Jeff Monken said, “it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” after he was introduced as Army’s head football coach Monday at West Point.
Monken said to be the head football coach, “is an incredible honor.” He told Army administration, fans and alumni in attendance that, “We will beat Navy.” He added, “I’m happy to say I’m 6-0 in the Army-Navy game (as a Navy assistant) but on the wrong side. I’m getting on the right side this time.”
Army athletic director Boo Corrigan and superintendent Robert Caslen wanted a coach, who could come in and “hit the ground running.” Winning right away is a priority and Monken doesn’t mind the high expectations.
“There is nobody here that will have higher expectations for our team and our performance than me,” Monken said. “Nobody’s going to put more pressure on me than me. I want to win. I don’t take kindly to anything else. Second place is no fun for anybody. We’ve got 4,400 cadets here that we’re going to send off as military officers and when they go out and do their work, we don’t expect them to come in second place. So that’s not going to be an option around here either.”
“We’re going to produce results on Saturday afternoons. We are going to do that by playing a certain brand of football. I have had the good fortune of working with Paul Johnson for 13 years…He believed in things that I have carried with me. It’s a philosophy that I’ve bought into and believe…We’re not going to masquerade who we are. There will be very few Saturdays that we are bigger, faster or more athletic, collectively, than the teams that we play. We always believe that it doesn’t take the best players to win. It takes the best team to win and we’re going to field the best team. We’re going to field a team that everybody’s going to be proud of. That’s the kind of team that I want to represent.”
Army’s offense will be similar to what Paul Johnson runs at Georgia Tech, Monken said. The Black Knights could run plays out of the shotgun. “Over the years, we felt like there were times when defenses would stymie us under center. We needed to have something to go to that would give us some different angles and actions. What more traditional teams are doing with the shotgun option are some of the things that we’re going to do as well.”
Monken said his six-year contract, “sends a message to everybody that is tied to this program and certainly those that we are going to ask to join this program that there’s a level of commitment here and there’s going to be stability here. From that standpoint, the years on the contract make a difference.”
Monken said he has a few assistants in place and a few others could be added in the next few days. The process of complete his coaching staff could take a few weeks. The staff will be a mix of coaches from Georgia Southern, some of Rich Ellerson’s assistants and coaches from other schools, Monken said.
Monken could be waiting on Georgia Southern quarterbacks coach Mitch Ware. Ware, an assistant at Navy from 1998-2001, is a candidate for the Georgia Southern opening.
Ellerson assistants Mayur Chaudhari, Tony Coaxum, Payam Saadat, Luke Thompson, Tucker Waugh were in attendance for the press conference. There is no indication as of Monday who Monken may retain. Coaxum is the only West Point graduate of the group.
“I’m not going to hurry and rush through that and (say) ‘Hey, we have to get a staff in place as soon as possible. These guys are available so I’m just going to hire these coaches. ‘” Monken said. “We are going to get the right guys. The guys who are a fit for Army, that will embrace this academy and what it stands for but are also outstanding football coaches and who are experts at what they do. So, we’ll have a good staff.”
Monken on recruiting bigger players, specifically linemen to West Point, “We are going to address those issues. That’s something I certainly believe we have to accomplish as a staff is getting a bigger football team, a more physical football team. Where we are at a 20-pound disadvantage to Navy, we are going to be at a 50-pound disadvantage to other teams, to BCS programs and non-BCS programs. College football players are bigger than they’ve ever been. If we are going to match them blow for blow and be able to sustain a 12-game season and a 13th game in a bowl, we have to play those people week in and week out that are bigger, we are going to have to get bigger so we can sustain our health throughout the year.
“You are going to get beat up. You are going to get knocked around and slugged around when you play this game the right way. There’s going to be a lot of contact and when big people are hitting slower at a high speed and high velocity, you are going to take your lumps. Part of that is getting bigger and part of that is developing our guys so there is a toughness and a conditioning level that sets us apart.”
Will Army continue its morning practices under Monken? “That’s something we are working through,” Monken said. “A lot of that is going to depend on the current schedule. I know there were morning workouts and afternoon meetings. We are going to try to work through those details and get back to a consistent schedule and whatever that means for the academy and our cadets. That’s something that we will determine down the road.”