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Charley Walters: On any given Sunday, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer could be out of a job



John Shipley: Mike Zimmer sees Vikings through rose-colored glasses

It’s a decent bet that had the Vikings lost to the winless Detroit Lions at home last Sunday, coach Mike Zimmer would have been gone by Monday. But the Vikings squeaked by, winning 19-17 in the final seconds, and now it’s another critical Sunday for Zimmer in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers.

It now seems unlikely, barring an embarrassing defeat in Charlotte, that owners Zygi and Mark Wilf would fire Zimmer during the season. But if he is dismissed, co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson would seem an interim replacement.

It seems clear that Zimmer, 65, in his eighth season for a reported $8 million, will be fired at season’s end if the Vikings (2-3) fail to make the playoffs. Minnesota has missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons.

After the bye, the Vikings face a daunting schedule: the Cowboys at home, the Ravens in Baltimore, the Chargers in Los Angeles, the Packers at home, the 49ers in San Francisco before finally getting the woeful Lions again, this time in Detroit.

It’s not too early to consider potential full-time successors to Zimmer. The most sought-after prospect in the NFL probably will be Joe Brady, 32, the offensive coordinator for Carolina who was Bengals QB Joe Burrow’s coach at LSU. But Brady is expected to have several offers more attractive than the Vikings.

If Jacksonville fires Urban Meyer because of misbehavior, the Jags’ job would be attractive because of QB Trevor Lawrence.

The Vikings’ best coaching fit, the way it looks now, might be Doug Pederson, the former Eagles coach who led his team to the 2018 Super Bowl victory over the Patriots in Minneapolis. Pederson, 53, was a backup QB to Brett Favre in Green Bay and an assistant under Andy Reid in Kansas City. He was fired by the Eagles last January.

Pederson is offensive-minded and aggressive. Zimmer’s offensive philosophy is conservative, play it safe, run the football. Pederson is the opposite.

The victory over the Lions reduced the Vikings’ odds of winning the Super Bowl from 60-1 to 50-1, according to The Packers, despite their 25-22 victory over the Bengals, fell from 11-1 to 12-1.

Orlando City, owned by the Wilfs, is 11-8-9 in Major League Soccer. Minnesota United is 10-10-8. Orlando City is averaging 15,168 per match, Minnesota United 13,864.

Among the 90 San Francisco 49ers players who were given iPads in training camp to study the playbook and practices on a daily basis (each login was recorded), Marshall High School grad Tre Lance’s iPad registered the most minutes, NBC’s Peter King points out.

Lance made his first NFL start in a 17-10 loss to unbeaten Arizona last Sunday, completing 15 of 29 passes with one interception, and rushed for a team-high 89 yards.

Gophers football coach P.J. Fleck told a Dunkers club gathering this summer that he considers last year’s 24-17 victory at Nebraska — while missing 17 starters due to COVID-19 — the greatest win since he took over the program five years ago.

J.D. Spielman, the former Eden Prairie star who transferred from Nebraska to TCU this season, has eight catches for 125 yards and two TDs entering Saturday night’s game against No. 4 Oklahoma.

Happy birthday: Former Gophers and Packers star Jim “Hurricane” Carter turns 73 on Monday.

Jeff Wright, 72, the former Gophers captain and Vikings defensive back from Edina, is doing fine after recent heart and back issues. He resides in suburban Phoenix, Ariz.

Simley grad Michael Busch, 23, after hitting .267 with 20 home runs, 27 doubles and 67 RBIs in 107 games for the Dodgers’ Class AA club in Tulsa, has made the Double-A Central all-star team at second base.

Youngest player on the USA Hockey Under-18 women’s juniors national team is 15-year-old forward Josie St. Martin of Stillwater. The team will compete in the world championship in Sweden in January.

Former Gophers rebounding star Jordan Murphy, 24, is back on the Timberwolves’ Iowa G-League roster.

The Chicago Bulls last week released former Cretin-Derham Hall and Gophers center Daniel Oturu, who has the option of playing for the team’s G-League Windy City Bulls. Oturu, 22, made $898,310 as a rookie last season with the L.A. Clippers and is guaranteed $1.5 million this season.

Rochester’s Matthew Hurt, who left Duke after his sophomore season, was released by the Houston Rockets and last week signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, who will have him play for their G-League Memphis Hustle this season. Grizzlies GM Zach Kleiman is a Duke law school grad.

Also, the Toronto Raptors waived forward Freddie Gillespie, the former East Ridge, Carleton and Baylor star.

Tubby Smith, 70, the ex-Gophers basketball coach who is 34-53 in three seasons at alma mater High Point (N.C.), on Dec. 31 will take his team to Kentucky, where he coached the Wildcats to the 1998 NCAA championship.

