Mike Tice is finding the sledding tougher than anticipated in getting his two remaining key open positions on his staff filled.
The vacant special teams coach position is still vacant. Apparently, Rusty Tillman doesn't want to come to a state run by Jesse Ventura -- with whom he made one of the few headlines with the XFL -- and San Diego's Bruce Read, another front runner for the job, accepted a position with the Giants. So, as of today, the job remains open.
Also, contrary to the opinion stated by Tice that he expected to have his offensive coordinator decided by Monday, now it looks like that search may go into February.
The top candidates look to be Louisviille OC Scott Linehan, well versed in the Joe Gibbs-style Redskins offense semi-employed by the Vikings in the Denny Green era, as well as Bill O'Brien. According to Tice before he took off for the Senior Bowl, both Linehan and O'Brien had solid interviews. Former Chargers coach Mike Riley is also a possibility, but the refusal to make an immediate choice could mean the Vikes are looking at potentially grabbing an assistant from one of the remaining playoff teams.
* A hot rumor hitting VU that we will follow up on is that the hiring of Tony Dungy could land Cris Carter in Indy. Carter isn't going to be a salary cap problem in the right system and, with the Colts part of the newly created AFC South, we're hearing he may give Indy a look as a short-term fix alongside Marvin Harrison -- an interesting development to say the least.
* VU has been told a darkhorse candidate for the OC position is current QB coach Alex Wood. The Vikings love the development Wood has made with Daunte Culpepper and, if all else fails, they have a guy who is close to the offense and could be a coach on the spot -- willing to live or die with the promotion.
* RB News Part I -- Although Tice has said publicly he is convinced Michael Bennett is the real deal, VU has confirmed he has spoken more than once with Robert Smith about an NFL return, but Bob is enjoying retirement quite well, thank you.
* RB News Part II -- A long shot at best, VU has heard there is some interest being expressed in the story out of Jacksonville that Fred Taylor is available for a third-round draft pick. While likely not to happen, given Taylor's injury history, he would be available without his signing bonus hit and there are at least a couple of Vikings personnel folks who are weighing the value of the 70th pick in the draft for a gamebreaker like Taylor.
* Former Viking Jack Del Rio may join Sherm Lewis in Detroit. Lewis, who was hired as an offensive consultant Wednesday, is going to the Lions as a coach with sweet familiarity with the teams in the NFC North. Del Rio, an assistant with the Ravens, is one of the hottest properties in the NFL and would be a good addition to a team looking for a step forward.
* Not only is new Indy coach Tony Dungy going to keep offensive coordinator Tom Moore on staff, VU is being told he will also bring along former Vikes and Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin along with him in an attempt to build a defensive presence with the Colts.
Tice Frustrated With Coach Search
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