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Todd Monken leaves the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at the worst possible time.

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Just when the Golden Eagles seemed to be building something special in Hattiesburg, Todd Monken bailed ship ten days before National Signing Day to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As an offensive coordinator.

Todd Monken's coaching is better than his timing.
Todd Monken's coaching is better than his timing.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

You can't keep good people. Good people move on to other opportunities, even if they're already enjoying a pretty sweet situation. Good managers accept it, though they'll do their best to prevent it. Great talent has restless feet. You enjoy them while they last.

Todd Monken, former head coach of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, is moving on. He heard the siren call of the NFL, and he accepted Dirk Koetter's challenge to join his staff at Tampa Bay. (The two crossed paths when both served the Jacksonville Jaguars.) That's not difficult to accept, even if you're a die hard Southern Miss fan. It's hard to keep good people.

But good Lord, man! Now? Just ten days before National Signing Day? When you have just recruited CUSA's 2nd best class? You gotta leave now? Merely a month removed from leading the Golden Eagles to an improbable 9-5 record and a Conference USA West title? Now?

The Golden Eagles should always be grateful to Monken for patiently enduring two horrendous seasons following the departure of Larry Fedora. How a program can go from totaling three wins in two seasons to nearly winning a conference championship is difficult to fathom. Monken must be a gifted leader. No wonder Koetter wanted him as OC.

But you gotta leave now? Now?

College football is rife with inconvenient departures, and from all sorts. Just this year, the legendary Steve Spurrier jumped ship on the South Carolina Gamecocks in midseason. That wasn't cool. But it takes a special kind of diabolical stuntman to leap from a speeding locomotive ten days before signing 23 recruits to a program you were supposed to helm.

I witnessed three head coaches abandon Arkansas State for three consecutive years, and all three of those guys had the decency to leave within two weeks of season's end. Good gravy, Todd, you have 23 kids who were expecting to play for Team Monken in ten days! How did your road-weary staff take the news? Are you taking any of them with you to Tampa Bay?

Todd Monken's defection won't likely destroy Southern Miss, at least not permanently. But you can be sure that at least 23 kids were watching Monken's press conference with sinking hearts. Especially after months of listening to the Golden Eagles' coaching staff say "Stick with us. Don't flip! We're behind you." Todd Monken left for greener pastures the moment Southern Miss recruits are tempted to do the same.

I have zero doubt that Monken feels bad about this whole mess. I really do. Nobody likes to leave in a lurch people who trusted you. Was it tougher knowing that Southern Miss was the first program to trust you with the car keys? That your job was secure despite a 13-25 record?

You can't keep good people. But you wish they'd leave you under better circumstances than Todd Monken did.