It’s been roughly two weeks since Army announced Jeff Monken as its next head football coach, and there has been a lot of innuendo and speculation since. Amidst the rumors is one fact that has risen to the top — it would have been nice for Georgia Southern if the coaching staff stayed put during the program’s transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Here are some random thoughts gathered while trying to figure out what, exactly, is going on at Beautiful Eagle Creek:
— The collective Eagle Nation, for the most part, wants to see the spread option in Paulson Stadium next season. It would appear that Navy’s offensive coordinator, Ivin Jasper, is the best candidate to make sure that happens. On the other hand, Sam Houston State’s Willie Fritz is a proven head coach, the only such potential candidate next to Wofford's Mike Ayers, and has directed the Bearkats to back-to-back national runners up in the FCS and a 40-14 record in four years of leading the program.
It appears Fritz and Ayers are only true, proven CEOs in the running, including the one-time frontrunner for the job, Brent Pry.
— Many in the Eagle Nation were angry at Monken for leaving GSU. Words like “disloyal” and “self-centered” have been thrown around.
Monken was given an offer that could potentially ensure that his future grandchildren — and their grandchildren — will be financially taken care of for the foreseeable future. Georgia Southern couldn’t match that.
It doesn’t matter if Monken bleeds Eagle Creek water and cares about the future of the program (no reason to believe he doesn’t). I’ve personally seen him get emotional when talking about three things — his family, the military, and Georgia Southern football.
Loyalty to two of the three adds up to what, by all accounts, was still a tough decision for him.
The fact that GSU offensive coordinator Brent Davis, QB coach/assistant head coach Mitch Ware, running backs coach Lamont Seward and tight ends coach Sean Saturnio are joining Monken at Army speaks to his loyalty to them, and to winning at Army, which incidentally is his job now.
It’s all bad news for GSU, but blaming anybody — especially any one person — for the uncertainty of Eagles’ current situation seems disingenuous. It is what it is, and that’s it.
Georgia Southern is a better program for having Monken and those four assistants the last four years. Nobody can argue that.
— On that note, some in the Eagle Nation want to make sure the next coach will be in it for the long haul and will not leave after three or four years for a “better” opportunity.
Let me get this straight. If a coach is so good at winning that another program will one day be willing to pay him millions of dollars to work there, that is a reason to NOT hire him? Okie dokie.
— The spotlight is on Tom Kleinlein now. Big, bold moves have happened at GSU since Kleinlein was named the athletics director in November of 2012. The program announced it will join the Sun Belt. Charlton Young, a GSU Hall of Famer as a player, was fired as men’s basketball coach in favor of Mark Byington. Major construction at Paulson Stadium was started for the first time since it was built in the 1980s.
Byington has worked out so far — he’s got the Eagles a half-game out of first place in the Southern Conference despite only having half a roster. Kleinlein’s other coaching hire, volleyball coach Dustin Wood, matched the program’s best record ever in his first season.
But all of that will be shoved aside when Kleinlein’s choice for head football coach is announced. Football is the engine that runs the machine at Georgia Southern, and this football hire will go a long way in telling the story of Kleinlein’s tenure.
— The Sun Belt was 2-0 in its Bowl games this season. Just wanted to throw that out there. Kudos to Arkansas State and the Ragin’ Cajuns.
— Finally, here’s a piece of free advice for whoever takes over at GSU: Regardless of what offense you install, “There is no option” is a poor choice for a catch phrase.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.