Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky’s first football opponent loses its head coach

Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken resigned Sunday to become offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken resigned Sunday to become offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Biloxi Sun-Herald

A weird thing happened Sunday. Kentucky’s first opponent for the 2016 football season lost its head coach. Ten days before national signing day, Southern Miss coach Todd Monken resigned to become offensive coordinator of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Dirk Koetter, the Bucs’ new head coach, worked with Monken as members of Jack Del Rio’s staff with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After replacing Lovie Smith as the Bucs’ head coach, Koetter offered Monken the job. Monken, who coached Jacksonville’s wide receivers, accepted over the weekend.

It’s a tough break for Southern Miss, which went 9-5 and reached a bowl game last season. The Golden Eagles were 0-12 the season before Monken, then the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, took the job. USM went 1-11 and 3-9 in Monken’s first two seasons before breaking through last season, going 9-3 in the regular season.

Monken’s team led Western Kentucky 21-7 in the C-USA title game before losing 45-28 to the Hilltoppers. It then lost to Washington 44-31 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Athletic Director Bill McGillis told the Biloxi Sun-Herald that he intends to have a coach “before next weekend.” According to various scouting services, Southern Miss was about to sign the second-best recruiting class in the conference. It will be interesting to see what happens now.

By the way, Monken was just recently named the Clarion-Ledger’s Sportsman of the Year for 2015.

Kentucky football’s 2016 schedule

Date

Opponent

9/3/16

Southern Miss

9/10/16

@Florida

9/17/16

New Mexico St.

9/24/16

South Carolina

10/1/16

@Alabama

10/8/16

Vanderbilt

10/22/16

Mississippi St.

10/29/16

@Missouri

11/5/16

Georgia

11/12/16

@Tennessee

11/19/16

Austin Peay

11/26/16

@Louisville

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