Tice Becoming Favorite For Coach

The housecleaning has continued around Winter Park as four coaches were fired -- a duty typically reserved for a head coach -- and done by Mike Tice.

There are still mixed signals coming out about the future of the Vikings head coaching position. Mike Tice is still the interim head coach -- technically there is no head coaching vacancy in Minnesota until a new coach is hired or the interim tag is removed from Tice's current standing -- but he did one of the unsavory aspects of being a head coach Tuesday when he fired four coaches.

Offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis, defensive coordinator Emmitt Thomas, running backs coach Carl Hargrave and, to nobody's surprise, Dennis Green slappy and inside linebackers coach Richard Solomon were all fired by Tice Tuesday at the behest of owner Red MeCombs.

A fifth coach, outside LB coach Trent Walters, also left, but he wasn't fired. He resigned to join former coaching mate Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame.

The releases included the most tenured coaches with the Vikings staff. While Lewis and Thomas were both hired away from Green Bay two years ago -- a move that left many shaking their heads since the Vikings were much more successful than the Packers at that time -- Solomon was the only position coach who had been with the Vikings for the full 10 years of Green's tenure. Hargrave and Walters were both tied for second with eight years apiece.

Besides special teams coordinator Gary Zauner, who was hired in 1994, with all of the others gone, Tice, who has been with the Vikings six years, is the senior tenured coach. Only TE coach John Tice and QB coach Alex Wood have more than two years experience with the team -- both of them have been with the team for three years.

Obviously more coaching decisions will be made in the coming weeks, but the Vikings won't sit too long because they need to have a staff in place before the hard-core preparation begins for the college draft.

* The NFL announced Tuesday that the Vikings will have the seventh pick in the NFL draft. While they finished with the same record as Dallas and Cincinnati, the draft tie-breaker isn't based on seeding tie-breakers like conference record or division record. It is based on the cumulative record of the opponents faced by that team in 2001, and the records of the teams the Cowboys and Bengals faced were better than that of the Vikings -- thanks in large part to the Vikings have three games vs. Carolina and Detroit, which had a combined record of 3-29 -- two of those wins coming vs. the Vikings.
* Rumor out of Nashville is that the Vikings have asked permission to speak with assistant head coach Gunther Cunningham, although VU has been told that no such request has been received by Jeff Diamond, who is in the position to make that possible.
* With the organizational changes, the Vikings now look to have the role of top general manager duties to be done in a three-pronged approach with Frank Gilliam, Mike Kelly and the new coach sharing those duties.
* McCombs insists that Cris Carter will still be part of the Vikings next season, although Carter has made no indication that he intends to return -- the opposite is true, in fact.
* As many as seven Vikings may have surgeries within the next couple of weeks. Among those certain to have surgeries are Kailee Wong and Chris Liwienski, while surgery may be needed for Carter, Byron Chamberlain and Mitch Berger.
* Robert Griffith said Tuesday that he would likely have returned to the Vikes if Green was still the coach, but the current shakeup has him quite possibly heading out the door.
* Randy Moss gave an endorsement to Tice following Monday's loss, which could bode well for his chances.
* From what VU is being told, if Tice is not named head coach, he will be offered the position of offensive coordinator, while defensive backs coach Willie Shaw is going to be offered the position of defensive coordinator.

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