Like everyone else here, I was shocked by the news yesterday afternoon that Todd Monken was leaving his job as the head coach of Southern Mississippi and heading to the NFL. College head coaches leaving to be NFL coordinators are rare. The only example that readily comes to mind is Nick Saban leaving Toledo to be the Browns' defensive coordinator. Jeff Jagodzinski did it but was fired first because of his interviewing for an NFL head coaching job against the advice of the athletic department.
The novelty of Monken's actions are enough to make one take note of the situation, but further complicating the issue is the timing. Jeremy Harper covered that yesterday, discussing how the timing couldn't be worse for USM. It certainly could be worse for the recruits - Monken could have signed his recruiting class and then left - but not for the school itself. USM has to scramble to find a coach and keep together what was the second ranked recruiting class in Conference USA.
There is more to it than that, however. Monken has to realize what this means for him personally. Without an amazing amount of success in the NFL and a job opening up that a school feels like he'll stay there until he retires or gets fired, it's hard to see a college ever taking another chance on Monken. Leaving Southern Miss in the lurch like this means he's basically declared an anathema in the college world.
So why would he bolt for the NFL like this? Does this point to troubles at USM in some variety? I'm far from a full time Golden Eagles writer, but I do recall some discussion among Auburn folks that there was more behind Ellis Johnson's rough season with USM in 2012 than just injuries and bad coaching once he was hired as the Tigers' Defensive Coordinator in 2012. Perhaps Monken felt the need to get out and away from their administration.
All things considered, the simplest answer is usually the correct one, right? Perhaps he just wants to be in the big leagues. An NFL job opened up and he felt this was his big chance. He sees his future in the NFL, and while it obviously hurts - he choked up a bit at the end of his press conference - he still felt it was the best decision for him going forward.
There's no way he doesn't know that he's burned not just a bridge, but also any bridge holding ties in college football with this move. He probably just figures it won't matter. The NFL runs the best recycling business in the world when it comes to its re-use of coaches, so if you want to stay in the League once you get there, it's not that hard. He's already spent time there as a coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars, so perhaps he just feels more at home in The League.
No matter what the reason, it's highly unlikely we'll ever see Todd Monken in the college ranks in the future. That's a shame, too. Monken is a bright offensive mind and he really had USM on a great track. Unfortunately, he's leaving them in an absolute scramble mode to recover from his departure, and he's abandoning the recruits who committed to play for him as well. It's a great example of one of the seedier parts of college football and how coaches are treated vs how players are treated.