Chad Lunsford and Jeff Monken only coached together for one season, but the two have been a part of the Georgia Southern football program for 18 of the past 23 seasons.
Monken came to Georgia Southern as special teams' coach under Paul Johnson in 1997 and stayed until he joined Johnson when he took over at Navy in 2002. Lunsford came to Georgia Southern in 2003 and served under then head coach Mike Sewak through 2005.
Monken returned to Georgia Southern as head coach in 2010, and brought Lunsford back into the Eagles nest as his wide receiver coach and recruiting coordinator before departing for Army the next year. Lunsford has been at Georgia Southern ever since.
“We knew he was a good recruiter through what he did at Georgia Southern, Georgia Military, and at Auburn where he worked so close with their recruiting,” said Monken. “He had a real passion for that, and we brought him back to take our recruiting efforts to a new level.”
“I’m very thankful to Coach Monken for giving me the opportunity to get back to Georgia Southern,” said Lunsford. “It was awesome the first time I was here, and to have the opportunity to come back I’m just so thankful for it.”
Lunsford and Monken’s careers have more dove tailed than overlapped, but had it not been for Monken bringing Lunsford back to Georgia Southern, the program could look quite differently today.
“When I came to Georgia Southern to be a part of Mike Sewak’s staff in 2003 Coach Monken was someone I talked to to get me caught up,” said Lunsford. “He was someone I felt would be able to help me in coaching the slotbacks with his experience at Georgia Southern. Over the years we have had a lot of the same friends, and in 2013 Brent Davis and Mitch Ware among others vouched for me to get him to bring me on the staff to coach the wide receivers and be the recruiting coordinator.”
“It was really on the recommendation of Coach Mike Sewak, Brent Davis and Mitch Ware,” said Monken. “It was hard to get him to say yes. At the time we were an FCS school just starting to transition to FBS and it wasn’t like we could offer gobs and gobs of money for people to come to Georgia Southern to be an assistant coach. It was a big move for his family, but he did it, and we were excited to get him.”
When Monken left Willie Fritz ushered in the FBS era at Georgia Southern. Monken feels the transition is more notable for the increased amount of depth rather than strictly a talent upgrade.
“Over the years Georgia Southern has always had a very talented football team,” said Monken. “Erk Rusell, Tim Stowers, Paul Johnson and Mike Sewak all put guys into the NFL. I think being an FBS school and having a full 85 scholarships to offer allows you to get more of those kinds of guys. I see the depth they have now across the board is clearly there.”
Since Monken took over in 2009 the Eagles have run some version of an option-based offense, to varying degrees of success. Monken feels this year’s scheme has the potential to be very dangerous.
“They are very much an option football team,” said Monken. “It doesn't look necessarily the same thing as what we do because we are under center and have slotbacks that are going in motion. They have a lot of read plays, and often it’s just a two-way option where they are going to give it to the running back, or the quarterback is going to keep it. I know they try and find ways to get Shai Werts to carry it because he is very talented. It’s very much like the midline option we ran with Greg Hill in his years with us.”
“They have a ton of speed and talent, are doing some really good things and are a lot of fun to watch,” said Monken. “Coach DeBesse and Coach Ruse are doing a good job and they are very fortunate to have guys like that because they are very good at what they do.”
Monken admits it will be tough to look over to the other side of the field and see the blue and white jersey’s he has taken so much pride in being a part of, now being his opposition.
“I cheer for Georgia Southern every week, and I love Georgia Southern,” said Monken. “It’s such a special place to me personally and to my family as well. Statesboro and that community are great and I still have dear friends there. I am a proud Milliken graduate, but that school feels like my alma mater. I spent nine years at Georgia Southern and feel engrained in that institution and the community that supports it.”
“It will be hard to cheer against Georgia Southern,” said Monken. “There is something about that blue helmet with the white stripe and those white and blue uniforms that are so iconic and so unique in college football these days. The traditional uniform of Georgia Southern is very special.”
The Eagles and Black Knights are scheduled for a noon kickoff Saturday at Michie Stadium in West Point.