SMITH COLUMN: Georgia fans will miss Todd Monken

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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While I didn’t resort to keeping a tally sheet, I must have been asked three dozen times or more if I thought Todd Monken would be leaving Georgia for the National Football League which would be a very comfortable fit for him.

The answer was that I had no idea; and furthermore, that nobody except the coach himself knew. The coach was not talking.  My instincts told me that he would leave for the right opportunity and that it would likely be the NFL. To begin with, he certainly is not an old man at 57, but that means he would not likely land a big-time Power Five college job.

There are plenty of Southern Mississippi opportunities out there. He tried that, and it didn’t fit. His resume is chockfull of plusses but there is not a Power Five AD likely to come calling unless it is one where winning is little more than a pipe dream. However, had one taken a chance with Monken, that decision would likely have made him a very smart AD.

Monken always preached “complimentary” football. In addition to finding a way to score and score often, you work to keep from putting the defense at a disadvantage. Many coordinators try to validate their reputations by slinging the ball in the fourth quarter to fatten the offensive stat sheet.  Monken wanted to complement the defense. He was not about accumulating stats. He is a “team first” advocate.

Conversations with him were quite illuminating. After one session last spring, I was reminded of a visit with Bum Phillips, when he was in retirement at his ranch in Goliad, Texas. The worst job he ever had, Bum said, was when he was the defensive coordinator for Sid Gilman of the San Diego Chargers. Many considered Gillman to be an ingenious offensive guru. Gillman also had that same opinion of himself.

Bum said the only thing Gillman cared about when it came defense, was to prod the coordinator to get the ball back to him so he could pile up yards and touchdowns and then impress the sportswriters with his offensive genius. What can we do offensively that helps the defense, was incorporated in Monken’s mantra.

I hate to see him go but am glad he came our way. At Baltimore, Monken will be joining one of the most stable franchises in the NFL. 

John Harbaugh is a seasoned and highly respected head coach. He will let Monken run the Raven offense, just as Kirby Smart allowed him to do at Georgia.