I asked all of you on Twitter to come up with "measured hot takes" with "logic and thought" behind them — and allow me to either agree or disagree. Here is the latest installment:
Though I can hear my best friend yelling "Nooooooooooooooooooooooo" from a thousand miles away in North Carolina, I am going to give this question an honest appraisal.
I have been of the opinion for a while that Mike Tice performed at least adequately as Vikings head coach given what he was handed: the hangover years after a talented team came up short repeatedly in the playoffs, following Dennis Green's firing in 2001 ... almost all of it under the watch of owner Red McCombs, who often talked about the Super Bowl but probably would have liked it even more if it was a literal large vessel for all the pennies he pinched.
Tice still had a young Daunte Culpepper and a young-ish Randy Moss when he took over on a permanent basis in 2002. But Cris Carter was gone. Robert Smith was gone. A once-dominant offensive line had holes. The defense, which hadn't been the team's strength when it reached the NFC title games after the 1998 and 2000 seasons, was on the decline. The team's drafts in 2000 and 2001 didn't exactly restock the cupboard on either side of the ball.
Tice's 2002 Vikings started 3-10 but won their final three games. The 2003 team famously started 6-0, then even more famously faded to a 9-7 finish (losing to all four teams that would finish 4-12 that season, including Arizona on the final fateful play of the year).
The 2004 team started 5-1, faded to 8-8, backed into the playoffs with help, upset the Packers at Lambeau Field and then tried to take advantage of Randy Moss' apathy on a failed fake punt against the Eagles in a playoff loss. Moss was traded not long after that.
The 2005 Vikings, which might have been Tice's finest overall job on the field, fell to 2-5 when Culpepper shredded his knee against Carolina in the wake of the Love Boat scandal, somehow won their next SIX games with Brad Johnson stepping in, and finished 9-7. Tight end Jermaine Wiggins led the team in receptions. Mewelde Moore was the leading rusher. Let it all wash over you.
By that point, the Wilfs owned the Vikings. They couldn't wait to fire Tice, doing so at the Metrodome not long after the Vikings won their finale against the Bears.
The aforementioned Love Boat scandal and various other off-field embarrassments — including the Whizzinator and Tice's ticket scalping — were far more to blame than anything that happened on the field.
So how do we evaluate his tenure? He went 32-32 in his four full seasons as permanent head coach, including 1-1 in the playoffs. Beating the Packers is a huge power move.
But given the Vikings' maddening inconsistency under Tice and the off-field transgressions, calling him a "good" coach is a pretty big stretch.
At the same time, he was done few favors during the McCombs ownership era. There is a part of me that wonders how a Tice team with better talent and/or resources — like the 1998 or 2009 team, for example — might have fared.
One thing that's not in doubt: Tice could coach up an offensive line, and that's no small accomplishment.