Todd Monken might be Oklahoma State's new offensive coordinator, but his influence on the program's rise to Big 12 and national prominence dates back to the early 2000s, when he, as the Cowboys' wide receivers coach, tutored Rashaun Woods, John Lewis, T.D. Bryant and others to major contributions.
A Wheaton, Ill., native and a product of tiny Knox College, Monken's career path has involved stops at small schools, major universities and the NFL. Now he's circled back to OSU, with his wife Terri and their son Travis, where an explosive Cowboys offense waits for him to seize the controls.
Obviously, over the six years since we left, there's a few more businesses in Stillwater. But the reality is the people are the same. We always felt like this is a group of very good people who are willing to help. We always felt like this was a neat community and very supportive and just full of good people. And that hasn't changed.
There's a lot of comfort in that. You can change buildings and there can be brighter lights, but the most important thing is the people you deal with on an everyday basis. And I think that's what's special about not only Stillwater, but Oklahoma in general.
We always liked it here, personally. We had good friends here. We won. People thought we were doing a good job here, which is important. No matter what you make, you like to be thanked and told you're doing a good job. So there are great memories here. And there were a lot of great players who helped us create those memories on the football side of it and helped me get to where I am today.
When I left, I didn't think we had a chance to win every game. From a coaching perspective, I've said this a number of times, I want to be somewhere where you have a chance to win every game. And when that isn't reality, then I don't want to be a part of it.
People want you to be honest, then when you're honest, they don't like it when you tell them something they don't agree with. I made comments before that I went to LSU because I felt like we had a chance to win every game. Then I went to the NFL and dangit if the year after that they didn't win the national championship.
I really feel with the change of facilities and with Mike and the other coaches, I think we have a chance to win every game.
They did an unbelievable job last year. Between Mike and Bill Young and Joe DeForest and Dana Holgorsen and the rest of the staff, what a great job. To end up where they did and have the guys who came out of nowhere and have the success they had, tremendous.
There's no way you can ever see the NFL from Knox College and think that's a realistic goal. People talk about goals, that's so far-fetched.
I was just wanting to coach. But with every plateau and every step you take, you think, ‘Maybe.' All of a sudden you get there and you're on the sideline across from the Miami Dolphins and I'm the luckiest guy in the world. Are you kidding me? I'm in the NFL? You talk about just an unbelievable feeling.
Knox College was a blessing. My dad was a coach. I always liked sports and liked goofing around enough to just kind of get by. You go to a small school, small classes and you've got to write and speak your mind. They know when you're not in class, which I never wanted to go to. Then you got to play football and we threw the ball around a lot. It really gave you an appreciation.