Prime Vikings Head Coach Candidate Already on Sidelines During Win Over Bears: Report

Matt Campbell

Getty Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell was on the sidelines at the Vikings-Bears game and could be a prime head coach candidate.

The Minnesota Vikings are expected to issue their interview requests on Wednesday, setting in motion a pivotal offseason for the franchise that is tired of mediocrity and ready to establish itself as a championship contender.

Star Tribune reporter Ben Goessling tweeted the following on Tuesday night: “We could start to hear some names the #Vikings are interested in for their GM and coach openings tomorrow; they’re expected to make some of their interview requests on Wednesday. Their plan remains to fill the GM opening first, from what I’ve heard today.”

The formalities are underway. But did the Vikings potentially have their next head coach waiting on the sidelines of their season finale?

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Notorious College Head Coach Linked to Vikings

Elias Johnson reported that he saw Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell on the sidelines of Sunday’s season finale between the Vikings and Chicago Bears.

“I can confirm, Matt Campbell was at the Bears/Vikings game. Saw him on the sidelines,” Johnson tweeted. “I figured he was there to watch (Bears running back) David Montgomery. Sounds like he’s on the short list for the HC job in MN.”

While Vikings ownership expressed that they will find a new general manager to help in the decision-making on hiring a new head coach, Johnson noted that Campbell has already been in the mix for other head coaching gigs.

“Lotta chatter online about Vikings already reaching to Campbell about the job, allegedly,” Johnson tweeted. “He was on the short list for NFL jobs as of last year so not surprising if true.”

Campbell has ties to both teams at the running back position in Montgomery and Vikings rookie running back Kene Nwangwu, the Cyclones’ all-time leader in kick return yards.

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Rumors of Campbell Turned Down Lucrative Lions Deal

In 2016, Campbell took over an Iowa State program that hadn’t won eight games in a season since 2000. After a Year 1 buffer, Campbell has led the Cyclones to five straight winning seasons, including three eight-win campaigns.

Well-respected among the coaching ranks, Campbell is notoriously known for a rumor that he turned down a massive contract north of $65 million of either five or eight years with the Detroit Lions — a strong commitment to a coach who has never had a job in the NFL. CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd initially reported the rumor, which a source close to the Lions later refuted, saying they got their No. 1 guy in residing head coach Dan Campbell, per the Detroit Free Press.

 

However, there were talks between the two parties, NFL Insider Albert Breer reported:

But in January, he did at least give the Detroit job some thought. He and Lions special assistant to the owner Chris Spielman have a strong relationship—the two are both from the football-mad city of Massillon, Ohio—and, as such, Campbell spoke with the Lions brass a couple times about the job opening as the NFL hiring cycle got revved up. And Detroit was preparing to fly out to visit with Campbell just before Campbell pulled his name out of the running.

Campbell also declined an interview with the New York Jets for their head coaching vacancy last offseason, which went to Robert Saleh.

Campbell signed a contract extension through the 2028 season with Iowa State. However, he could void at any time for a shot at the NFL.

And with the Vikings’ head coaching gig considered the best job available in the NFL currently, now would be an opportune time for Campbell to make his move.


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