Former Georgia Southern head football coach Jeff Monken and his family met Friday in Statesboro with GSU friends and supporters for an emotional reception, before Monken leaves Sunday for West Point, N.Y., to take over full time as the head coach at Army.
Monken took time out to discuss his future at Army and the staff he is putting together.
“My job is to make sure we put together the right staff for Army, and I’m taking my time to make sure I do that,” Monken said. “I did that when I took the Georgia Southern job, I didn’t get in a hurry and put a staff together as short order as I could. I tried to find the right people. I think we got the right guys at Georgia Southern, and hopefully we’ll get the right guys this time around.”
GSU offensive coordinator Brent Davis confirmed over the phone Friday that he would join Monken at Army, and on Thursday it was reported that GSU assistants Mitch Ware (quarterbacks/assistant head coach), Sean Saturnio (tight ends) and Lamont Seward (running backs) will also leave GSU. When asked about GSU’s remaining offensive assistants, Monken did not provide specifics.
“There is a very good possibility there will be other coaches from Georgia Southern that will join us,” Monken said. “Piecing that together is not the easiest thing in the world. Perhaps the most difficult job I have as a coach is to put together a staff.”
Monken said he is evaluating current Army coaches, current GSU coaches and coaches from other institutions for the 13 positions — nine full-time coaches and four graduate assistants — that are available at Army.
“There are coaches that have already been offered positions,” Monken said, “and there are coaches that will be offered positions once we get settled in and get some more things in place up there at Army.”
Monken related how difficult a decision it was to leave GSU, a scenario he said he didn't envision when he took over the program in 2010.
“I never really anticipated being the coach anywhere else,” Monken said. “I thought I’d always be here at Georgia Southern. I never pictured myself being the coach at any other school.
“I’m a Georgia Southern man, I’m an Eagle through-and-through, and I always will be.”
When asked about a future matchup between Georgia Southern and Army, Monken said he hadn’t thought about it. “Right now, I’m concerned about the 12-game schedule we have next year, and getting ready for that,” he said.
It was a love of the military, Monken said, that ultimately determined his decision to take the job.
“Opportunities like this don’t come along every day for very many people,” he said. “I feel very, very honored and privileged to have a leadership position at perhaps the most important leadership institution in the entire nation.”
Monken said he was in touch with former colleagues Ken Niamatalolo, Navy’s head coach, and Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech’s head coach, throughout the process. The three coached together at Navy after Johnson left GSU in 2001.
“I talked to (them) quite a bit throughout this process,” Monken said. “I’m very close to both of them and they’ve got a lot of experience coaching academy teams. They were both tremendously supportive and helpful.”
Georgia Southern has yet to announce a timetable for announcing Monken’s replacement.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.