After telling reporters he would talk to them Monday regarding the future of the Vikings and coach Mike Tice, owner Red McCombs hid from the media and left Tice to speculate publicly on his future with the team during a crowded postseason wrap-up press conference.
The scene was an extension of the surreal atmosphere the day before at Sun Devil Stadium, when the Vikings had the playoffs in their grasp until Josh McCown's 28-yard touchdown pass to Nate Poole on fourth-and-25 with no time left beat the Vikings 18-17 and handed the NFC North title to Green Bay.
McCombs did release an odd statement that basically said nothing.
"It was impressive to see all the purple in the stands yesterday in Arizona," McCombs said in the statement. "It had the feel of a home-field advantage. By my estimates the purple outnumbered the red three to one. Before the game there was a line a block and a half long waiting to buy tickets to come see the Vikings. We have the most loyal fans in the NFL. Although the loss was a heartbreaker the Vikings played their hearts out. We'll be back at the drawing board getting ready for next year."
Meanwhile, not even Tice knows if he's coming back next season. The Vikings (9-7) improved by three games over last season, but they also went 3-7 after a 6-0 start this season, losing to five teams with losing records in the process.
Tice and McCombs spoke by phone Monday, but Tice said he and McCombs didn't talk about his future. Tice said he would proceed as if he's coming back next season. His first offseason duty is to put together a report for McCombs regarding the assistants and players.
"I would love to coach this football team again," Tice said. "I would love to go into a third year with this team. I do believe we made some great strides in a lot of areas.
"If I haven't won enough games in enough amount of time, then that's the way it goes. But I'm going to certainly move on like this is still the football team that I'm coaching."
Ironically, the Vikings were one play from Tice garnering some votes for coach of the year. Now, he's waiting to hear from McCombs whether he'll even be back next season.
"Give the Cardinals their due. But we blew it," said center Matt Birk, summing up season concisely.
Is Tice's Job Secure?
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