IF YOU CAN’T BEAT ‘EM, HIRE THEIR OLD SLOTBACKS COACH

It’s official: Army hired Jeff Monken to replace Rich Ellerson as their head football coach.

Judging by the list of reported candidates, it appeared that Army was choosing between going the “Jim Young” route or the “Paul Johnson” route. As usual when it comes to Army, Paul Johnson won. Of course, it’s unfair to Monken to simply reduce him to a “Paul Johnson guy.” He has a track record of his own to be proud of. Monken inherited a Georgia Southern program that was gut-punched by Brian VanGorder, and treading water under Chris Hatcher. He won immediately, taking the Eagles to the FCS semifinals in each of his first three seasons. Even this year, when 19 of his 63 scholarship players were lost to injury, Monken was still able to guide Georgia Southern to a 7-4 record and a win over Florida. If 7-4 is a down year for you, then you’re probably doing something right.

At first I didn’t think that any former Navy assistants would coach at Army. It wasn’t because I thought they’d have any loyalty to Navy or anything. Having competed against Army for so long, I figured they would have a pretty good idea how Army’s athletic department operates and want no part of it. Monken was part of Navy’s turnaround and knows what it took to make that happen. If he’s willing to give it a shot at West Point, then maybe it’s a sign that enough changes are on the way that he feels he can compete. Or maybe there are only so many places a coach with the “option” stigma can go to get a raise. Either way, it looks like a good hire for Army. If nothing else, it adds a wrinkle to Army-Navy.

Now the wait begins to see what kind of a staff Monken assembles and where Georgia Southern turns for their next head coach.

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8 Responses

  1. Monken is qualified and a good choice. The question is what’s GSU next move. Do they stay in house with Brent Davis, offer the job to Brian Bohannon or go after Ivin Jasper. Obviously the first two options are what we want.

  2. After Ga. Southern beat Florida, my hunch was that Monken would be attractive to Army for many reasons- young, fiery competitor; knows the option; extensive experience at Navy. It was only the latter point that made me doubt that Army would go after him. Now we have our answer.

    My sense is that the Ross and Ellerson experiences prompted Army to go after a younger candidate, not that youth is the only thing Monken brings to the table.

    I think Monken is a great hire. My hunch is that we’re in for some hotly contested A-N games in the near future. When Navy played Ga Southern a couple of years ago, CBS College sports had access to the GS locker room. His half time speech exhibited grit and gumption. Made me think that he was destined for a bigger stage.

    Only two questions remain: Will the Army administration finally get its act together? Will Monken be able to get the horses he needs? More grist for BirdDog’s mill.

    Merry Christmas, Mike.

  3. Army starts the 2014 season at home against the Buffalo Bulls. This year the Bulls went 8-5 (MAC) and lost to San Diego State in the Potato Bowl. Buffalo loses their Lambert Award winning LB Khalili Mack and star tailback Branden Oliver (1421 yds / 15 TD) to graduation.

    Following this game, Army tackles (or doesn’t tackle) Stanford in Palo Alto.

    The third game is perhaps the key. Army plays Wake Forest (4-8 2013) on the road. Army lost this year to Wake Forest 25-11. A victory over an ACC team could be the spark that fans the flame.

  4. Monken’s a good coach. Can’t understand why he would leave GSU (heading to 1A) to take over Army.

    Not sure if he’s an upgrade over Ellerson.

    • Because Army is probably paying him a lot more. GSU’s AD said as much in the press conference today.

  5. Worried IJ may be off to GSU now….

  6. Two reasons why Monken took the job, IMO. Money and a belief that if he makes Army successful, he’s got a better shot at the next level. He has a higher risk of failure at Army than GS, given Army’s institutional constraints. But like all young coaches, they don’t believe they can fail.

  7. Mike, any clue as to Monken taking his staff? I would think he has a plan B if GSU hires within and the atff stays?

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