Clayton on possible Vikings candidates

November, 22, 2010
11/22/10
5:17
PM ET
Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf hired then-Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress as head coach in 2006, just days after firing Mike Tice. In a crazy year in which 10 head coaches were hired, Childress was selected over Sean Payton, Eric Mangini and Mike McCarthy.

Interim head coach Leslie Frazier, the team's former defensive coordinator, has a decent chance to get the full-time job. But Wilf, a billionaire with a passion for the game, may be reluctant to hire a hot assistant coach. As he found out during Childress’ four-plus years, hiring a top assistant sometimes requires on-the-job training. Wilf had issues early with Childress’ inability to communicate major decisions. Wilf gives his coach a free hand, but he likes to be in the loop before big decisions become public. Here are other possible candidates:

Jon Gruden: Like the Dallas Cowboys if they don’t retain Jason Garrett, the Vikings could have Gruden at the top of the list. Just about everyone’s first choice for a head-coaching job last season, the ESPN “Monday Night Football” broadcaster has the charisma and resume that make him a strong candidate whenever he wants to return to coaching.

John Fox: The Carolina Panthers head coach’s contract is up at the end of this season. Like Gruden, Fox doesn’t need control of personnel. Wilf believes in a front office that has a strong general manager, so whoever is hired as head coach is expected to work with general manager Rick Spielman, whom the owner likes and respects.

Brian Billick: Although he may not be high on the list, the former Ravens head coach might draw interest. Billick was the Vikings’ offensive coordinator from 1993-98 when Minnesota had one of the NFL’s more exciting offenses. With quarterback Brett Favre expected to retire and Tarvaris Jackson unsigned after this season, the next coach must rebuild the passing game.

Scratch these guys: Bill Cowher and Bill Parcells. Cowher would want significant power in front-office decision-making, which goes against Wilf’s organizational model. Parcells would also want to run the franchise, and that’s power Wilf won’t surrender.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer

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