Former Gopher Tom Lehman’s hole-in-one during last week’s PGA Champions Tour tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., was the 15th of his career.

By the way, Lehman’s father Jim, Sr., a two-time All-American football player at St. John’s, last week was posthumously inducted into the university’s Athletics Hall of Honor.

Gophers women’s basketball coach Lindsay Whalen speaks at a Capital Club breakfast on Thursday at Mendakota Country Club.

New Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Steve Hutchinson, the former Vikings offensive lineman, speaks at a Twin Cities Dunkers breakfast on Oct. 29 at the Minneapolis Club, introduced by media whiz Bob Hagan of the Vikings.

Seeking a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) will be spotlighted at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Women’s Face-Off game between the Gophers and St. Cloud State on Nov. 20 at Ridder Arena. Several people with ALS, including state senator David Tomassoni, the former Olympian from Chisholm and current chairman of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth; former Gopher and NBA center Chris Engler from Stillwater, and former Gophers baseball standout Mike Bruss from Richfield, are scheduled to attend. Engler’s former Gophers coach Jim Dutcher will present a gift to Engler, as will the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame to Tomassoni.

Condolences to the families of good guys Larry Kohout and Al Crocker, superb sports cameramen for WCCO-TV. Both died days apart. Kohout went on to become the Vikings’ first film director.

Also, sympathy to the family of Bob Morehead, 82, the tireless longtime booster of the Forest Lake community baseball program.

St. Paul Diehard’s Mr. Golf is Rob Wight, the esteemed retired accountant executive and Henry Sibley, Macalester College and Minnesota grad.

St. Paul’s Mark Nelson on Saturday will referee the World Boxing Organization junior lightweight title fight in Atlanta between Jamel Herring and Shakur Stevenson. Each fighter reportedly will earn $1.5 million.

Cannon Falls 2002 grad Cory Johnson, who sent six years in the Timberwolves organization as assistant equipment manager, has been named director of team operations for the San Antonio Spurs. His father, Rod, was the Wolves’ PA announcer for 21 years./l


If football coach P.J. Fleck is to leave the Gophers ($4.5 million buyout), this would be the year considering he’ll be losing 10 starters on offense and 10 on defense after this season. As peerless Gophers reporter Andy Greder pointed out last week, Minnesota has 14 fifth-year players and seven playing in their sixth seasons.

Even a high-ranking Bowling Green official admitted privately that he was shocked with his school’s 14-10 football victory over the Gophers several weeks ago.

The Gophers men’s basketball team has made offers to five Minnesota underclass players: Lakeville’s North’s 6-9 Nolan Winter, son of ex-Gopher Trevor Winter; Taison Chatman, 6-4, of Totino Grace; 6-11 Boden Kapke of Holy Family; 6-5 Jack Robison of Lakeville North, and 6-1 Daniel Freitag of Bloomington Jefferson.

This season, the Gophers have one of the nation’s oldest roster of players with seven grad transfers.

Wisconsin’s entire football offensive line has a name, image and likeness (NIL) deal that provides free restaurant food, gift cards or merchandise for promoting a local BBQ company. At Michigan State, where Cretin-Derham Hall’s Tre Holloman has committed for basketball, 133 football and men’s basketball players each receive a stipend of $500 a month over 12 months for marketing a local mortgage company, USA Today points out.

Meanwhile, after Saturday’s game against the Gophers, rather than profit for himself, Nebraska star linebacker JoJo Domann pledged to use his NIL benefits to partner with several companies to donate to charities that provide food and medical care to impoverished children and families via the initiative.

Bob Naegele paid $80 million for the NHL expansion Wild in 1997, then sold the franchise to Craig Leipold for about $200 million in 2008. New value of the Wild is $785 million, according to Sportico.

Ray Fosse, the former all-star catcher and longtime Oakland A’s broadcast analyst who died from cancer last week at age 74, always wondered when he came to Target Field why the Twins when the ballpark was built didn’t make the left-field fences more accommodating for catcher Joe Mauer the way they were at the Metrodome when Mauer hit 28 home runs en route to becoming the American League’s MVP in 2009.

Austin Martin, 22, the shortstop the Twins acquired in the trade with Toronto for starting pitcher Jose Berrios, hit .254 with three home runs in 37 games for Double-A Wichita. Before the trade this season, Martin hit .281 with two homers for Double-A New Hampshire.

The pitcher the Twins got in the Berrios trade, Simeon Woods Richardson, 20, was 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA at Wichita. Before the trade, he was 2-4 with a 5.76 ERA at New Hampshire.

