Dec. 30, 2013
Army Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan
(Ref.: opening statement)
"First and foremost I would like to welcome (Jeff's parents) Mike and Nancy Monken. As a former coach and current coach we love that lineage. We would like to welcome (his wife) Beth (and daughters) Isabelle, Amelia, and Evangeline, happy third birthday; we thank you for coming here to being part of the West Point family. What I would like to do is take a minute and go through the timeline of events to get us to this point. On Sunday, Dec. 15th, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen and myself decided to terminate Coach Rich Ellerson's contract. It was at that point in time that we established a search committee of two people and those two people would be the superintendent and myself. We took Monday the 16th to talk to current members of the football team and former members and other friends who we know in the industry to come up with our best potential candidates. We vetted that list on Tuesday and Wednesday in order to set up the interviews. Interviews took place on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday with myself and General Caslen in attendance. Each of these interviews took place off post. As we went through that process, we established a number of tenets we were looking for in thus job. First and foremost, we were looking for an understanding and appreciation of West Point and our mission at West Point. We were looking for someone with the ability to inspire. We were looking for someone who had an established tradition of winning and fourth, an insatiable appetite to recruit. But not only to recruit but to recruit those 17 and 18 year olds to West Point. As we looked at this, there was one person who kept coming up among the many people vying for this job. Let me stress this, it was reassuring to see the value of West Point when this job became available and the number of people that had bridged for this job who understood what West Point and the young men who they get to lead while they are here. As we went through this there was one name who came up over and over again as we talked to other people. Then we had the opportunity to meet coach Monken. It was his want, his drive and his dedication to always do things right that has led us to this moment. It is now my pleasure, on behalf of the superintendent, to introduce to you, the new head Army football coach, Jeff Monken."
(Re.: on any mandate that you have to win now)
"What you will find with Jeff is that there aren't a whole lot of details that he doesn't already know the answer to. Coach Monken said in the conversations with the Superintendent and myself that he feel this is a situation where he can come in and make a difference right away. He understands what this is, he didn't come here not to win. From a mandate standpoint, any pressure that we were to put on him, this is a self-driven man that takes as much pride in what he does that it made him appealing to us."
(Re.: did you compile a short list of candidates after firing coach Ellerson)
"First and foremost, we supported coach Ellerson and his staff until the last day and we believed in them. There were some people who we had thought about, but as far as doing any type of deep dive, no we had not."
Army Head Football Coach Jeff Monken
(Re.: opening statement)
"I want to start my thanking General Caslen and Boo (Corrigan). The process of being hired as the coach at Army and how that felt, these gentlemen handled it with incredible professionalism and graciousness. I am tremendously honored and feel privileged to stand before you as the head coach of the United States Military Academy. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be the head football coach at one of the world's premier academic institutions and one of the most storied programs in college football. To walk through the Hall of Fame and see the national championships, the Heisman Trophies and the football coaches and to join that group is an incredible feeling. I'm excited about getting started. We're going to work through this process over the next few days and weeks to put together a program that our Army is going to be proud of. Our Army deserves the best and we're going to give them that. You can't imagine the sense of pride that I feel, that I know my parents and my family feel in being a part of this special place. There is no other place like West Point. We're proud to be here and be a part of developing these cadets. I accept this position with a tremendous amount of responsibility to this institution, to the young men and women who are here, to the men and women who serve all over to globe, to the history of this program. To be the head football coach is an incredible honor. We're going to produce results on Saturday afternoons. We're 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. I joined him as a graduate assistant at the University of Hawai'i in 1989. I was able to join him as a full-time coach in 1997 at Georgia Southern. We had an incredible run under his leadership. He believed in things that I have carried with me. It's a philosophy that I've bought into and believe. My experience at one of our other nation's academies was a great experience. I learned a great deal about coaching at an academy and about the young men and women that make a commitment to attend these institutions. 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 be tough and disciplined; we're going to play with pride and passion. 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. When somebody watches Army play football, I want them to turn the TV off and say `I've never seen a team play like that before. I've never seen guys play that hard.' I want that to be our football team. That doesn't guarantee victory, but without that, we're not going to have a chance. But I can assure you, we'll play with those characteristics and that will give us a chance to win every single time we play. We're going to put together a great staff. We'll put together a staff with great teachers and leaders who consider it an honor to be here. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. It's an opportunity I wouldn't have if not for some very special people. My parents, Mike and Nancy Monken who live in the Chicago area. I grew up there and my dad was my high school coach. He has four brothers who were all head high school coaches in Illinois when I was growing up. Those five men produced seven sons who are now football coaches. There are 12 of us in two generations that do this for a living. My mom was a high school teacher and a guidance counselor my whole life. I'm proud to have them here. My beautiful wife, Beth and my three children, Isabelle, Amelia and Evangeline, what a wonderful support system I have. Paul Johnson, who I coached for for 13 years, has been a tremendous influence me as a football coach. There are very few football coaches who are as good at what they do as Paul Johnson is. I'm thankful to the folks at Georgia Southern, who gave me my first opportunity to be a head coach in college. We're already assembling a staff. We've already begun the process of recruiting and have reached out to young men all over the country who I know will be honored to join this program and get Army football back to national prominence where we belong. We will give all of our cadets and the men and women who serve a team they can be proud of. Go Army and we will beat Navy."
