Tice Will Be Back in '03

After the team's strong late run, most speculation that Mike Tice was on the hot seat for his job subsided. Monday, owner Red McCombs made it official -- Tice is back for 2003.

For awhile, some in the national media said Mike Tice was a candidate for the chopping block at the end of the season. But, after solid games vs. Atlanta and Green Bay and wins over New Orleans and Miami, owner Red McCombs announced Monday that Tice will be back next season.

While McCombs said the team hasn't performed as well as he had hoped, Tice has kept them together and he is encouraged with how well the team has played vs. playoff-caliber opponents the last four weeks.

Tice will begin the process of working on 2003 as soon as the regular season ends Sunday at Detroit. The first item of business will be to go over a list of free agents the team will have an interest in signing and then focusing on April's draft.

A vote of confidence is often a bad thing for a coach, but this is a clear signal that the Vikings are willing to stick with the Tice regime and hope to build off the late success this year.

* TE Byron Chamberlain has been downgraded to doubtful for Sunday's game with a high ankle sprain.
* In somewhat of a surprising move considering the Vikings have just two healthy tight ends on the roster, Tice said he is inclined not to bring up TE Jeff Kostrewa from the practice squad for the season finale.
* In a clarification of yesterday's story, the Vikings could still pick as high as third in the draft or as low as 12th depending on Week 17 results. The only tie-breakers under those scenarios are strength of schedule, with the weaker schedule teams getting the higher picks in the event of identical records.

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