15 Dec 18
The most important person in the entire Minnesota Vikings organization right now, regardless of whether anyone agrees or not, is Kirk Cousins.
That’s because the quarterback is guaranteed $56 million the next two seasons, and the most important thing the Vikings can do now is build an offense around him that makes him successful.
When Kyle Shanahan, now the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach, was with the Washington Redskins as offensive coordinator working for his father, head coach Mike Shanahan (2010-13), he much admired Cousins. In fact, word is Kyle wanted Cousins to come to San Francisco before the 49ers traded for Jimmy Garoppolo. Both Shanahans highly regard Cousins.
If the Vikings don’t make the playoffs, and if they decide to make a head coaching change, Mike Shanahan would seem a likely choice.
If you’re Zygi Wilf and you make a coaching change, you’re probably going to pick a guy who gives you the best chance to win next year, and that should be a guy who well knows what Cousins’ strengths and weaknesses are to make him better. A young, hotshot inexperienced offensive coordinator would seem too much of a gamble at this juncture for Wilf, especially after the John DeFilippo experiment backfired.
Telling? Dave Campo, who hired Zimmer as defensive coordinator when he was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, tweeted earlier this month, “Well, it looks like Zimmer is not heeding my advice, and making the same mistake I did when I was Dallas’s HC! When Norv Turner quit (the Vikings as offensive coordinator under Zimmer two years ago), I texted him and said make sure you are doing exactly what you want done on offense or you’ll be the next one out! It looks like he’s on his way!”
It’s intriguing that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer chose his QB coach Kevin Stefanski to replace DeFilippo rather than offensive assistant Todd Downing, who just last year was calling plays as offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders.
The best playoff hope the Vikings (6-6-1) could have going for them is if Chicago (9-4) has the division clinched, but cannot catch the Saints or Rams for home-field advantage. Then the Bears probably would rest their front-line players in the final game of the season in Minnesota.
It’s possible the Vikings could win their remaining three games; it’s also possible they could lose all three.
As Vikings coach in 1993, Dennis Green fired Jack Burns as offensive coordinator two games into the season, replacing him with Brian Billick, who went on to coach a Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens team.
Norv Turner, who abruptly left as Zimmer’s offensive coordinator during the season two years ago, is offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, who are 6-7. Turner’s replacement, Pat Shurmur, has the New York Giants at 5-8 as head coach.
Dan Fouts, Ian Eagle and Evan Washburn call Sunday afternoon’s Vikings-Dolphins game for CBS in Minneapolis.
Rochester John Marshall’s 6-9 Matthew Hurt, who’s expected to be a one-and-done in college (Memphis is considered the favorite), on Friday set a school scoring record with 55 points (five three-point field goals), 11 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots in an 85-70 victory over Winona. He was to visit North Carolina on Saturday.
Texas coach Shaka Smart last week became the second college basketball coach to offer a tender to 15-year-old Cretin-Derham Hall freshman point guard Tre Holloman. Minnesota’s Richard Pitino offered last summer.
Ex-Timberwolves coach Kevin McHale, now an NBA analyst for TNT, on ex-Wolves shooting guard Jamal Crawford, who at age 38 is averaging 16.5 minutes and seven points per game for the Phoenix Suns: “Even in his old age, he’s still able to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim.”
Wouldn’t be surprised, while Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck was getting a contract extension last week, if other Gophers coaches were being told they have to take program cuts.
On the same day — March 30 — that the Twins play Cleveland at Target Field next season, the Timberwolves play Jimmy Butler and the 76ers at Target Center.
The Twins play in Philadelphia from April 5-7 while the NCAA Final Four men’s basketball tournament is at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The all-time Twins-Washington Senators franchise starting lineup, dating back to 1901, in Tom Stone’s new meticulously researched “Now Taking the Field” study of dream teams for each of baseball’s 30 organizations: Rod Carew, second base; Sam Rice, right field; Tony Oliva, designated hitter; Goose Goslin, left field; Kirby Puckett, center field; Harmon Killebrew, third base; Joe Judge/Kent Hrbek/Mickey Vernon, first base; Joe Mauer, catcher; Cecil Travis, shortstop. That lineup is against right-handed pitchers.
