Todd Monken left a good job as the head coach at Southern Mississippi to return to the NFL, but he is bringing some college pom poms with him.
The Bucs new offensive coordinator, who was introduced Thursday, has a simple philosophy that involves explosive plays and exuberant players — the gun and fun.
"It's about having the talent first. And then, I like having fun," Monken said. "I don't know why it has to feel like such drudgery. I just don't. I've never understood that. I want a fight song! We don't have a fight song! I want a fight song! Isn't a fight song cool? You get to sing a fight song. Call me a college guy. When I was in Jacksonville, they called me a college guy. That's great. I love it. I love coaching, the excitement of it. Why can't it be fun?
"Watch the Carolina Panthers. They're having fun. That looks like fun to me. I want our quarterback to have fun. I want our guys to have fun doing it together. I want the locker room to be fun. It's that harder in a pro setting? Yes, because of the change. You have so many different pieces that change, you've got to make that blend together and guys that play for more than just themselves and that's difficult in a pro setting because of the money, as we know. But you can still make it work. There's got to be more than just the money. There's got to be more than just that. The feeling of getting better and doing it for your teammates and the excitement of getting better and doing it with some people you care about.
Monken, who turns 50 on Feb. 5, worked with Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter on the Jacksonville Jaguars staff for three seasons. While Koetter will call plays, Monken will serve as the Bucs offensive coordinator and receivers coach.
The chance to return to the NFL for a "rare opportunity' prompted Monken to leave Southern Miss after three seasons, where he turned around an 0-12 program that went 1-11, 3-9 and 9-5 under his direction.
Monken said he was approached about the Bucs job about a week ago and admitted it was a tough decision leaving his job at Southern Miss less than two weeks before national signing day.
"I'm so excited to be here I can't see straight," Monken said.
The opportunity to work with quarterback Jameis Winston and a talented receiver like Mike Evans was a factor in his decision, Monken said. He visitied One Buc Place last summer to pick Koetter's brain about offense but said he had no idea he would be back as an assistant coach with the Bucs.
As an offensive coordinator, he said he believes in explosive plays in the passing game.
"I came down to visit here seven months ago, not thinking I was coming back and actually having my own office," Monken said. "But I came down here to visit and Dirk and I spoke again about how do you win? How do you win games? We went back to Southern Miss and talked about explosive plays, don't turn it over, third down conversions, touchdowns in the red zone – it's still true today. Those are the ways you win. Yards are a part of it. Not the big part of it. If you take care of those five areas…explosive plays are a big part of it. It's hard to drive it. If you're not going to be explosive, you better be good on third downs. It's all a part of it.
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"The bottom line is how can you be explosive?
"I've always thought, we don't need more 5-yard plays. Who needs more 5-yard plays? How can we be explosive? That's what the game is about, man. Big plays. I like big plays. So how do we not figure out ways to get explosive plays? That's fun. That's fun to me in football."