Former Vikings HC Mike Zimmer ‘Prime’ Candidate For Major NCAA Job

Mike Zimmer, Vikings

Getty Former head coach Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings looks on from the sideline during a game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is on the cusp of a new high-profile job, this time in the collegiate ranks.

Jonathan Cisowski, a sportswriter with 8 News Now in Las Vegas, Nevada, reported that Zimmer is in line to join the University of Colorado staff in the role of defensive coordinator after the school named Deion Sanders its new head coach over the weekend.

“Rumors circulating former Vikings HC Mike Zimmer could be joining Deion [Sanders] as defensive coordinator @CUBuffsFootball,” Cisowksi tweeted on Monday, December 5. “Zimmer has been working in advisory role with Sanders at [Jackson State University] #CollegeFootball.”

Zimmer, Sanders Relationship Dates Back to Time With Dallas Cowboys

Deion Sanders

GettyDeion Sanders, former head coach of the Jackson State Tigers, looks on before a game against the Southern University Jaguars at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

The relationship between Zimmer and Sanders — now affectionately known as “Coach Prime” throughout the world of college football, a nickname derived from the moniker of “Primetime” he earned during his playing days — stretches back more than 25 years.

The two linked up with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995. Sanders was the league’s premier cornerback who had just come over from the San Francisco 49ers. Zimmer was entering his second season as an NFL coach, having been promoted from a defensive assistant the previous season to the Cowboys defensive backs coach.

Sanders and Zimmer made magic together, helping Dallas win its third Super Bowl in four years. They remained player/position coach for the following four campaigns, all of which saw Sanders earn Pro-Bowl honors. The cornerback left for Washington in 2000, the same year that Zimmer was promoted to defensive coordinator with the Cowboys.

Zimmer held that position for the next seven years, serving as a DC for multiple franchises every season from 2000 until 2014, when he was named the Vikings head coach.

Zimmers’ Time With Vikings Ended on Strange, Sour Note

Mike Zimmer

GettyMike Zimmer, former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, looks on from the sidelines during warmups prior to a game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium on January 9, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Zimmer found a reasonable level of success in Minnesota, leading the team to a record of 72-56-1 and three playoff appearances over his eight years at the helm. The Vikings played a total of five postseason games over that span, earning a record of 2-3 in those contests.

However, the Vikings failed to achieve a winning record in either 2020 or 2021, leading to the organization’s decision to fire Zimmer last offseason and replace him with Kevin O’Connell — a young offensive mind and former NFL quarterback who served as the OC for the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams the year before.

Leading up to, and following, his firing, reports began to come out of bizarre interactions between Zimmer and those who worked for him, many of whom (both players and staff) were critical of the culture he perpetuated in Minnesota. As often happens to head coaches with tenures as long as Zimmer’s was with the Vikings, he began to lose some of his players.

It became clear that both the Vikings and Zimmer were in need of a new start. Minnesota got its with O’Connell, and it now appears likely that Zimmer will get his with an old friend and former player in Colorado.

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