Dec. 30, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith on the sidelines in the first half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
With Leslie Frazier likely on his way out the door, Vikings fandom is busy putting together its wish list of potential new head coaches. That list has lots of names on it, some realistic, some not so much.
Fans seem especially enamored of retread coaches, particularly the guys with big names: your Jon Grudens, your Bill Cowhers, your Brian Billicks. Heck, you can even throw Rex Ryan on there. For some reason, there are people who want to hire that guy as head coach.
I’ve even seen Rob Ryan thrown out there, though for the life of me I can’t see the appeal.
You want a head start on paring down your wish list? Throw off every name I just mentioned. Cause none of those guys are coming to Minnesota.
Throw off Mike Tomlin too. I know Viking fans love Tomlin forever and ever, but he’s not getting fired by Pittsburgh. And after the way he managed the end of that Steelers-Packers game, frankly I’m not sure that I would want him even if he did get fired.
Sorry fans, but speculating about those big-name wish list guys is totally unrealistic and a bit silly. You want realistic speculation? You’re going to have to dial back your expectations.
You’re Viking fans, you should be good at dialing back expectations by now.
How far do we want to go in dialing that back? How does the name Lovie Smith strike you?
That’s a name that’s now being thrown out there. Don Banks mentions both Smith and former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt in his Black Monday primer article on SI.com.
Banks’ reasoning on this is pretty solid I think…and it’s something a lot of Viking fans aren’t going to want to hear. To put it bluntly: Minnesota just isn’t a very desirable landing spot right now due to the stadium situation. The two years the Vikes will have to spend outdoors at tiny, amenity-challenged TCF Bank will be a significant factor for any coach looking at the Vikings.
According to Banks, you can already rule out the hottest college coach out there, Bill O’Brien. Any other big-time college coaches who might throw their hat into the ring…basically rule them out too.
Take out the hot names and what are the Vikings left with? The second-tier retread market. Lovie Smith and Ken Whisenhunt. Guys who already flamed out one place and would just be happy to score any job. They’re not likely to be as picky. They won’t mind spending two years in relative gulag.
Why not throw Norv Turner on there while we’re at it? Charlie Weis? Romeo Crennel?
But wait, it gets worse. The other scenario Banks considers, I personally would call this prospect unspeakable. But right now it looks like a distinct possibility. It could be that the Vikings look at this whole limbo situation and decide, you know what, screw it. Let’s just keep Leslie Frazier.
It actually makes sense when you think about it. The team is essentially going to be a lame duck for two years, stuck in Siberia Bank Stadium. Who better to lead them than a lame duck coach? Emphasis on “lame.”
You would think a man with any pride would turn down such a job, the job of fill-in coach for a franchise that is essentially punting away the next two seasons. But it’s not like Leslie Frazier will have a lot of better options out there. Maybe he could score a head job in the MAC. Defensive coordinator at some mid-tier SEC school, maybe. DBs coach in the NFL, if he’s lucky.
So, you might as well start preparing yourself for the possibility of Leslie Frazier sticking around. And even if Frazier goes, you can forget about anyone with a hot name coming in. You can forget about some former Super Bowl winner taking over the seat. Odds are, the next Vikings coach will be some guy who can’t get a sniff anywhere else. It will be some guy on his last chance.
Lovie Smith? Oh yay.