(Re.: on strategy of reaching out to high school athletes during recruiting)
"The staff that is in place has reached out to all of those guys and they have solidified their commitments. There are a number of young men out there still who we're going to have to get our hooks into, as they say, and give them a chance to see this great institution and see these facilities. I'm confident that when we get these young men here and give them the opportunity to see this place, they're going to be sold as well."
(Re.: what would five things atop the list of things you need to get done here)
"One is recruit. We've got to get the right kids in here and we have to identify them. We do that by putting together a staff that can evaluate and seek out those young men that belong here at West Point. I don't know if there are other things that are more important than those two. The next would be the return of our veteran players and getting them ready to go for the 2014 season. Recruit, retain the ones we've got, and develop them all. Those are the three things that I think are really important. You won't sustain success unless those things are continuous in the program."
(Re.: on any mandate that you have to win now)
"There is nobody here that will have higher expectations for our team and our performance than me. 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."
(Re.: on any aspiration to return to coaching at an academy after being an assistant at Navy)
"I've always felt an incredible sense of connection to the service academies. Certainly Navy, because I coached there for six years. Those young men were incredibly special. The maturity that they have as undergraduates is apparent. They're different than a typical college-aged student. I think that was the reason we were able to win. I expect the same here. We're going to get our guys to play that way and not just to play at West Point, but to play for West Point. I'm not here to coach at West Point, I'm here to coach for West Point. We'll win because of the passion, energy and trust that we have for each other will come through every time we play."
(Re.: on importance of details and fundamentals in your coaching style)
"I believe all the little details are important, and we'll coach that. But with recruiting, I want to know everything about the young man, not just that he's a good football player or that he has good grades. I want to know every little thing about him and know that he's going to be a good fit on our team. Our uniforms, our meeting rooms, what the locker room looks like, it's detailed to the letter. I'm wired that way, I'm sure there's other coaches who are more laid back on some of the little details, but I'm not like that. It's amazing that when you coach the little details, you can point to them and the differences they make on Saturday afternoons."
(Re.: on why Navy was better than Army during your time there)
"I can't speak for Army during my six years that I was at Navy. I only know what we were experiencing on the other side. We had a team that possessed all of the qualities that I've talked about today. When our team possesses those same qualities, we'll be on the other side of it. I'm happy to say I'm 6-0 in the Army-Navy game, but on the wrong side. I'm getting on the right side this time."
(Re.: on what style of offense you will implement)
"The under-center stuff that we do is going to be very similar to what you see Paul Johnson doing at Georgia Tech. Paul was a master of using different formations and running the same plays out of different formations. In the last few years, we've added a group of 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 as well. I can't tell you how much of under center or shotgun we're going to run, but it's going to be based on the guys we've got in the program and sometimes what we feel is going to be best against a particular opponent."
(Re.: on any recruiting disadvantage because of when you were hired)
"We're going to be behind, but I don't think it takes long to get caught back up. Our staff is going to be busy on the phones and when we get the opportunity to go on the road, per NCAA rules, we'll get back out to see those guys face to face. Sometimes the newness of a program and the appeal that there is can be beneficial to recruiting. Jerick McKKinnon, who was our quarterback at Georgia Southern, is an NFL prospect and was arguably our best football player this year. We waltzed into his living room in the middle of January and hadn't had one conversation with him, but we got him on campus and he came to Georgia Southern. It was the same at Georgia Tech and Navy prior to that. When you get on board and everything's new, there's an excitement to that and I think we'll be able to take advantage of that."
(Re.: on defensive schemes)
"We're going to put our players in the best position to be successful. I can't tell you exactly what that's going to look like at this point. The one thing I know about our offense is that these guys have experience playing option football and that's going to make it easier. The terminology might change, but the fundamentals are going to be very similar and that's going to be an advantage for us. Defensively, we're going to have to evaluate who we've got and try to get our best players on the field. We're going to give them the opportunity to succeed and to make plays."