Editor’s note: On every remaining Sunday in 2020, the Star Tribune will republish a memorable Sid Hartman column from the archives. This is Sid’s column from the Jan. 28, 1984, edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune — the day after Bud Grant retired, a scoop for Sid.
Bud Grant’s long-range plan was to coach the Vikings until his youngest son, Danny, now a high school junior, was ready to enroll in college.
But last week, Grant, who will be 57 in May, got to thinking that this may be the time for him to get out of coaching. Nobody loves the outdoors more than he does. He likes to spend his spare time at his cabin near Gordon, Wis. He has contended that a lot of coaches hang around too long and don’t quit until their health is so bad that they can’t enjoy retirement.
“I’m the kind of person who never thinks far ahead,” he said Friday. “The decision to quit was one I made just last week. I talked it over with my wife, Pat. She agreed that this was a good time to get out.”
Grant has some deferred compensation coming from the Vikings and the NFL has a pretty good pension for head football coaches. Of his six children, only Danny is living at home. Five have graduated from college and three are married. So most of his responsibilities have been taken care of.
Grant and General Manager Mike Lynn didn’t inform club President Max Winter of Grant’s decision until they visited him at his winter home in Honolulu yesterday afternoon.
“I was returning home from a walk when I noticed Bud and Mike sitting on my porch,” Winter said. “I was hoping that nothing was wrong. And when he told me of his decision, the tears rolled down my eyes.
“We’ve had a great association. Bud has been in complete charge of the football operations. Neither Mike nor myself ever told Bud how to coach the team. He had never given any hint of retiring. So I was completely surprised when he told he was going to quit. I don’t know how we will replace him. He was such a winner.”
No plan to coach
Grant, who was 29 when he got his first coaching job with Winnipeg, said he hadn’t planned to become a coach.
“Max talked to me about the job when the Vikings were organized,” he said. “But at the time, we [Winnipeg] had just won a [CFL] championship and I had signed a new contract. I didn’t think I wanted to leave a good situation and coach an expansion team in the NFL. But when Jim Finks called me in 1967, it was a different story.”
It took just one season before the Vikings were in the playoffs. And since then they have dominated the Central Division.
Recently, Finks kidded Grant about retiring.
“You aren’t going to wait until you get old like a lot of these coaches,” Finks told him at a recent reunion of a Vikings Super Bowl team. “This rat race is just too tough for anybody in this business.”
Finks had quit as Bears general manager. Shortly afterward he was named president of the Chicago Cubs.
Grant recalled that remark yesterday.
“Yes, some coaches stay in the game too long,” he said. “I didn’t want to make that mistake.”
The Twins and Ron Simon, agent for Kent Hrbek, have exchanged figures that will be used if they go to arbitration. The Twins offered $300,000 for one year; Simon is asking for $425,000. The arbitration for Hrbek will be held in mid-February in New York unless the parties can agree. The arbitrator must pick one of the two figures. Hrbek was paid $110,000 last year.
University of Minnesota President C. Peter Magrath has appointed a committee of 10 to help raise the additional money needed to build the new covered football building, weight rooms and meeting rooms for Lou Holtz and the Gopher football team. The university has asked the Legislature to appropriate $1.5 million. The building could cost as much as $4.5 million. Jaye Dyer is committee chairman. Other members are Wayne Jimmerson, Mike Wright, Bob Price, Lt. Gov. Marlene Johnson, Jim Ramstad, Wendy Anderson, Bill Maddox, Harvey Mackay and Bob Odegard.
The proposed $1.6 million second floor addition to the Bierman Building has been put on hold until a decision is made on the type of football structure that will be built.
Jim Sherman, former University of Minnesota assistant football coach, was a candidate for the head coaching job at Southern Colorado. But he wasn’t among the final three.
Art Meadowcroft, former Gopher tackle who has been offensive line coach at Golden Valley Lutheran for the past five years, credits Brigham Young football coach LaVell Edwards for helping him get the post of offensive line coach at Long Beach State.
Jerry Reichow and Frank Gilliam of the Vikings’ personnel department are in New Orleans, where two of the NFL scouting groups are checking 300 college players who will be available for the draft. No Gopher senior players were invited.