Southern Miss

Southern Miss faces tough task to replace Monken, but there are options

David Duggan
David Duggan

With Todd Monken's announcement that he is leaving Southern Miss to become the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Buccaneers, the school will have its fourth head football coach since 2012.

The decision comes at a difficult time with National Signing Day taking place on Feb. 3 and spring practice set to start in late February or March.

Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis said Sunday that the search to replace Monken will likely last less than a week with a hire expected before next weekend.

He plans to conduct a national search, but there are a handful of potential candidates for the job who have close ties to USM.

Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and Southern Miss defensive coordinator Dave Duggan both were on the staff for the 2015 season, which included a 9-5 record and a trip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Lindsey took over play-calling duties in 2015 and led the Golden Eagles to a record-breaking season on offense. USM became just the second FBS team to produce a 4,000-yard passer (Nick Mullens) and two 1,000-yard rushers, Ito Smith and Jalen Richard.

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Mullens is entering his senior season at quarterback and Smith will be a junior this year. Mullens played high school football under Lindsey at Spain Park in Hoover, Ala.

Lindsey was quarterbacks coach at Troy in 2010 and was an offensive analyst at Auburn in 2013.

Duggan has head coaching experience from his time in NFL Europe, where he served as head coach of the Cologne Centurions from 2006-07. He compiled a record of 10-9 during his two seasons as head coach, including a 6-3 campaign in 2007.

Duggan has been on the USM staff for seven of the last eight years, also working under Larry Fedora from 2008-11.

Alcorn State head coach Jay Hopson is also a popular name that will be tied to the USM vacancy. He has been the head coach at Alcorn State the last four years, going 28-9 over the last three seasons.

Both Lindsey and Hopson were recently candidates for the Louisiana-Monroe job before it hired former McNeese State coach Matt Viator.

Lindsey's salary at Arizona State is $550,000. Monken was making $800,000 at USM with incentives that pushed his salary close to $1 million in 2015.

Monken's late departure puts USM in a situation where it may be best to hire someone like a Lindsey or Duggan who can keep the current staff in tact and move forward into what's expected to be a successful 2016 campaign.

North Carolina associate head coach and co-offensive coordinator Chris Kapilovic is another former USM assistant who was on Fedora's staff from 2008-11.

New Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell, who was in the hunt at ULM, also served on Fedora's staff at USM.

TCU co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie have been popular candidates for coaching vacancies in recent months, but have turned down all offers to this point.

Jeff Bower, Fedora and Monken were all offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State before they took the job at USM. The man that has been in that position the last two years is Mike Yurcich, who worked at Division II Shippensburg before making the move to Oklahoma State.

The search to replace Monken won't last long, but it's crucial to make the right call for a program that struggled mightily for three years before the 2015 turnaround.