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.