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Vikings could decide embattled Tice's fate Monday

It appears that embattled Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice, who this week said that he preferred his future be determined "sooner rather than later," will get his wish.


Team and league sources confirmed that Tice and first-year owner Zygi Wilf likely will meet Monday, the day after the Vikings conclude the season with a New Year's Day home game against the NFC North champion Chicago Bears. A decision on Tice could come then. If not, Wilf is expected to at least offer some indication as to the franchise's direction.

Wilf has been vacationing this week but will arrive in Minneapolis, along with most of his partners, before Sunday's game.

There have been no substantive talks this week between Wilf and Tice on the coach's job status. Nor has Wilf spoken with Tice's agent, Jimmy Sexton, in recent days, other than to affirm that the situation will be reviewed quickly after the end of the season.

That is consistent with Wilf's stance -- even at the darkest times of a bizarre season on and off the field -- that no decision would be made until the season concluded. The first-year owner, who acquired the Vikings from Red McCombs this spring for $600 million to $625 million, never wavered from his insistence that Tice would not be dismissed during the season.

In the final year of his contract, and with a base salary of approximately $1 million, Tice is among the NFL's lowest-paid head coaches. He was fined $100,000 by commissioner Paul Tagliabue earlier this year when Tice acknowledged that, as an assistant coach, he had scalped Super Bowl tickets, a violation of league policy.

The long year for the Vikings included allegations of improper conduct during a cruise by some Minnesota players on Lake Minnetonka during the club's bye week. Four players, including standout quarterback Daunte Culpepper, were subsequently charged with three misdemeanors each. Culpepper, who was lost to a knee injury early in the season, denied the charges.

Tice's tenure as head coach, which began when he assumed the job on an interim basis for the final game of the 2001 season, has been marked by quick starts by the Vikings and dismal finishes. The 2005 season, however, was the reverse. Minnesota (8-7) lost five of its first seven games, then rallied to reel off six straight victories before losing its past two games to fall out of playoff contention.

With one game remaining, Tice has compiled a 32-34 record. Under his stewardship, the Vikings have made one playoff appearance, as a wild-card entry in 2004.

In addition to Tice's status, there are questions about how the Minnesota front office will be configured for the future. Highly respected vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski also is in the final days of his contract, and Wilf has indicated there will be changes to the Vikings' management staff.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.Insider

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