EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Mike Zimmer finally is getting his shot as an NFL head coach.
The Minnesota Vikings announced Wednesday night they've hired Zimmer, who has been an assistant at the college and NFL levels for 35 years, most recently coordinating the Cincinnati Bengals' defense.
"We are excited to welcome Mike as the new leader of the Minnesota Vikings," Vikings Owner/Chairman Zygi Wilf said in a statement. "He has a proven track record of success at every stop in the NFL and we look forward to him maintaining that consistency here in Minnesota."
Zimmer, 57, was a defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys (2000 to '06) and Atlanta Falcons (2007) before joining the Bengals, who this season ranked third in yards allowed (305.5) and tied for fifth in scoring (19.1) – their third straight year in the top 10 in both categories.
He'd interviewed for five NFL jobs in past years and was offered the University of Nebraska job after the 2003 season in Dallas, only to turn it down because he believed he'd get the NFL gig that came through at long last after a second interview with the Vikings this week.
"I'm grateful to the Wilf family, Rick Spielman and the entire Vikings organization for giving me an opportunity to join a franchise with such a strong tradition and an extremely passionate fan base," Zimmer said in a statement. "I believe in a disciplined and physical brand of football and I look forward to getting to work on leading a team capable of long-term success."
Other candidates, including Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, were informed early Wednesday that Zimmer was the choice. But the Vikings didn't announce it until contract details were completed Wednesday night.
"Mike epitomizes the type of football coach with the vision and the values we were looking for to lead us into the future," Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. "His history of maximizing players' potential, along with his football knowledge and passion for the game, will be tremendous assets as we enter a new era of Vikings football."
In Minnesota, Zimmer replaces Leslie Frazier, who was fired after three-plus seasons and a 21-32-1 record. Like Zimmer, Frazier had a defensive background, but the Vikings finished this past season ranked 31st in yards allowed.
"Fans will appreciate Mike's intensity on the field and his down-to-earth attitude off the field," Vikings owner/president Mark Wilf said in a statement. "We strongly believe he will help us compete for division championships each year and lead us to our ultimate goal of bringing a Super Bowl championship to Minnesota."