For those that haven't been paying too much attention. . .and if you're reading this on this site, my guess is that you don't fall under that heading. . .Minnesota sports is pretty much a train wreck from top to bottom at the moment. The Minnesota Vikings are rebuilding, the Minnesota Twins are one of baseball's worst teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves completely collapsed in the last two months of the season (again), and the Minnesota Wild haven't sniffed the playoffs since the 2007-2008 season.
Over at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Tom Powers examines the role that ownership has played in each of those downturns. . .here's what he had to say about Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf.
As an owner, Wilf proved to be a fan with money. Lots of money. But he didn't have a clue as to how to run a franchise. So, starting with his taking over in 2005, Wilf's operating structure evolved thusly:
Triangle of Authority, One Ruthless Dictator, Everybody in Charge, Nobody in Charge, Rick Spielman.
The Vikings were 3-13 last season. Zygi and Mark Wilf and the entire Wilf family had a lot to do with that because for more than a year no one was in charge at Winter Park. In fact, the coach and personnel director often were at odds. It wasn't until after the season that Spielman was given control after a leaguewide search netted, well, Spielman.
Wilf's shining moment was getting involved to bring in Brett Favre.
Honestly. . .as much as we all love Zygi right now. . .Powers is right on in his assessment, in my opinion. Zygi has never had a problem with spending money to bring in players or upgrade facilities or things of that nature. The issue came from the fact that, at the beginning, he didn't have the slightest idea how an NFL power structure works. You can't have the "Triangle of Authority" or the "Rhombus of Reason" or whatever shape you want to throw out there.
From what we've heard out of Winter Park the past couple of seasons, this is why the Vikings' rebuilding process was slowed a bit. . .from all accounts, last season Rick Spielman wanted to go with Christian Ponder as the team's quarterback from the start. Leslie Frazier, thinking that this team still had one more contending run in it, thought a veteran quarterback was needed. As a result, the Vikings wound up wasting the first six weeks of 2011 with Donovan McNabb, and Ponder was sort of thrown to the wolves about halfway through the year. Had there been one consistent mindset, that sort of thing wouldn't have happened.
Now, finally, the Vikings have one guy in charge. . .whether or not he's the guy remains to be seen. . .and can hold that person accountable for the rebuilding process.
Zygi Wilf has done far more good than bad since becoming the owner of the Vikings, and I think that's something that we can all agree on. But he has played a role in the team's recent struggles as well.