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Army's athletic director wants football coach Jeff Monken to stay

Army coach Jeff Monken, right, and 1958 Army Heisman Trophy winner Pete Dawkins watch pregame warmups before the Army-Air Force football game at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y., Nov. 3, 2018.

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By SAL INTERDONATO | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: November 29, 2018

PHILADELPHIA (Tribune News Service) — Jeff Monken's resurrection of Army's program was front and center at Army-Navy media day.

Monken continues to open eyes around college football with the Black Knights' first national ranking heading into the service-academy rivalry in 22 years.

Army, No. 23 in The Associated Press poll, has won 27 games and counting over the last three seasons, landing Monken on several Power Five head coaching candidate lists. Monken was mentioned for the Nebraska opening last year, Kansas earlier this season and now Georgia Tech as of Wednesday afternoon after mentor Paul Johnson's retirement was reported.

As Army's success trends upward, athletic director Boo Corrigan seems willing to do all in his power to keep Monken at West Point.

"It just seems his appreciation for who we are, what we are and what we are doing, developing Army leaders, fits really well for him," Corrigan said at the media briefing. "Now, it's a matter of making sure we are doing everything that we can to accomplish what he needs and what we need for the staff."

News broke after Monken's availability that Johnson was stepping down at Georgia Tech after 11 seasons. Monken said Wednesday that he designed Army's program around "the blueprint that Paul Johnson drew at Navy. He served 11 seasons (1997-2009) as Johnson's assistant at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech. Johnson led Navy to five straight bowl games and a 43-19 record from 2003-2007 with Monken as running backs coach.

"What he did there (at Navy), the job he did there to take that program from where it was to what it is now, that's Paul Johnson," said Monken, who helped Georgia Tech to a 19-7 record in Johnson's first two seasons (2008-09). "What he did, I try to model as much as that as we could when I came to Army and we are still modeling it after Paul Johnson and what he did. The toughness, the competitiveness, the support system that needs to surround the program in terms of academics and military training, it's all from him."

Monken agreed to a six-year contract when he was hired at West Point in December 2014. He received a multi-year extension in Sept. 2017 after ending Army's 14-game losing streak to Navy. Army has not revealed the length of Monken's extension.

The academy granted Monken's request that summer military training be moved up to May and June so players can return to the academy for summer classes and preseason conditioning in his first season. Army has updated its weight room and added a nutrition bar for its athletes during Monken's five-year tenure.

Monken and Corrigan talk on a regular basis about what the program needs to move forward. Corrigan said not taking Monken for granted is an important part of retaining the coach. Monken was recently named a semifinalist for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year award for the second straight season. Army's 27 wins are the most since the academy's three straight national championship years (1944-46) over a three-year stretch.

"If you don't always have an eye on the target, all of sudden the phone call comes and (he says), 'We haven't been talking,' or 'You didn't deliver on this' or 'You didn't do that,'" Monken said. "I've think we worked really hard in developing a good relationship that's built on trust."

When asked if there's anything missing from the program outside of the results on the field, Monken said, "There's all kinds of stuff but that's stuff that we talked about every day. If we were out of things that we needed or wanted, we would be getting stale."

Monken didn't reveal specifics when asked.

"That's inside conversations," Monken said.

sinterdonato@th-record.com

©2018 The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.
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Army football coach Jeff Monken shakes hands with President Donald Trump during a White House ceremony honoring the Black Knights in May, 2018.
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