Tahlequah Daily Press

College Sports

December 11, 2012

Monken leaving OSU for Southern Miss

STILLWATER — For Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, it’s deja vù all over again.

Two years after offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen left Oklahoma State to become the coach at West Virginia, the Cowboys are once again looking for a new offensive coordinator.

According to multiple sources — including the Hattiesburg American in Hattiesburg, Miss. — Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken will be named Southern Mississippi’s coach Tuesday, ending his two-year stint as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator.

Sources also have indicated Monken will not coach the Cowboys in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1, opting to start building his staff and focus on recruiting immediately.

It’s not clear how Oklahoma State will handle the play-calling duties during the bowl game. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy used to call plays before handing those duties to Dana Holgorsen after the 2009 season.

Southern Miss finished 0-12 this season and 0-8 in Conference USA and fired coach Ellis Johnson three days after ending their season against Memphis.

Monken had interviewed for the Southern Miss job after the 2011 season after then-coach Larry Fedora left for North Carolina, but the job was given to Johnson. He interviewed once again for the position over the weekend, this time with a different result.

Losing offensive coordinators to Southern Miss is nothing new for Cowboy fans.

The title of offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State seems to be a pipeline to the top coaching position at Southern Miss. Monken will be the third former coordinator to take the helm for the Golden Eagles, joining Fedora — who was an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2005 to 2007 — and former coach Jeff Bower.

Bower served under Pat Jones in 1989 and was named the “Coach of the Decade” by Conference USA in 2004 during his 17-year tenure as the coach at Southern Miss.

Monken becomes the third Oklahoma State assistant to leave Gundy’s staff in the last three years with Holgorsen and former special teams coordinator Joe DeForest leaving for West Virginia.

After spending four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a wide receivers coach, Monken returned to Oklahoma State in 2009 before taking over as offensive coordinator for Holgorsen in 2011. Prior to that he also served as passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach under Les Miles at OSU from 2002 to 2004 before joining Miles at LSU.

Under Monken’s tutelage the Cowboys’ offense thrived, finishing second in the nation in scoring offense and passing offense during the 2011 season. Oklahoma State was third in total offense and produced two first-round NFL Draft picks in Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.

Despite injuries to key players and a system that used three different quarterbacks over the course of the season, the offense has continued to pile up the numbers.

Heading into the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue, Oklahoma State leads the nation with the number of yards gained per play. The Cowboys are also fourth nationally in scoring offense, fifth in passing offense and fifth in total offense.

But perhaps the biggest difference from Monken’s system to the one already in place when Holgorsen left is that the Cowboys are rushing the ball more. Oklahoma State ranks No. 22 nationally in rushing offense.

Nick Snow is a sports reporter for the Stillwater NewsPress.

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