Berrios, 27, is 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA for Toronto. For the Twins this season, he was 7-5 with a 3.48 ERA.

The Twins will pick No. 8 overall in next June’s major league draft.

In reference to the Twins choosing 18-year-old pitcher Chase Petty with their first-round draft pick (No. 26 overall) for $2.5 million in June, major league scouts will tell you that the kid does indeed have a fastball clocked at 100 mph.

That’s because the new-technology radar guns used by teams are more accurate than the models used years ago, picking up the speed of pitches coming out of the hand rather than when they reach home plate.

In two appearances for Fort Myers this season, Petty stuck out six in five innings with an ERA of 5.40.

The Twins, who had attendance of 1.3 million this season, say they will have a “very significant” financial loss in 2021.

It looks like Jamie Spencer is leaving his business development position with the Wild for the Chicago Blackhawks.

A 1974 Vikings size 11 NFC championship ring of starting guard Charles Goodrum sold for $16,000 via VSA Auction.

Former Gophers women’s basketball coach Brenda Frese of Maryland has a base salary of $1.4 million on a contract that runs through 2027-28. Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen’s contract, through 2023-24, is worth nearly $600,000 a year.

Upper-level Target Center tickets for the NCAA Women’s Final Four basketball tournament April 1-3 that could feature UConn’s Paige Bueckers of Hopkins, the reigning national player of the year, begin at $394 apiece on

Because she’s an amateur, Gophers-bound Isabella McCauley, who won the recent Minnesota Golf Champions tournament at Minneapolis GC, received $500 in pro shop credit. Runner-up Trey Fessler, a professional, received $1,650 in cash.

Minikahda teaching pro Jeff Sorenson, who is the Minnesota PGA Player of the Year and finished third to McCauley at Minneapolis GC, earned $1,250, bringing his total winnings to nearly $25,000 this year. Sorenson also earns a berth in next July’s 3M Open at the TPC in Blaine. Besides playing, Sorenson, who is headed to his winter home in Deltona, Fla., to compete in the PGA Winter Series, logged more than 1,000 hours teaching this year. Brother Matt, who is Jeff’s caddie, has been hired at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill club in Orlando, where this winter he’ll be a premier caddie.

There are lots of worthy candidates — DeMarcus Ware, Torry Holt, Devin Hester, Tony Boselli and Richard Seymore among them — but ex-Viking Jared Allen has a decent chance for election to the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Some fans were turned away from the St. Thomas-Valparaiso football game a week ago at O’Shaughnessy Stadium that was a 7,433-ticket sellout.

Ex-Twin Jim Kaat, baseball’s best broadcast analyst, inexplicably isn’t among eight Hall of Fame finalists for this year’s Ford Frick Award.

The Wild rank No. 5 among NHL teams that have a losing percentage in games during which they are penalized for fighting, according to a 20-year study by


From a NFL pundit on Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, in his eighth season in Minnesota: “He’s like a carton of milk that’s hit its expiration date.”

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Gophers rally for late lead but fall to unbeaten Nebraska



Gophers rally for late lead but fall to unbeaten Nebraska

Without its floor leader on Monday, Lindsay Whalen’s Gophers were at a disadvantage from the start. But the head coach felt confident she still had enough to hand Nebraska its first loss of the season.

They’d done it before. Minnesota swept the Cornhuskers last season, winning the second game without starting point guard Jasmine Powell. They came tantalizingly close to doing it again on Monday, but in the end Nebraska had too much in a 70-67 victory at Williams Arena.

Kadi Sissoko scored a career-high 25 points, and Sara Scalia added 20 despite playing the point most of the game, but the Gophers couldn’t build on a four-point fourth quarter lead.

“It’s tough to lose. I thought we had our chances to win,” Whalen said. “I thought some guys stepped up with Jazz being out, and so there’s a lot of performances that I thought were really good. But obviously, we didn’t get it done, so it’s tough to take.”

Deja Winters gave the Gophers a 61-57 lead with a driving layup with 4 minutes, 34 seconds remaining, but Nebraska used an 11-4 run over the next three minutes to take control. Sam Haiby, a senior guard from Moorhead, scored eight of those points, giving the Cornhuskers a 68-65 lead with 43 seconds left.

Scalia missed from the paint, and Deja Winters missed an open 3-pointer before Ashley Scoggin hit two free throws with 11.3 seconds left to seal it.

Haiby finished with 13 points, and Jaz Shelley and Bella Cravens each scored 15 points for the Cornhuskers, who improved to 9-0, 1-0 in the Big Ten. The Gophers fell to 6-5, 0-1.

