Now that it is official that Todd Monken is headed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their new offensive coordinator, it is time to start looking at candidates for the open position.
I know, it has been less than 24 hours and you need time to grieve the loss of a head coach that lead Southern Miss back from the abyss into national relevancy. His time was short with the program, but he turned the Golden Eagles into a threat once again.
There will be time to reflect on his time with the program and just what his three years meant to everyone, but National Signing Day is on February 3 and the Golden Eagles desperately need someone leading the program into that pivotal day.
Let's look at a few candidates (conventional and a bit out of the box) that could step in an lead Southern Miss forward.
Chip Lindsey: The walk-off game-winning grand slam of a hire. The Southern Miss fanbase loves Lindsey and would welcome him back from Arizona State with open arms. Lindsey was the high school head coach of senior quarterback Nick Mullens and the play caller for the 2015 Southern Miss offense that broke multiple school records in route to a C-USA West Division title. He would immediately be a fan and player favorite as head coach.
David Duggan: A hire from within the program, Duggan has been the offensive coordinator with the Golden Eagles since 2013. The defense has taken several significant steps forward under Duggan and looked very good in 2015. Other than the 2012 season at North Carolina, Duggan has spent every year since 2008 with Southern Miss. He does not have quite the impact of Lindsey, but his hire would stabilize recruiting moving forward.
Jay Hopson: A Mississippi native, Hopson is currently the head coach of the Alcorn State Braves. He has put up a 32-16 record with the FCS program and seems to be one of the next big coaching hires at the FBS level in the future. Hopson has been with the Golden Eagles coaching staff twice, 2001-2003 (DB coach) and 2005-2007 (Defensive Coordinator).
Bill Clark: The UAB head coach is an extreme long shot, but he has to be mentioned for the job. Clark was 6-6 in his only yead at leading UAB, but is proving a pivotal role in bringing the program back from termination. He is an excellent coach and recruiter, but has put in too much at UAB to leave for this job.
Rhett Lashlee: Our friends over at College and Magnolia mentioned this possible candidate from Auburn. Lashlee is young (32), but he is very experienced as an offensive coordinator with stops at Samford (2011), Arkansas State (2012), and Auburn (2013-Current). He would bring energy and passion to the position, but his youth would scare some away. Lashlee may be a great fit in the future, but not for this coaching search.
Tyrone Nix: How about a coach that has lots of Southern Miss ties, but is not on the staff currently? Nix fits that bill. The 43-year old is the defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee, serving that position since the 2012 season. He is a former Golden Eagles linebacker from 1990-1993, named as a team captian in the 1993 season. Nix was with Southern Miss coaching from 1995-2004, before leaving for South Carolina. A very fanbase friendly pick.
Will Hall: An out of the box pick, Hall is the current head coach at West Georgia. He has been one of the best Division II coaches since 2011, amassing a 49-16 record during that time. Hall is only 35, making him one of the younger head coaches in college football. Hall will make the move upward to the FBS at some point, but this would be too much of a risk pick for Southern Miss right now.
Matt Luke: The Co-Offensive Coordinator at Ole Miss, Luke helped lead the offense of the only team to beat Alabama in 2015. He was also the offensive line coach for a group that included possible #1 overall pick of the NFL Draft, Laremy Tunsil. A Gulfport native, Luke is familiar with recruiting in the area and would be a solid choice if some of the top candidates turn Southern Miss down.
Doug Meacham: The white whale for Group of Five programs, many teams have tried to get Meacham to leave TCU. Meacham has not bit yet, but it would be worth at least making a phone call to see if he has any interest. He will be a head coach somewhere soon, why not see if that somewhere is Southern Miss?
Mike Yurcich: Why am I listing Yurcich as a candidate? Quite simply, the Golden Eagles have a bit of an infatuation with Oklahoma State offensive coordinators. Jeff Bower, Larry Fedora, and Todd Monken were all offensive coordinators for the Cowboys right before taking the job with Southern Miss. While I doubt he is the pick, he has to at least be mentioned.
Reed Stringer: Stringer is the current associate head coach for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, also coaching tight ends and coordinating recruiting. He will end up as a head coach for a program at some point. Stringer has brought in several quality recruits during his time with the Ragin' Cajuns and is one of best recruiters in the nation. Expect to hear his name quite a bit in the future.