Against left-handers: Carew; Joe Cronin, shortstop; Puckett; Killebrew; Bob Allison, DH; Goslin; Gary Gaetti, third base; Oliva; Mauer.
Starting pitchers: Walter Johnson, Bert Blyleven, Brad Radke, Camilo Pascual and Jim Kaat. Relievers: Firpo Marberry, Joe Nathan, Rick Aguilera, Eddie Guardado and Al Worthington.
Manager: Tom Kelly.
While there’s been a movement to honor Killebrew with a U.S. Postal Service stamp, the post office in his hometown of Payette, Idaho, last week was named after the late Twins hall of famer.
Head table for the St. Paul Old Timers Hot Stove banquet Jan. 17 at Jimmy’s Event Center in Vadnais Heights: Jack Morris, Tom Kelly, Cory Provus, Trevor Hildenberger, Stephen Gonsalves, Dave St. Peter, Derek Falvey, Jerry Bell, Jim Rantz, Tim Tschida, John Anderson, Steve Winfield and Carl Renalls.
Among those paying respects at the standing-room-only celebration of life for pro wrestler Larry “the Axe” Hennig last week at St. Lawrence of Duelm church in Foley, Minn., was Jesse “the Body” Ventura.
Gophers 6-10 freshman Daniel Oturu weighs 225 pounds. Coach Pitino would like to see him add 20 pounds.
“That would be good; put on some weight and I think he’s going to be a monster in this league,” Pitino said last week. “You see him miss a lot of dunks, where he’s close, and I think that’s just a little bit of strength through contact, things like that. He’s got the talent, wants to win and is a great kid.”
Give Pitino credit for getting sophomore Isaiah Washington to be a pass-first point guard after being the opposite during his New York high school playground-style days.
While the Gophers under first-year women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen are off to a 10-0 start, Texas Tech, coached by the person Whalen replaced, Marlene Stollings, is 5-2.
Local Division I football officials: Dan Novak will work the Arizona Bowl between Arkansas State and Nevada on Dec. 29, Tony Day the Armed Forces Bowl between Houston and Army next Saturday.
Nice to see Jerry Noyce in Minneapolis the other day. The classy former Gophers men’s tennis coach is retired and spending winters in Naples, Fla.
The Sport Court for the NCAA women’s volleyball championship at Target Centerthis weekend was comprised of 10,080 Maple Select-brand tiles.
Spring Lake Park grad E.J. Ejiya, a senior linebacker with nine sacks for North Texas this season, on the difference between high school football in Minnesota and in Texas, in hometownsource.com: “Football season in Texas is year-round and everyone always wants to be involved in football. In Minnesota, you have hockey and basketball, and football takes a back seat to those sports. In Texas, football is king.”
Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, on the firing of coach Mike McCarthy, to NBC Sports: “His ability to coach, his ability to lead, his character is what I’ll remember. He treated the players so well.”
Cretin-Derham Hall grad Anna Fobbe, a senior goaltender at Bemidji State and straight-A student, has been named NCAA Division II women’s soccer academic athlete of the year.
St. Paul police sergeant and Hill-Murray grad Mike Whisler, nephew of former Pioneers state hockey tournament champion coach Jeff Whisler, will work as an inspector for re-elected Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher.
Wild owner Craig Leipold was in Nashville, Tenn., last week for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame enshrinement of Predators GM David Poile, who worked for Leipold when he owned the Nashville NHL team. Wild curator Roger Godin, an expert on U.S. hockey history, represented the family of Massachusetts enshrinee Leland “Hago” Harrington, who was inducted with Eagan’s Natalie Darwitz, among others.
