Who Is Scott Linehan?

Mike Tice's most important hire is coming in the next two weeks, and a darkhorse candidate named Scott Linehan could be the diamond in the rough the Vikings are looking for at offensive coordinator.

One of the candidates for the offensive coordinator opening on Mike Tice's staff is Scott Linehan. Who is Scott Linehan, other than perhaps the least known of candidates that have been mentioned?

Linehan (38), a former Idaho quarterback has spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Louisville. He's a 14-year coaching veteran who also spent five years at the University of Washington.

In his first season at Louisville (1999), he was instrumental in the development of Chris Redman, who earned Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year honors and received the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

After Redman went to the pros, being drafted by Brian Billick and the Baltimore Ravens, Linehan quickly brought along sophomore quarterback Dave Ragone, who claimed offensive player of the year honors as well. Ragone completed 61 percent of his passes for more than 2,600 yards and 27 touchdown passes in his first year as a starter, as Louisville averaged 35 points a game. Prior to that, Ragone had taken just two snaps from center.

First, Chris Redman, then Dave Ragone. The common factor: Linehan, one of the nation's top young assistants. In both cases, he designed one of the premier offenses in the nation at Louisville.

Linehan is rumored to be a strong head-coaching candidate. According to one college football expert, he is one of the top five assistant coaches that should be running their own program next year. His resume speaks for itself. One way or another, he will make a major move soon.

Linehan spent five seasons at the University of Washington before coming to Louisville, where the Huskies went to bowl games in four of those five seasons.

He spent the 1992 season as the quarterbacks coach at UNLV before returning to his alma mater.

As a player, Linehan led the Dennis Erickson-coached Vandals to a Big Sky Championship in 1985 and three consecutive I-AA playoff appearances in 1984, '85 and '86. He compiled a 32-16 record as a starter while completing 547 of 947 passes for 7,018 yards as a Vandal. Following his collegiate career, Linehan signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys before a shoulder injury ended his playing career.

As a quarterbacks coach, Linehan tutored former Idaho standout Doug Nussmeier to I-AA Player of the Year honors and, more recently, coached NFL backup Brock Huard at Washington. Nussmeier went on to play for New Orleans. Huard is now with Seattle.

At this point it appears that Tice's top choice for his offensive coordinator spot would be Indy's Tom Moore, who's found a way to get Marvin Harrison more than 100 catches each of the past two seasons. But it appears unlikely the Colts will let him go, especially if they hire Tony Dungy there as has been speculated.

That being the case, Tice is reportedly going to talk to Kevin Gilbride, former teammate Jim Zorn, Seattle's quarterbacks coach, ex-Chargers head coach Mike Riley and Linehan.

The darkhorse candidate might be Linehan. But don't think "the college guy" is not capable of getting the most out of Daunte Culpepper, Michael Bennett and, of course, Randy Moss.

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