“I can tell you this, the process that we came to to hiring coach Zimmer was very thorough and we interviewed seven coaches in person and went through dozens of candidates in terms of reviewing them,” he said. “I think it’s a credit to Rick Spielman and their entire team that they put such a thorough process together and I think it’s a credit to coach Zimmer that he was able to stand out in such a good group and to be our head coach.”

Hawkeyes tough

The Gophers men’s basketball team has performed well to date in winning three conference games, but the next two games, at Iowa on Sunday and Wisconsin at home on Wednesday, will give you a better idea of how good Richard Pitino’s team is.

The Gophers will be facing a rejuvenated Hawkeyes team on Sunday. Iowa also has won three of its past four games against Minnesota.

Iowa, which has three close losses against top teams, finally got the big victory it has been looking for this season when it beat then-No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus last Sunday. The Buckeyes then came to Williams Arena and lost again, giving the Gophers their first signature victory as well.

If the Gophers are to have any chance of winning their next two games, they are going to need some improved offensive production out of senior Austin Hollins, who was supposed to be one of the Gophers go-to players this season.

Hollins has had a rough start to Big Ten play, averaging 7.4 points per game on 30 percent shooting.

Sid's Jottings

 While most of the Gophers football squads in the past have lost a number of players at the end of a semester, Jerry Kill’s roster has had only two leave: quarterback Philip Nelson and wide receiver Jamel Harbison. Early rumors have Nelson going to Wyoming under new coach Craig Bohl.

 The Gophers football team again did well in the classroom with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0, or a B average. Across the athletic department, 24 of the 25 men’s and women’s teams had a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.

 Three college seniors with local ties will be playing in the 2014 Senior Bowl in Alabama on Saturday: Gophers defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, Miami (Fla.) offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson of Cretin-Derham Hall and Billy Turner, a tackle at North Dakota State who attended Mounds View.

 The Timberwolves would like to get into their new basketball facilities in the Block E building, which would include the Lynx and other offices, for the start of the 2014-15 season. Wolves owner Glen Taylor says progress is being made in negotiating a deal and hopes to have it done soon.

 Former Osseo basketball standout Sam Dower is having a great year with Gonzaga, and he had a season-high 28 points in Saturday’s 82-72 victory at Loyola Marymount. Two days earlier, he was 7-for-7 from the floor and scored 18 points in a 70-53 victory over Pepperdine.

 Harvard is looking to make its third consecutive NCAA tournament behind the stellar play of Siyani Chambers, the former Hopkins standout. Chambers, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season, is leading the team in assists at 4.7 per game and is second on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game. Coming off the bench is Jonah Travis, a DeLaSalle product who averages 6.2 points per game.

Virginia native and Minnesota Duluth product Matt Niskanen is tied for the NHL lead in plus/minus at plus-26. The Penguins defenseman has six goals and 19 assists this season.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 32 FINAL
Team Carter 28
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 106 FINAL
New Orleans 109
Indiana 106 FINAL
Orlando 99
LA Clippers 120 FINAL
Phoenix 100
Minnesota 100 FINAL
Atlanta 112
Detroit 110 FINAL
Toronto 114
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
San Antonio 101
Boston 111 FINAL
Golden State 114
Washington 117 FINAL
Denver 115
Houston 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 87
Team Toews 17 FINAL
Team Foligno 12
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 80 FINAL
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 55 FINAL
Albany 69
Niagara 64 FINAL
Iona 87
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
NC State 78
Belmont 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 55
Creighton 50 FINAL
Villanova 71
Northwestern 67 FINAL
Maryland 68
Washington 56 FINAL
Utah 77
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Colorado 68 FINAL
Washington St 73
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Vermont 63 FINAL
UMass Lowell 72
Iowa State 58 FINAL
(8) Texas 57
Southern Ill 61 FINAL
Wichita State 80
(15) Duke 74 FINAL
(12) North Carolina 67
Miami-Florida 55 FINAL
(4) Louisville 68
(21) Minnesota 61 FINAL
(25) Rutgers 66
California 72 FINAL
UCLA 57
(11) Stanford 71 FINAL
USC 60
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 NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close