Childress poised to accept Vikings' head coach job

Updated: January 6, 2006, 10:15 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli |

The Minnesota Vikings have reached agreement with Brad Childress on a five-year contract and the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator will be introduced as the team's new head coach at a Friday news conference.

John Clayton says ...
Departing Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress started to inform members of the current Vikings staff that he will be the new coach and is starting to discuss changes.

While he was doing this, his agent, Bob Lamonte, was reportedly working on a contract to make him the next coach of the Vikings. Childress, 49, is expected to replace Mike Tice and an official announcement is expected on Friday at noon ET.

Childress is the first hiring to fill the eight current openings and should start a busy weekend of decisions.

Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders had a good interview on Wednesday and made a strong pitch to become the next coach. But Childress visited right after Saunders, and the Vikings didn't want him to leave town. Childress was scheduled to leave for a visit to the Packers but the team kept him from leaving and tried to talk him into taking the job.

The strategy worked because Childress, considered a hot property in coaching the past couple years, was finally available this early in the hiring process. For the past four years, Childress has been in the NFC title game with the Eagles. Most of the openings are filled by that time, and NFL teams can't hire coaches until their seasons end.

Childress was at Wisconsin as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1992 to 1998. His teams went to five bowl games.

Childress will succeed Mike Tice, who was fired on Sunday evening after the Vikings' regular-season finale. The Vikings are the first of the teams seeking new head coaches to fill a vacancy.

"We worked late into the evening last night and it's a competitive process," Vikings vice president Lester Bagley told the AP Friday morning, but stopped short of announcing the hiring. "We're still working on the final details of the contract."

A popular candidate right out of the gate, Childress was sought by no fewer than four teams seeking to fill vacancies. Childress arrived in Minneapolis on Monday evening, after the Vikings were granted permission Sunday night to speak with him. He met on Tuesday and Wednesday with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf and other club officials.

Childress was scheduled to meet with Packers officials this week but did not make the trip to Green Bay, fueling speculation the Vikings were pursuing him hard. He was to have huddled with Texans officials on Friday, but when the Vikings opened contract discussions, they did so with the intent of closing a deal.

The Vikings interviewed three other candidates -- incumbent defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell, Kansas City offensive coordinator Al Saunders and Indianapolis assistant head coach Jim Caldwell -- for the position. But league and team sources said that Wilf and other key Minnesota officials were so impressed with Childress that he immediately skyrocketed to the top of the Vikings' wish list.

Childress, 49, has been with the Eagles since 1999 and has served as offensive coordinator the last four seasons.

About the only criticism of Childress from some quarters is that he did not call the plays in Philadelphia, a role that was typically handled by coach Andy Reid. But Reid pointed out on several occasions that he did not call the plays in Green Bay before moving into the Eagles' head coaching position.

Most league observers felt that Childress was not only deserving of strong consideration for a head coach post but that he was also overdue. Twice in recent years, the Eagles signed him to contract extensions and his current deal ran through the 2008 season.

Wilf was seeking a head coach who would be able to work well with the committee approach that he envisions for his team. Wilf reached agreement over the weekend to retain vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski, a rising young star in league circles, and is interviewing candidates for the Vikings' top personnel job.

Childress coached 21 seasons in the college ranks, including a stint as the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, before joining Reid's staff. It is believed the Eagles will not replace Childress but will simply move assistant head coach Marty Mornhinweg into the offensive coordinator's spot.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.