Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is approaching his first coaching search in charge of the team with the same approach he takes to the NFL draft – analytical and extensive.
Spielman said the decision to fire Leslie Frazier after three-plus seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings took place Monday morning after meeting with ownership Sunday night. But Spielman also pointed out that it was the Wilf ownership group that hired Frazier.
This time around, Spielman will be spearheading the search and the Wilfs will be getting involved when the candidates are narrowed down to two or three sometime in the coming weeks, despite the general manager saying the team will have interviews lined up in the next three or four days.
"The timeline on putting a new head coach in place? Ideally, you would like to have that done by the Senior Bowl," Spielman said Monday afternoon. "That's usually the time frame where it gives the head coach an opportunity to not only interview our coaches currently on staff but also put together the best coaching staff possible. But that's not going to be the ultimatum. If it takes longer, we will do that."
The Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., is Jan. 25, but the week of practice leading up to that game is usually a job fair for assistant coaches looking to catch on with another team. That could be an ideal time for a new head coach to meet with candidates in person for any remaining openings.
"It will be a very extensive search. I've sliced every way you can slice it," Spielman said of his search for the next head coach. "I've looked at 13 different categories where coaches come out of … so there is a long list of areas that you can look for in a head coach."
The Vikings' search will not be limited to coaches with head coaching experience, or only college or only pro, or coordinators on one side of the ball or the other. In typical analytical fashion for Spielman, he has already researched which type of coach has the greatest success rate in the NFL. His findings? Nothing conclusive.
"So that's why we have to do this extensive process, and we have to go out and find the right head coach we think is going to lead us into the future and to give us the best chance to take the next step forward," he said.
Despite the Vikings having only one Pro Bowl player this year – running back Adrian Peterson – Spielman said there are plenty of positives for the next Vikings coach to build upon.
"I think this is a very attractive job. I think when you talk to people on the outside (about) the young talent that we do have on this roster, with all the new coming in, the new stadium and potential facilities online coming in, I don't think we're in a total rebuilding mode," Spielman said. "A coach is going to come in as a partner that I look to work hand-in-hand with, and we have great ownership that is willing to do whatever it takes to put a winning product on the field. We're going to be in a great cap situation. It's a situation where a head coach comes in and I feel it can be a quick turnaround."
The Vikings ended this season with less than $1 million in cap space despite carrying over an additional $8 million in cap space from 2012. Now they have several big contracts expiring, including the $17 million in cap space taken up by Jared Allen. All total, they could save more than $30 million by not re-signing their own free agents.
Spielman said there no clear frontrunner for the job right now.
"We don't have ‘a guy.' I think there's a lot of potential candidates out there," he said. "I don't think everybody needs to panic (and say), ‘This team already hired a guy. This team already hired a guy. What are the Vikings doing?' We are going to go through our process and do our due diligence and I think there is enough potential candidates out there that we will be able to get the guy that we want."
That statement could have been in response to the Vikings hiring Brad Childress in 2006, before Spielman was with the organization. With Childress set to interview for the Green Bay Packers job, the Wilfs didn't want him to leave town and hired him. Columnists later criticized the organization for being too hasty with that hire.
When Childress was fired with six games remaining in 2010, Frazier was given the job on an interim basis and then hired after finishing with a 3-3 record post-Childress.
This time around?
"We will interview extensively. A lot," Spielman said.
The first candidates to emerge publicly is Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. The Vikings want to interview both of them, according to ESPN and FOX Sports, respectively. The Cleveland Browns are also reportedly interested in talking with those two coordinators.
Before they fired Frazier, the Vikings got input from players, including Adrian Peterson, who said he would talk to management and ownership after Sunday's game in support of Frazier. After Frazier was fired on Monday, Peterson declined to comment in the locker room.
Spielman said he also talked with the leadership council of players that Frazier formed and wants to eventually talk with all the veterans on the roster.
"I wanted to hear their opinions. Mark and Zygi sat in there with me as we talked to the players as well," Spielman said. "I understand how difficult change is for people and how difficult change is because it's the unknown. But I also know sometimes when you make that change it also can bring a spark as well."
Spielman said the organization has the "utmost respect" for Frazier, but the general manager and owners are looking for winning on a more consistent basis. Frazier compiled a 21-32-1 record in the regular season as head coach of the Vikings.
"This was an emotional day and an extremely difficult decision," owner Zygi Wilf said. "You know that he's a true professional and a very giving person. We have great appreciation for Leslie's efforts, but we believe a change was needed to build a successful team moving forward."
Now comes the replacement process.
"Talking to ownership, we will be very busy," Spielman said. "I just told them, ‘Don't plan on any stadium meetings for the next two weeks.'"
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Vikings want extensive search for next coach
Viking Update Top Stories
Cutler returns, praising Vikings defenseBears QB Jay Cutler is returning to action and expects some rust, but he has immense respect for the Minnesota Vikings defense.
Viking Update2:43 PM
VIDEO: Bradford breaks down offensive issuesWhile Sam Bradford has generally had an impressive start to his time with the Minnesota Vikings, that didn't translate last week. He discusses the offensive struggles against the…
Viking Update2:33 PM
VIDEO: Zimmer blasts report, talks BearsMinnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer defends his character after an erroneous report that was later corrected went viral, but Zimmer settled in to talk Bears mostly on Thursday.
Viking Update1:39 PM
Vikings look to turn the pageComing off their first loss of the season, the Minnesota Vikings are looking to shake the label of being soft and get back to their winning ways at Soldier Field Monday, a place…
Viking Update12:28 PM
Patterson sits out; Treadwell, Wright returnThe Minnesota Vikings’ rotating injury concerns at wide receiver continued this week.
Viking Update11:52 AM