Planning for firing had to be done in advance

Vikings GM Rick Spielman said the decision to fire Leslie Frazier wasn't made until Monday morning, but planning for the replacement was clearly being done in advance of the move.

The Vikings announced Monday that Leslie Frazier has been relieved of his head coaching duties. That afternoon, general manager Rick Spielman said that the decision to fire Frazier wasn't made until the morning after the team's regular-season finale. For Vikings players and fans, one has to hope that a backup contingency plan was in place before that decision was finalized.

The flurry of firings that occurred yesterday brought the list of teams searching for new head coaches to six, as the Vikings, Lions, Buccaneers and Redskins joined the Browns and Texans as teams that are in the search process for a new head coach. One of the reasons that they call it Black Monday is that, when a team knows it's going to fire a head coach, they want to get the replacement process started as soon as possible, leading to several firings every year on the Monday following the regular season.

The Vikings have already been linked to candidates such as Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Denver coordinators Adam Gase (offense) and Jack Del Rio (defense). Due to league rules, teams can't talk to coaches whose season is still ongoing with one exception. Teams that have a playoff bye week have a one-week window of opportunity for assistant coaches to interview for job openings. Technically, the Vikings could speak with Quinn, Bevell, Gase and Del Rio even though all four are still coaching for their current teams.

There is going to be competition for the hot coaching commodities, which makes one wonder if Spielman was being forthcoming with his comment stating the Vikings didn't make the final decision whether or not to keep Frazier until yesterday morning. Clearly, contemplation and preparation were being done in advance of last weekend. Given Spielman's attention to detail, one has to believe that, at the least, he had compiled a short list of coaching candidates from the pro and college ranks while Frazier was still in the employ of the organization. If he was being honest and there wasn't consideration given to the potential of firing Frazier until yesterday, the team may find itself behind the other teams searching for coaching replacements, but Spielman already had his potential candidate categorized and researched by Monday and calls placed to several possibilities on Monday.

It seems hard to believe that the Vikings didn't make their decision on whether or not to fire Frazier prior to yesterday. Perhaps the Wilfs learned from the mistakes of their first firing. When the team got rid of Mike Tice, a press release was printed and the firing came just minutes after Tice's final postgame press conference. Tice's son saw a copy of the press release and learned his father had been fired before Tice had a chance to tell him the information himself. Waiting until Monday made sense given the gaffe surrounding the Tice firing, but it doesn't seem plausible that the Vikings didn't start their due diligence much earlier than yesterday.

The fact that the Vikings had a list of candidates ready to go, being linked to Quinn and Bowles within hours of the Frazier firing speaks to the preparation that was involved in the firing process, but, with at least six teams looking for new head coaches (more could be coming), the competition to get the best candidate for their organizations will be fierce. The Texans have already been linked to Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien and Lovie Smith appears to be the clear favorite to land the Tampa Bay job, which still leaves four teams competing for head coaching candidates.

If you believe everything you're told, the Vikings hadn't made the decision to fire Frazier until yesterday morning. But if the Vikings are going to land the best candidate for the position, they must have done some behind-the-scenes background information gathering because the decision they're about to make is as important as any they've made in the last few years. You wouldn't like to think that such a decision could be made without some pre-planning.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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