DON’T PRINT THAT
Unfortunately for Vikings rooters, Monday night’s deplorable 21-7 loss to the Seahawks in Seattle had viewership of 11.5 million on ESPN. Seattle had a higher local market rating, 39.7, than the Twin Cities, 38.4.
Vikings QB Kirk Cousins had an average time of 2.90 seconds to pass against the Seahawks, profootballfocus.com points out, “and was disastrous in the face of pressure, completing zero of seven passes while taking two sacks.”
Vikings have dropped from 33-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl to 50-to-1, according to Bovada-Las Vegas. Packers? They’ve remained the same, 250-to-1.
Look for Gene Glynn, the popular Twins third base coach who was dismissed when Rocco Baldelli took over as manager, to become roving infield and base running instructor for the Miami Marlins.
Suspended Gophers football players will miss out on $175 Best Buy gift cards and JBL over-ear wireless headphones, among other items, for not playing in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26 in Detroit.
Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck, with six victories this season, last week gets an extension increasing his contract to five years, but baseball coach John Anderson, the Big Ten’s all-time leader in victories coming off another Big Ten championship, can’t get a five-year deal.
The way it looks now, the Twins’ payroll, which was $108 million at the start of last season, will be in the $90 million range this season.
Cretin-Derham Hall grad Ryan McDonagh, with 21 points in 33 games for the NHL’s best team, Tampa Bay, has to be a strong candidate for this season’s Norris Trophy, representative of hockey’s best defensive player.
President George H.W. Bush, who died at age 94 on Nov. 30, provided St. Paul’s Tim Tschida with an experience of a lifetime.
Tschida was right-field foul line umpire for baseball’s 1992 All-Star Game in San Diego. It was Tschida’s first special event as a major league umpire.
“George Bush was President at the time, and he and (hall of famer) Ted Williams threw out first pitches,” Tschida recalled last week.
“It was a 5:30 start because we were on the west coast, and we were at the ballpark real early. The President and Ted Williams were in our locker room for two hours prior to the game.”
When Presidents go to a major league baseball game, they usually choose the umpire dressing room as ground zero for the secret service because it’s secure and they have special access to the exits and field.
“So the President and Ted Williams were just hanging around in there,” Tschida said. “First of all, Ted Williams has the utmost respect for two things: people who can hit a baseball and anyone who was a fighter pilot.”
Williams and Bush were fighter pilots.
“The two of them were literally swapping war stories,” Tschida said “And Doug Harvey was the home plate umpire — it was his last year, and he was the most recent umpire inducted into the hall of fame in 2010.
“So we had the greatest player of all time, a future hall of fame umpire and the President of the United States in our room. All I did was just sit there and listen. It was way cool.”
Tschida, 58, umpired in the major leagues for 30 years, 10 as a crew chief. He retired six years ago.
Joe and Maddie Mauer have accepted an invitation from alma mater Cretin-Derham Hall to honor the former Twins star’s recent retirement with a celebration this week at the school’s Joe Mauer Fieldhouse.
Sad: Ex-Twins Tony Oliva (three batting titles, .304 career average) and Jim Kaat (283 victories) don’t get their next chances for hall of fame election until 2020, when both will be 82 years old.
As senior Jordan Murphy continues to set school basketball records, it’s not too early for consideration for retirement of his No. 3 jersey at Williams Arena.
Ex-Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, 33, who has rushed for 872 yards this season for Washington, plans to play another three years.
Dave Brooks, who honored Herb Brooks with a large bronze statue of his late brother outside Xcel Energy Center, is planning to have another statue of the hockey icon from St. Paul put at the site of the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center at St. Cloud State.
Matt Hodson, the media relations whiz for the WCHA, is leaving to join the Twins as business communications manager.
NFL analyst ex-Gopher Tony Dungy, on quarterbacks, to NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico on his podcast: “It’s leadership. It’s relationships. It’s not necessarily how well you can throw the ball or how accurate you are, but can you function in a way to get everybody to be the best they can be?”
[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-tag”]