Coaching in the NFL is a tough business. Just ask Brad Childress, fired as coach of the Vikings on Monday.

Going into Thanksgiving a year ago, the Vikings were 9-1, Childress was a candidate for NFL Coach of the Year and the team became a favorite to win the Super Bowl.

And last January in New Orleans, the Vikings came within one 12-men-on-the-field penalty and an interception from going to the Super Bowl, a Super Bowl they probably would have won.

So after compiling records of 8-8 in 2007, 10-6 in 2008 and 12-4 in 2009, Childress is out of a job because he is 3-7 this year.

It just doesn't make sense that Childress lost his ability to do all the things an NFL coach has to do in the span of a year.

However, when you operate a team in the NFL, it all comes down to the financial aspects.

Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf are good people. This was a very emotional decision made by them Sunday night after the Vikings players embarrassed the franchise with a horrible performance in a 31-3 home loss to the Packers. The Wilf brothers and their advisers no doubt were convinced that Childress had lost control of the team.

When contacted by me on Monday, Childress naturally was sad that he won't be coaching the Vikings anymore. But he sang the praises of the Wilf family for giving him the opportunity to be a head coach, continued to praise the players in the locker room, was very happy that Leslie Frazier got the opportunity and promised that he would coach again.

There is no doubt in my mind that had the Vikings defeated the Packers, and had fans been celebrating rather than criticizing the coach, that Childress still would be employed today.

The fans, the sponsors and a great number of second-guessers had come down hard on Childress because of the team's losing record, and the Wilfs were convinced the franchise needed a change.

Unfortunately, you can't fire 53 football players, so the coach becomes the victim.

One of the reasons Childress was fired was because the secondary that was provided for him has proven in seven defeats that it would have a hard time defending against a good college passing game.

Brad Childress is a good person and a great football coach, and his record proves that he can coach at this level. Some NFL club will get a good break one day when he gets an opportunity to be a head coach again.

Needed fresh start

Five years ago, the Wilfs fired coach Mike Tice and brought in Childress because, according to them, they needed a fresh start.

Now in 2010, with the team at 3-7 and struggling, the Wilfs believed they needed another fresh start and felt that Frazier should be the coach to do it for the rest of the season.

Mark Wilf said he doesn't expect Frazier to be a miracle man and win the next six games although he would love to see it happen.

"After losing to Green Bay and being in the position where we were very close to being mathematically out [of the playoffs], we felt that was the time to make the decision," Mark Wilf said.

Said Zygi Wilf: "The fans have nothing to do with it, the stadium has nothing to do with it, our goal has always been to make a world-class organization. We won two divisions in a row, we came as close as one can get to get to the Super Bowl. Brad Childress was instrumental in putting that together. It just was the time right now, this particular time, to make that change in the best interest and the long-term interest of the franchise."

Well, I am glad for Frazier, who had applied for seven NFL head coaching jobs and was turned down by all. But players win and lose games, and if the Vikings don't get some better players on the offensive line and especially in the secondary, changing coaches won't mean a thing.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com