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Vikings to hire Mike Zimmer as head coach

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By Chris Tomasson

St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Minnesota Vikings have their man.

A source confirmed Wednesday morning the Vikings will hire Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as the ninth coach in team history.

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ESPN first reported the story.

The Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator conducted a second round of interviews Tuesday and Wednesday at Winter Park.

Zimmer, 57, has been an NFL assistant for 20 years, including the past six running Cincinnati’s defense. The Bengals ranked third in the NFL in total defense this past season.

Zimmer replaces Leslie Frazier, who was fired Dec. 30.

Zimmer never has been an NFL head coach. None of the head coaches the Vikings have hired in their 53-year history have had NFL head-coaching experience.

Former University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer applauded Zimmer’s hiring. Switzer gave Zimmer his first NFL job as a defensive backs coach in 1994. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl the next season.

“I’m happy for him,” Switzer said. “Every guy wants a head job who has been an assistant coach. He’s been in the league a long time. … I wish him well. It’ll be fun to watch.”

The Vikings were known to have interviewed seven candidates. A source told the Pioneer Press on Monday that if Zimmer was impressive in his second interview, there was a chance the Vikings could abandon their original plan of bringing in two or three finalists for second interviews. Zimmer is the only candidate known to have come to Minnesota for a second interview.

The Vikings also interviewed Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman and offensive line coach Jim Tomsula, and Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

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