Scoggins: Can the Wilfs build a new football operation? That’s the big question for Vikings

Zygi and Mark Wilf never have been meddlesome NFL owners. The businessmen leave football matters to their football experts, which is an admirable management style that works right up until the situation requires a knowledgeable, hands-on approach.

Now is that time.

The Vikings have arrived at a crossroads with their football leadership, a predicament that doesn't allow the owners to observe quietly in the background.

The Wilfs are experts in the realm of boardrooms and building infrastructure. This moment demands football acumen.

The Wilfs must decide the fate of General Manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer after Sunday's finale against Chicago.

The opinion here remains that the Wilfs should start over at both jobs. A fresh start, top to bottom, since the Spielman-Zimmer regime has had more than a fair share of opportunity to build a championship team. It's time for a change.

Removing both would task the Wilfs with identifying and hiring someone to oversee the entire football operation. Are they ready and capable of that responsibility, a path they haven't traveled too often since buying the team in 2005?

At question is whether the Wilf brothers have established enough insight into the football world to have a firm grasp on the right candidates for the most important position inside their organization.

It's not like they can ask Rick Spielman for advice on what to do with Rick Spielman. Or ask him to pick his replacement.

At least let's hope not.

The Wilfs have enjoyed relative stability in the GM-coach tandem, so their resume is light in this area.

As newbie owners, they hired Fran Foley to handle personnel in a "Triangle of Authority" executive structure. Foley didn't last long, having graduated summa cum laude from the David Kahn School of Management. That disaster resulted in Spielman being hired as a vice president of player personnel in 2006, then promoted to general manager in 2012.

Replacing Spielman would qualify as the Wilfs' most important and impactful football decision as owners because they have never handed someone outside the organization full control of the operation.

They cannot allow any trepidation they might feel in doing something different to spur them to choose an easier solution.

The decision on Zimmer's status should be obvious. Missing the playoffs for a third time in four years in a season soaked in frustration means the Wilfs couldn't possibly sell the idea of bringing him back.

The concern is that the Wilfs stop there out of uneasiness with a total makeover. That would be shortsighted.

Allowing Spielman to remain and pick a new coach would essentially require the organization to commit to Spielman for a minimum of three more years. It makes zero sense to let a GM on shaky ground hire a new coach.

The Vikings have two playoff wins under Spielman as general manager. In 15 seasons that Spielman has overseen personnel, the Vikings are one of only four NFC teams not to reach the Super Bowl, along with Washington, Dallas and Detroit.

Being comfortable with something, or someone, should not factor into a decision of this magnitude. It's about results.

One possibility being floated is that the Wilfs will move Spielman out of the GM seat but give him a new title inside the organization. That succession plan would have made more sense a year ago before Spielman's long-time assistant George Paton left to become Denver's GM.

Keeping Spielman as a senior advisor could create an awkward organizational hierarchy, especially if he has any input on hiring his replacement.

The Wilfs have undeniable strengths as owners. They are passionate. They care about doing good deeds in Minnesota despite living in New Jersey. And they're not hesitant to spend money on their team in chasing a championship.

But the owners have been so busy with other ventures — buying an MLS team in Orlando, developing 200 acres surrounding TCO Performance Center, their own real estate business — that they can't possibly know the inner NFL landscape as well as they'd like right now.

The Wilfs typically spend a few minutes in the locker room after home games before hustling to SUVs that drive them to the airport for a flight back home.

The routine will be disrupted after Sunday's game. Big decisions are necessary. The successful real estate developers will need to show some savvy in constructing a football operation.