Powell, averaging 12.3 points and a team-high 5.9 assists, was out with a lower right leg injury and wore a stationary boot while watching from the bench. It’s unclear whether she’ll be available for Sunday’s game at Michigan.

“She’s getting treatment and she’ll continue to work with the medical staff and we’ll see how she’s feeling,” Whalen said.

Without Powell, Scalia was forced to move from off guard to point, which she has done before and done well. But the move throws a wrench in a lot of what Minnesota likes to do on offense. Scalia is the team’s best 3-point shooter, and playing point made it nearly impossible for teammates to get her an open shot.

Still, Scalia was effective. She was 4 for 7 from 3-point range and scored on a handful of drives down the center of the lane.

“It was definitely a lot more work,” Scalia said. “They were picking me up in the backcourt almost every possession. I just had to get the offense going and then when it was my turn, or I saw a shot or a play open, I did what I could to create or knock down my shot.”

Turnovers played a major part down the stretch. The Gophers were charged with six in the fourth quarter and the Cornhuskers finished with 21 points off turnovers.

The Gophers trailed 33-31 at intermission but immediately gave up four points on two turnovers to start the third quarter as Nebraska scored the first six points. They started the fourth on an 11-4 run to take a 61-57 lead, but couldn’t get enough stops to expand it.

Nebraska grabbed seven of the next 10 rebounds while outscoring the Gophers 13-3.

“That’s what it comes down to in this league,” Whalen said. “Everybody’s fighting, everybody’s battling, and it’s about those hustle plays and who can get those extra boards when things aren’t falling. We talked about it at halftime, and there were times I thought we were pretty good, but obviously we were not good for long enough stretches.”

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Federal inmate killed in Florence, third such U.S. prison death in a month



Federal inmate killed in Florence, third such U.S. prison death in a month

WASHINGTON — A federal prisoner at a high-security penitentiary in Colorado died Monday in an altercation with another inmate, marking the third time an inmate has been killed in a U.S. federal prison in the last month.

Jamarr Thompson, 33, was pronounced dead Monday afternoon at USP Florence, shortly after prison staff members responded to the fight, the Bureau of Prisons said.

Thompson’s death was the latest security issue for the federal prison system, which has been plagued by chronic violence, serious misconduct and persistent staffing shortages. His death also comes as the Justice Department is facing mounting pressure from Democrats in Congress to take action to reform the agency.

Last month, a 61-year-old man died after an altercation at USP Tucson in Arizona. And a 32-year-old man was killed last week after a fight with another prisoner at USP Canaan in Waymart, Pa.

The Bureau of Prisons said staff members were called to respond to an altercation between Thompson and another inmate around 2:30 p.m. and “promptly initiated life-saving measures,” but Thompson was pronounced dead by emergency medical crews. The other inmate involved in the fight was treated for minor injuries, officials said.

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Mike Pence’s former top aide cooperating with Jan. 6 panel



Mike Pence’s former top aide cooperating with Jan. 6 panel

WASHINGTON — The former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence is cooperating with the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Marc Short was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and accompanied Pence as he fled his post presiding over the Senate and hid from rioters who were calling for his hanging. Short is cooperating with the panel after receiving a subpoena, according to the person, who was granted anonymity to discuss the private interactions.

Former President Donald Trump was openly criticizing his vice president even as the insurrectionists broke into the building because Pence had said he would not try to unilaterally reject the electoral count as Congress certified President Joe Biden’s victory. Pence didn’t have the legal power to do so, but Trump pressured him anyway.

As Pence’s top aide, Short was also present for several White House meetings ahead of the insurrection. At one point, Trump banned Short from the White House grounds because he objected to the pressure on Pence to reject the legitimate election results.

CNN first reported Short’s cooperation and subpoena.

Some people close to Pence were furious about the way that Trump tried to scapegoat the former vice president on Jan. 6 and became even more incensed after Pence, his closest aides and his family were put in physical danger by the rioters.

Alyssa Farah, who served as Pence’s press secretary before taking on other roles and left her job at the White House before Jan. 6, voluntarily met with Republicans on the House select committee and provided information.

In a series of tweets as the insurrection unfolded, Farah urged Trump to condemn the riots as they were happening and call on his supporters to stand down. “Condemn this now, @realDonaldTrump,” she tweeted. “You are the only one they will listen to. For our country!”

The panel in November subpoenaed Keith Kellogg, who was Pence’s national security adviser, writing in the subpoena that he was with Trump as the attack unfolded and may “have direct information about the former president’s statements about, and reactions to, the Capitol insurrection.” The committee wrote that according to several accounts, Kellogg urged Trump to send out a tweet aimed at helping to control the crowd.

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