Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked Wednesday if he expected Brett Favre to return if he hadn't sent players Steve Hutchinson, Jared Allen and Ryan Longwell to the Hattiesburg, Miss., home of the quarterback, where they were able to convince the veteran quarterback to rejoin the Vikings.

"He might have come back, but we wanted him to return sooner," Childress said.

On Monday after practice, Hutchinson, Allen and Longwell didn't know about the idea to have them fly to Mississippi to try to convince Favre to come back. Two hours later they were on a private jet, headed for Favre's home.

"He [Childress] had asked us on behalf of the team, as leaders of the team, and it was more of a 'would you be willing to?' for the reason, we need an answer yes or no," Hutchinson revealed. "Brett will tell you he was back and forth in his own mind and obviously with the team over the last few weeks, so we kind of felt as an organization that it's getting closer to the start of the regular season. We would need to know one way or the other."

Hutchinson said he believes the trio were selected because all had a personal relationship with Favre. Apparently their arrival was a surprise to Favre.

"I know it was," Hutchinson said. "I don't know if he had an inkling that somebody was coming down. I think there was probably a little bit of hush-hush around the house, so he probably thought something was up. But I don't think he thought it would have been any of the players, without any kind of management or coach or anything."

After arriving at Favre's home, Hutchinson said, "We sat and talked to him a little bit, and kind of saw what he was thinking, and expressed our feelings towards the matter as well. He was back and forth. He wasn't really sure what he wanted to do and he's conveyed that to the front office and to players and Coach [Childress] over the last couple of weeks. So I think we went down there to just get a definite yes or no, clear-cut, just see what his answer was going to be.

"I'm sure he's probably had a list of why he should play and on the other side of the paper, why he shouldn't. He went through some of those things with us, and everything was legit he was saying, the for and against.

"We heard him out and we told him, the only thing we did -- if you want to call it convince him -- we just conveyed a message from the locker room that everybody truly enjoyed him being on this team, leading this team last year," Hutchinson said. "It was a fun year, about as much fun as you could have, as I've had in [nine] years, and everybody would love to have him back. But in the same breath, if he's decided that he's going to call it [a career] and he doesn't want to play, then that's fine with him, too."

But in the end, Favre was convinced he owed it to the players to return and got on the plane back to Minnesota.

The quarterback approached Hutchinson on Wednesday.

"He came up and he said he's here to have fun and win. The one thing he said is, he did reiterate the fact that he is here because of the guys."

Repko a good addition

Even before the Dodgers released Jason Repko in March, the Twins had their eyes on the outfielder and they signed the free agent late in spring training. He played at Class AAA Rochester until July 1, when he had to be called up or released, and he has been a great addition.

"He's been a good fit on our club the second half here," said Twins General Manager Bill Smith about Repko, who is hitting .267 and has been a great utility outfielder. "He'll be an arbitration-eligible player, and yes, we would have him again next year, have him under control. He's done a good job for us. He is a fourth outfielder, but he's a very valuable piece.

"Our scouts kind of identified early in spring training, out in Arizona, that he was going to be a 25th or 26th man [for the Dodgers] and if he was available, that we would have interest in him."


Trevor Mbakwe, the Gophers forward who was ineligible to play last fall because of a pending felony assault court case in Miami that was recently resolved, has had his meeting with Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith and is all set to join the team when they start practice Aug. 23. Meanwhile, Gophers guard Devoe Joseph, who suffered a quadriceps muscle injury while trying out for a Canadian national team, is a question mark for playing three September exhibition games in British Columbia.

If Gophers assistant basketball coach Vince Taylor does get the Illinois-Chicago job, he will have the chance to coach ex- Gophers forward Paul Carter, who transferred there to be closer to home. ... Meanwhile Justin Cobbs, who was a Gophers freshman point guard last year, has enrolled at California.

On Friday, Donald Mark Jr. will once again represent former Oklahoma State assistant coach Jimmy Williams before Judge Regina Chu in post-trial motions as the University of Minnesota appeals the $1.25 million award given to Williams in May over a job offer from Tubby Smith that was later rescinded.

Former Twins catching prospect Wilson Ramos has been called up by the Washington Nationals after hitting .317 with two home runs and six RBI in 15 games for Class AAA Syracuse. Ramos, who was traded to the Nationals in the deal for closer Matt Capps on July 29, had hit .241 with five home runs and 30 RBI in 71 games with Rochester.

Sports Illustrated picks the Gophers football team to finish last in the Big Ten with a 1-7 record. They predict the Gophers will finish 2-10 overall. They pick Ohio State to finish second in the nation, with Iowa sixth, Wisconsin 11th and Penn State 19th. ... The first job of Gophers offensive coordinator Jeff Horton was as a Minnesota graduate assistant for Lou Holtz in 1985.

Former Gophers football coach John Gutekunst reported that he has become the defensive backfield coach at Columbia, where former Gopher Norries Wilson is the head coach. Wilson, who played under Gutekunst at Minnesota is 1986, is in his fifth year as the Columbia coach, where he finished 4-6 last year.

On Thursday, former Gophers NCAA wrestling champion Cole Konrad, who has a 4-0 Mixed Martial Arts record, is fighting in the quarterfinals of the heavyweight tournament in the Bellator Fighting Championships vs. Rogent Lloret of Spain. The fight will be televised on Fox Sports North following the Twins-White Sox game.

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