Mike Tice death watch, Day 1

class=img_thumbleft>Mike Tice might want to start scalping his 2006 Super Bowl tickets early this year. Any Sunday now, the lowest paid coach in the NFL may become a very large man being paid very large money to plant his ass on the couch in front of a very large television. (I personally haven't seen Tice's couch or his ass, but there's every reason to believe they're both substantial as well.)

As long as Red McCombs appeared weekly on TV, stewing glumly in his I'm-not-making-enough-money-off-this-luxury box, Vikings fans could lavish their resentment on that cheapskate. Now, the coach I call "Iago" (for the way he insinuated himself into his post) seems like he's close to his fifth and final act.

On the subject of grisly dramas and fickle loyalties, it's been a rough week for George W. Bush's Minnesota supporters, with Randy Kelly going into the halftime of his reelection campaign down 25 points--around the same number the Vikings spotted Cincinnati on Sunday (27). Tice is another Bushman, having handed the pres a Vikes jersey last year at a Target Center campaign rally. (This may have won Tice suck-up points with McCombs, a major Republican donor; new owner Zygmunt Wilf gives to the Dems.) "When it's the fourth quarter and the game is on the line," Tice said last October, "you want somebody with a cool head calling the plays."

Funny, but that line makes even more sense when you're talking about football.

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