Slides aside, Tice endorsed for 2005
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice will return for at least one more year, and nothing short of a lucrative contract extension could make him happier.
Despite a second straight late-season slide, the Vikings on Monday picked up Tice's $1 million option for 2005, ending much speculation about the coach's future.
"I'm pleased," Tice said. "I want to remain the football coach of this football team because we've come a long way in three years."
Tice would have become a free agent Jan. 31 if the club failed to exercise the option by Saturday -- one day before Minnesota's regular-season finale at Washington.
Instead, the 45-year-old coach will have a chance to improve his 23-25 record and reverse his team's reputation for fading down the stretch.
The Vikings raced to a 6-0 start in 2003, Tice's second full season, but finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. They are headed in a similar direction this year, having lost six of their past nine games, but at 8-7 still have a good shot at a wild-card berth.
"Although our expectation of winning the division was not met, we feel that the program Mike Tice has guided gives us the talent base to have success today and in the future," owner Red McCombs said in a statement Monday. "Our expectations are high for the upcoming playoffs and for next year."
Widely known as a player's coach, Tice has absorbed much of the blame for the Vikings' problems on and off the field, but the team's stars have supported him publicly.
Despite a 33 percent raise from his reported $750,000 salary this season, Tice will remain one of the NFL's lowest-paid head coaches.
For now, Tice is focused on taking the Vikings back to the playoffs.
"We just keep fighting the fight," Tice said. "Hopefully, when it's all said and done, you've accomplished a whole bunch."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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