Purdue football could prioritize Todd Monken in head coaching search

TJ Sheffield (8) of the Purdue Boilermakers runs the ball as Kyle Hamilton (14) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish reaches for the tackle during the first half at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images/TNS)

ATHENS — Does Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken want to be a collegiate head coach once again?

Purdue football might soon be calling, if not already, according to a source close to DawgNation and a recent ESPN report.

The Boilermakers’ job would be a great fit for the 56-year-old Monken, in terms of the opportunity for immediate success and the parameters and personality of the job.

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Former Purdue coach Jeff Brohm left the Big Ten West Division champs on Thursday to take the head coaching job at Louisville, his alma mater, where he will make between $5 million and $5.5 million per year in a new six-year deal.

Brohm was making $4.8 million per year at Purdue in 2021, along with incentives that made his deal one of the 10 best in college football according to an Indianapolis Star report.

Monken was a head coach from 2013-2015 at Southern Miss, taking over a program that was winless in 2012 and improving the Golden Eagles from 1-11, to 3-9 and 9-5 before resigning to take over as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator.

Monken’s offensive magic led to Southern Miss being ranked in the top 20 in scoring, passing and total offense his last season.

If Monken wants to be a head coach again, Purdue is about as good of a Power 5 opportunity as he will likely find.

If not, Monken can finish this potential Georgia football national championship run and — glancing at the 2023 schedule — return for another 12-0 regular season.

The process for Purdue to find its coach — or for Monken to renegotiate another raise and stay at Georgia — will happen quickly with early signing day fast approaching and NCAA portal action on fire.

Returning to UGA is a very attractive option for Monken, as he’s already the highest-paid assistant in the country with a No. 1-ranked program that is on top of the college football world with no signs of slowing down.

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Monken has proven he can win in a variety of ways with different types of quarterbacks over his three years as Georgia’s offensive coordinator.

Stetson Bennett is headed to New York this weekend, the first UGA player since 1992 named a Heisman Trophy finalist, second in the SEC with 3,425 yards passing.

Bennett has gotten it done in a different fashion than last season, when he relied more heavily on play-action shot plays for big chunks of yardage after taking over the job for an injured JT Daniels.

Monken built this season’s offense around the talents of Bennett and his primary weapons, leading to a higher volume of shorter, more high-percentage passes to backs and tight ends.

Bennett benefitted from targets like Mackey Award winner Brock Bowers and NFL prospect Darnell Washington at tight end and versatile back Kenny McIntosh, the first UGA player with more than 600 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving in a season since Todd Gurley in 2014.

Daniels was Monken’s hand-picked choice out of the portal, and that version of UGA offense -- a Pro Style Spread with Air Raid concepts -- delivered a 7-0 run that included a program-record QB rating of 178.5 in 2020.

A Purdue source who said Monken “checks a lot of boxes” recently asked how to define Monken’s offense, and the answer was and is: Whatever it takes, depending on his talent, depending on his opponent.

Beyond his ingenious schemes and play-calling, Monken arms his quarterbacks to play the game in real time, adjusting to the pre-snap defensive alignments and movements.

Bennett shared there’s a lot of hard work and careful planning behind that flexibility at the line of scrimmage.

“It’s his ability to be so anal about the details, good lord, he’s intense, but I love it,” Bennett said. “That’s how you run an offense: it’s timing, zone and spacing.

“It’s all about those little details that if you don’t know the game, then you miss.”

RELATED: Stetson Bennett understands, responds to tough coaching

Kirby Smart would be the least surprised to see Monken — or any of his other coaches — get opportunities for advancement.

Smart learned at Alabama this is a way of life when a program has elite success under the leadership of a great coach.

Smart, himself, has cemented himself as a first-ballot College Football Hall of Fame coach with his back-to-back 8-0 SEC seasons, joining Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier as the only coaches to accomplish that feat.

There’s ample proof that coaches who have worked under Smart can find success elsewhere, with former Georgia assistants Sam Pittman, Dan Lanning, Mel Tucker and Shane Beamer all having success leading other Power 5 programs.

And, should Monken leave, experienced coordinators Mike Bobo (48 years old) and Bryan McClendon (38) are already on staff, Bobo as an analyst, and McClendon as the pass game coordinator and receivers coach.

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