Monken hires defensive coordinator

Army's Jeff Monken has decided on a defensive coordinator for the Black Knights. Look inside for that story and more about's Army new football staff.

New Army head coach Jeff Monken put together most of his offensive staff rather quickly. He has been very methodical in hiring his defensive staff. Monken has decided to hire Ball State Cardinals defensive coordinator Jay Bateman. Bateman had a long association with Ball State head coach Pete Lembo. He had run Lembo's defenses at both Lehigh and Elon. In his three years as the defensive coordinator the team's point allowed totals and win totals improved each year. This year's ten win Cardinal team had the second best finish in school history. The Cardinals were one of the top teams nationally in forcing turnovers with a total of 31. Bateman ran a 4-3 scheme that was opportunistic but essentially played a bend- but-don't break scheme that generated some pressure with 27 sacks. Army was able to offer Bateman a nice raise over the $126,500 salary he made last season. Bateman is a solid recruiter who covered Indiana, North Carolina and Georgia for Ball State. The Army athletic department hasn't announced his hiring but it's a done deal.

Many thought former West Point graduates and football captain Ben Kowitca would be named defensive coordinator. Kowitca was the New York Jets special teams coach last year. Monken interview the decorated combat veteran. He was impressed with Kowitca and offered him a spot on the staff. One Army fan site had Kowitca being named defensive coordinator. Ben was offered a job but never offered the defensive coordinators role. He interviewed a few days later with the Washington Redskins and took a more lucrative offer to be their special teams coach. Monken also interviewed Nate Woody who was Appalachian State's defensive coordinator last season. Woody is best known for his long tenure as Wofford's defensive coordinator. He was not offered a job.

Monken is expected to hire Giff Smith as his defensive line coach. Smith didn't coach last season. He coached from 2010-2012 in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills but lost his job when the entire defensive staff was fired. Smith coached with Monken at both Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech and they are friends. This wasn't just a buddy hire. Smith is a talented recruiter who served as recruiting coordinator at both Georgia Tech and Tulane. At Georgia Tech, in 2007, he secured the commitments of running back Jonathan Dwyer, defensive back Morgan Burnett, defensive end Derrick Morgan and quarterback Josh Nesbitt. Eight freshmen played for the Yellow Jackets that fall and it was considered one of the nation's top recruiting classes. Smith's father coached in Georgia and he has very strong recruiting ties in the state.

Former Army co-defensive coordinators Chris Smeland and Payam Saadat were let go along with long time coaches John Mumford, Tony Coaxum and Robert Lyles. Special teams coach Luke Thompson, safety coach Mayur Chadurhari and strength and conditioning coach Brett Gerch were also fired. Smeland will probably retire. Mumford is expected to join Todd Berry at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Berry hired Mumford in 2000 when he was named Army head coach. Mumford had served as interim coach when Berry was fired during the infamous 0-13 season. He had survived three previous coaching changes at West Point.

I spoke with former Army offensive coordinator Ian Shields a few days before he was expected to meet with Monken regarding his future. Coach Shields had been willing to remain as an assistant at Army. That window closed the next day when Monken announced he was hiring most of the Georgia Southern offensive staff. Shields was mentioned as a candidate for head coach at Citadel but was not interviewed. Mike Houston, former head coach of Lenoir-Rhyne, was hired by the Citadel. It left an opening at Division II power Lenoir-Rhyne who hired Shields. In the introductory press conference it was interesting to see their star quarterback Miles Freeman talk about Shields. Freeman was recruited by Shields and went to USMAPS in 2009 but realized the Army wasn't for him and landed at Lenoir-Rhyne. Army could have used Freeman at quarterback last year.

As we previously mentioned everyone except Todd Spencer and Tucker Waugh were let go from Rich Ellerson's staff. I expect a few of the Army coaches will join Shields' staff at Lenoir-Rhyne. Monken hired most of his offensive staff from Georgia Southern. Brent Davis moved from Georgia Southern to assume the same role as offensive coordinator. Former Georgia Southern offensive assistants Mitch Ware, Lamont Seward and Sean Saturnio have been officially announced as members of the staff. I was surprised Monken didn't keep one of the Ellerson assistants from Cal Poly who recruited well out West. He may have Bryan Cook who coached last year at Georgia Tech but formerly was at Cal Poly in mind for the job recruiting out West. With signing day rapidly approaching Monken is understaffed. I don't expect Monken to bring any of his former defensive assistants at Georgia Southern from last year's staff to West Point.

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