After Mike Tice retired from coaching in February 2018, his son set a personal betting line on how long his mom would be able to stand dad sitting around the house.
“I had the over-under on mom killing him at 18 months,” Nate Tice, who lives in Las Vegas, said with laugh.
As it has turned out, all is well in the Tice household in Victor, Wash. The former Vikings coach is not driving his wife Diane crazy. He has found a new pursuit to occupy his time and remain connected with football.
Tice, a Vikings assistant from 1996-2001 and the team’s head coach from 2002-05, has started the podcast “Odds & Ends with Mike Tice.” Tice, 61, began it early last year as an audio podcast that first focused on horse racing, his other sporting passion. Last fall, he expanded it to football, and it went to a video format.
“I was bored,” said Tice, who ended his NFL coaching career as the Oakland Raiders’ offensive line coach from 2015-17. “I wanted to stay engaged. The first year I sat out after I retired, I was not engaged. I traveled during the football season. But when you sit out a year, you want to get back in it, and one of the things my son said was, ‘Why don’t you start a podcast?’ ”
Nate Tice, an Edina High School graduate and former Wisconsin quarterback, has NFL experience as an assistant coach and in the front office. He helps his father on the podcasts, providing technological advice and appearing on draft preview episodes last month. But usually it is his dad’s show.
After spending $50,000 on equipment, Tice has a studio in his home, which is an hour southwest of Seattle. While he admits he isn’t exactly tech savvy, he has learned enough to have guests using Zoom and post the podcasts on YouTube.
For draft preview shows last month, his guests included Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs, who was the No. 13 overall pick by Tampa Bay, and former Vikings Pro Bowl safety Corey Chavous, who runs the website DraftNasty.com. On shows last season, guests included Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
“It gives me something to do,” Tice said. “It keeps me engaged. It makes me have to study all the teams, which is good. … The way I look at it, if I continue to work at it, this podcast can get better and better. It’s my first foray into media. If I can make a little side living off it, it’ll be fun.”
It might be hard for Tice to get better at one aspect of the podcast. Last season, he picked several NFL games each week against the spread, and the results were astounding. He went 31-17-1, a percentage of 64.3, and correctly picked his last 13 games in a row.
Tice’s Super Bowl pick was Kansas City beating San Francisco 35-28. Not bad. The Chiefs won 31-20.
With all this success, and with Nate living in Las Vegas, did Tice have his son put down some bets on his picks? Not exactly.
“We don’t have sports betting in Washington, so every once in a while, I’ll tell him to bet $25 on a game,” Tice said. “I was talking to this guy who lives in New York, and he said, ‘$25 a game? You can’t buy a sandwich for $25.’ I said, ‘I just enjoy being right.’ ”
Nate Tice said his father has tremendous football knowledge and picks the games simply for fun. He said his father usually doesn’t even look at the point spread until after he’s evaluated an upcoming game.
“He understands the flow of a season really well and how things affect teams,” Nate Tice said. “He’ll look at a game and say, ‘I think they’re going to beat them by 10.’ Then he’ll see the spread, and it’s like 3 1/2, and he’ll say, “Oh, I’m taking them.’ ”
Nate Tice, 30, is planning to open an insurance agency in Las Vegas while also looking into possibly getting back into football. He has been a scouting assistant for the Atlanta Falcons and a quality control coach with the Raiders when his father was on the staff. He was the personnel director for the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football in 2019 before the spring league folded midway through its first season.
Mike Tice had been on the Raiders’ staff under head coach Jack Del Rio, a former Vikings teammate when Tice was a player. He retired after Del Rio was fired following the 2017 season and replaced by Jon Gruden.
“I do miss being around the guys, and I do miss teaching,” said Tice, a brash New York native. “But guys now, they don’t want big-mouth 61-year-old Mike Tice telling them what to do. … Kids are different now, the coaching technique style is different, but, of course, you’re going to miss something if you did it for 35 years.”
After playing quarterback at Maryland and going undrafted, Tice was an NFL tight end with Seattle, Washington and Minnesota from 1981-95. He was with the Vikings from 1992-95, catching just 14 passes while being used mostly as a blocker.
After retiring as a player, Tice joined the Vikings’ staff under Dennis Green, spending 1996 as the tight ends coach and 1997-2001 as offensive line coach. During his five seasons coaching the line, the Vikings had five different players make a total of 10 Pro Bowls.
“He’s my football dad,” said center Matt Birk, who played for the Vikings from 1998-2008 and made four of his six career Pro Bowls with Tice as offensive line or head coach. “He knew what it took to play in the league for a long time. He just demanded toughness, and that was non-negotiable.”
When the Vikings and Green mutually agreed to part ways with one game left in the 2001 season, Tice took over as interim coach for the finale, a 19-3 loss at Baltimore.
