If the debacle of 2011 wasn’t enough to convince Zygi Wilf that a change in philosophy is required, then nothing ever will be. When I say “change in philosophy” I’m talking about the whole approach to hiring from the top of the organization on down. The current approach, the one the Wilfs have clung to since buying the team, is characterized by an apparent extreme aversion to pursuing known quantities in filling major roles. Go back to last off-season. The Wilfs could’ve gone after Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator, but instead brought in the relatively untested Bill Musgrave. They could’ve attempted to hire a name defensive coordinator or at least a genuine up-and-comer in the assistant ranks but instead stuck with Fred Pagac (we know how that worked out). Even Leslie Frazier, despite being thought of as a hot candidate, was not exactly a man of vast experience in running a team. Jim Harbaugh was more battle-tested, even if only as a college coach, but the Wilfs elected to stay with Frazier. Look where the 49ers stand now compared to the Vikings and you can understand why many fans are frustrated with the decision to not even sniff around Harbaugh.
The point here isn’t to go back over every Wilf hire with a fine-toothed comb. What I’m doing is simply pointing out the consistency in the Wilfs’ hiring approach. From day 1 the Wilfs have demonstrated one thing over-and-over: they have no interest in going after big names when it comes to filling front office or coaching vacancies. So all of you out there pining after Bill Polian and/or Steve Spaguolo? I wouldn’t get your hopes up.
The whole thing is maddening if you ask me. Why shouldn’t the Vikings at least take a look at blowing up the current organization and hiring a man of Bill Polian’s stature? Yes I realize the Colts haven’t drafted well the last few years, but it isn’t even about the personnel side of things necessarily. What Polian brings is practical knowledge about how to build a winning organization. You can quibble with this or that draft decision or personnel move but what you can’t argue is that the Colts were a solid operation under the Polians. Hiring that crew would give the Vikings instant credibility. It would help attract free agents. It would send a jolt of energy through a fanbase that has reason to be disengaged after a disastrous season. And most importantly, it would finally give the Vikings some leadership at the top, a sense of genuine organizational structure instead of the muddle they’ve been working with since the Wilfs took over.
But it’s all moot because the Wilfs won’t do it. It’s the same with Steve Spagnuolo. The former Rams coach is probably destined for Philadelphia anyway, but does that mean you can’t at least call the man just in case? Maybe he hates Andy Reid more than everyone thinks. Maybe he doesn’t want to go back to Philly. Maybe he’d like the challenge of rebuilding the once-proud Vikings defense. I personally would love to see Spagnulo come on-board. If there’s anything the Vikings need it’s a change from their boring, safe Cover-2 scheme to something more dynamic and blitz-oriented. Spags, a disciple of Jim Johnson, would bring that more aggressive attitude. Plus I’m guessing we wouldn’t have to worry about defensive players ignoring Spagnuolo’s calls. But, as we know, the Wilfs won’t even call Spags. They’ll replace the out-going Fred Pagac with some nobody defensive coordinator, or even worse, promote Mike Singletary just because he’s Leslie Frazier’s buddy.
The Wilfs are creatures of maddening consistency. They have consistently avoided making splashy coaching and front-office hires, choosing instead to spend their money on big-name (and sometimes fading) veterans. After the Wilfs’ comments to Sid Hartman, we can be certain that approach is not going to change. If the Vikings do get a GM, it will be Rick Spielman. Bill Polian need not apply or even inquire. What has to happen for the Wilfs to at least consider going against their inclinations and taking a look at someone with a real track record? 3-13 didn’t do it. Maybe 0-16 would.