Jeff Monken: "It's a great opportunity"

After coaching thirteen years with Coach Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech Coach Jeff Monken will be moving to Statesboro to take over the Georgia Southern football program. Coach Monken talked about his years with Coach Johnson, his stay at Tech and the opportunity that awaits him at Georgia Southern.

How are you handling doing both jobs? Is that something you are enjoying?

"It's a challenge. I'm spending a lot of time that I could probably be getting some rest or some sleep. It's good and I'm excited about it. I'm thrilled to be here with the Georgia Tech team and preparing for such a big game. It's a tremendous opportunity for the entire program to be in a BCS bowl game like this.

In the same regard, I'm working and putting a staff together and have been recruiting with a lot of phone calls to kids and recruiting for Georgia Southern. I'm excited about getting the program up and running. We have some coaches on the road so we're out there beating the paths. It's challenging but I'm able to manage it.

When we get into January and I'm there full time and have a complete staff, I'll dedicate all my time to Georgia Southern. This is a unique opportunity to be on both sides. I'm enjoying it and having to focus my energy."

When were you first contacted by Georgia Southern?

"It was right after the last football game down there. They let Chris (Hatcher) go after the ballgame and it was in the days to follow that."

Was the phone call something you were expecting?

"I did not expect it at all. It was much to my surprise. It's a great opportunity to be a head coach. Anytime that opportunity is presented to you, it's worth listening to because it's a vote of confidence in you as a leader."

How strange will it be after all these years to not have Coach Johnson around?

"It will be really different and it already feels different. I was there all last week and it was different not having him there. I've been with him thirteen years and I think I've learned a lot about how to run a program and how to win and how to lead. The credit goes to him for giving me the opportunity and to be able to learn under his guidance. It will be different, but I guess for every new head coach that's something you deal with. You're on your own and you take the things that you learned and try to apply them and have success in your own program."

How are you going about putting together your staff?

"I'm looking at some guys I worked with in the past and some guys I know about and people that I trust giving me recommendations to interview coaches and talk to them. These are awfully important hires for me. Being my first head coaching job, I have to have good people around me. I'm trying to hire the best people that I can."

Is there a fine line with recruiting trying to work both jobs?

"There's a transition period there and when I accepted the job, I called the kids that I have committed here and told them that I accepted the job and that I was glad they were coming to Georgia Tech. I told them this is the best place for you and I'm excited for you. I'm looking forward to watching your playing career and wouldn't want you anywhere else. I wish them luck and the other coaches that would be taking over for me and taking over the responsibility of their recruiting.

I think we've all been responsible for recruiting these kids. We've all had a hand in it. They know us all. It's not like I was the only face that they recognized. The kids that committed here feel a bond with everybody here. It makes the transition a lot easier when they feel there's other coaches they have a connection to. It's the case with those guys and I think they were genuinely excited for me. They chose Georgia Tech for the right reasons because it was the best place for them and not because I was coaching here. I told them don't choose a school because of the coach that's recruiting you. Choose it because it's the best place for you. I think those guys chose Georgia Tech for the right reasons. It shouldn't change how they feel and I don't think it has.

Has coach given you any advice?

"A lot of advice and I've asked him for a lot of advice. If it's decisions that I'm making or hiring a staff and how to handle certain situations as a head coach, I certainly have turned to him for advice and I will continue to do that. I'm not going to instantly have all the answers just because they put head coach on the door. I'm going to draw on his experience. I've known Coach long enough and he said whenever you need something, call me."

Is your family excited to go back down there?

"They're excited. My wife and I got married while I was coaching there. She's lived in Statesboro before. She's excited about it. We all are. Transition is never easy, but this is a great opportunity for my family and myself." Top Stories