Head football coach Todd Monken resigned Sunday afternoon to become the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It’s been a privilege to lead this program over the last three years,” Monken said. “We have accomplished a lot in rebuilding the Southern Miss program, and we did it together.”
After going 4-20 from the years 2013 to 2014, Monken completed a turnaround for the ages as he led Southern Miss to the Conference USA Championship game behind a 9-5 record.
“It’s difficult news, but at the same time I’m happy for coach Monken,” said athletic director Bill McGillis. “Coach did an incredible job here of rebuilding our program.”
Most pundits and fans predicted Monken would leave after this season, after going 9-5 in one of the most bizarre turnarounds in recent college football history.
When numerous jobs opened up, Monken’s name was floated as a candidate for the respective positions. But Monken said he could not refuse this job opportunity.
“I’m at peace it’s the right decision for me and my family,” Monken said. “Perhaps the hardest part about it is probably the timing of it, which I something I couldn’t control.”
Monken will take charge of a Buccaneers offense that placed fifth in yards per game, but placed 20th in points per game. He credited leaving the move for newly hired head coach Dirk Koetter, who worked with Monken with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2007 to 2010.
“I’ve known Dirk a little under ten years and I have the utmost respect for him as a coach and a man,” Monken said. “After much reflection, we decided this was a position I couldn’t pass up.”Specifically, he will take charge of the maturation of former No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston. Winston completed 58.3 percent of his passes as a rookie and finished 41st overall in quarterback rating. As a rookie, Winston has a long way to go in his development as a quarterback.
Monken will leave behind capable leaders to take the mantle in his place. Defensive coordinator Dave Duggan will stay as well as senior quarterback Nick Mullens. Mullens will specifically have to grab this situation by the horns if he wishes to capture a C-USA championship next year during his senior season.
“We have a lot of momentum with this team and with this program,” McGillis said. “That’s why the job is going to be so attractive.”
With Monken leaving, Southern Miss will search for their fifth head coach in the past five seasons. USM will again be looking to pick up the pieces as they quickly search to fill the vacancy.
“I want to find a head coach that can win in 2016 because we are going to have a championship football team,” McGillis said. “We would love to have a head coach who could be here for the next 18, 20 years.”
Monken’s successor will have a sizable pool of talent to compete for a spot in the C-USA Championship. Mullens, Dylan Bradley, D’Nerius Antoine and D.J. Thompson, among others, will return in the black and gold, regardless of who is in charge.
“Those goals are still out there,” Mullens said. “Whoever our next leader may be [this team] is also team-led and thats what its going to be about [my] senior year.”
The search for the new head coach at Southern Miss has begun.