Tice got the job on a regular basis in 2002, and went 32-32 in four seasons to make his overall head coaching record 32-33. He was hired when was Red McCombs, who was regarded as being frugal, owned the Vikings, then fired seven months after the current Wilf ownership group bought the team in May 2005.
The Vikings made the playoffs just once under Tice. After going 8-8 as a wild-card team in 2004, they beat NFC North champion Green Bay 31-17 on the road to open the postseason before losing 27-14 at Philadelphia the following week.
“I look at it as 32-32 and with a playoff win,” Tice said of his Vikings tenure. “And for the budget we had and for the financial decisions that were made for us, and for the lack of staff that we had, I’m really proud of what we did. … I was the lowest-paid head coach, the smallest staff in the league. We were behind the 8-ball at all times.”
Tice made $900,000 in his final season, 2005, as Vikings coach. By comparison, Brad Childress, hired by the Wilfs as his replacement, earned $2.5 million in his first season as the Vikings began to spend more money.
“Red didn’t spend a nickel on the team,” said Corbin Lacina, a Vikings guard from 1999-2002. “We had, like, four working shower heads in the locker room. It was ridiculous. There wasn’t air conditioning in some rooms. He didn’t put anything into the team. But Mike, he did the best he could. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike. He was a very good football coach.”
Birk agreed that Tice made the best of the situation.
“Ownership at that point really wasn’t committed to winning,” Birk said. “We weren’t signing big free agents, we didn’t have that commitment from the top. But under Mike, we went out and played tough, hard-nosed football. It was pretty incredible that we had a .500 record in those four years. It was pretty amazing because of what he had to work with.”
Tice’s teams had records of 6-10 in 2002, 9-7 in 2003, 8-8 in 2004 and 9-7 in 2005. He called his greatest regular-season memory a 32-31 victory at New Orleans in 2002 when the Vikings didn’t go for a tie to force overtime after scoring a touchdown with five seconds left. Quarterback Daunte Culpepper, after fumbling a snap in the shotgun, ran in a two-point conversion for the win.
As for the top overall memory, that one is easy. It was the playoff win at Lambeau Field, forever known as the game in which Vikings receiver Randy Moss simulated mooning the crowd after a 34-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
“Very proud of winning a road playoff game in Green Bay,” Tice said. “That win was a great memory. But then, of course, there’s a lot of bad memories, too.”
Heading that list for worst on-field moment was an 18-17 loss at Arizona in the 2003 regular-season finale, which kept the Vikings out of the playoffs. The Cardinals won on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Nate Poole on fourth-and-25 on the final play of the game.
Poole caught the ball while being knocked out of the end zone, and it was ruled a force out. The NFL changed that rule five years later, requiring a receiver to have both feet in bounds even if forced out.
“That one crushed me mentally, and it was just a shame,” Tice said. “I’ll never forget a couple of years later, after they changed the rule, I got a call from (then NFL vice president of officiating) Mike Pereira, and he said, ‘I was thinking about you today when we changed the rule.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, thanks a lot. That really helps me a lot.’ (Watching replays still) makes me sick to my stomach.”
As for Tice’s lowest off-field moment, that was the Love Boat scandal, a reported sex party held when 17 Vikings players rented two boats on Lake Minnetonka during the bye week in October 2005. Tice knew nothing about the incident until after the fact.
Tice didn’t want to talk about it other than saying it it really bothered him. His son, then a junior in high school, said it was “real tough” on his father.
“It was kind of unfair to him a little bit because it’s like, ‘The players are on a bye week. What am I supposed to do? They’re grown men,’ ” said Nate Tice. “That stuff all stinks, especially as a kid in high school, and kids can be kind of mean. … They’d make jokes to me like, ‘Was your dad on the boat?’ I’m like, ‘Of course he wasn’t on the boat.’ Or, ‘Was he the captain?’ ”
That happened during the first season the Wilfs owned the team, and they were embarrassed by the incident. Even though he had nothing to do with it, Nate Tice said his father sensed then it would be very difficult to keep his job.
“Ownerships always want to have their own guys in there,” he said. “So, obviously that stuff doesn’t help, any off-field stuff.”
After being fired by the Vikings, Tice was an assistant with Jacksonville from 2006-09, with Chicago from 2010-12 and with Atlanta in 2014 before closing out his career in Oakland. He spent those seasons mostly coaching tight ends and the offensive line, but was the Bears’ offensive coordinator in 2012.
Since his retirement, Tice also has been active with The Mike Tice Foundation. Among other things, Tice said that over the past decade, $1.2 million has been raised for the Boys & Girls Club of Western Nevada.
The foundation had a big event scheduled for next month in Minden, Nev., that Tice said unfortunately has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. But his podcast has been rolling on.
“He’s doing great,” Nate Tice said. “It’s kind of fun seeing him with so much energy. He’s like a kid again.”