Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken, rumored as a top candidate for the Illinois head coaching job, said Tuesday that he has not interviewed or spoken personally with anyone at the school.
“I’m in Houston recruiting for Oklahoma State University and I have not heard from anyone about that job,” Monken said.
Monken, during a phone interview, said his next steps are trips to St. Louis and into Illinois – to recruit for the Cowboys, not meet with Illinois officials. OSU quarterback commit Wes Lunt, recruited personally by Monken, is a standout in Rochester, Ill., and likely is the subject of Monken’s visit.
Sources at OSU indicate that Cowboys coach Mike Gundy has not been contacted by Illinois officials for permission to talk to his offensive coordinator, although Monken’s agent has had some contact with officials at the school.
Monken is a native of Wheaton, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, perhaps lending to speculation linking him to the Illini job. His name has gained traction with news organizations there since Ron Zook was fired after the Illini’s regular season-ending loss to Minnesota.
The 45-year-old Monken’s roots to Illinois run deep. He’s a 1989 graduate of Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., where he was a quarterback. His father and four uncles have been Illinois high school coaches, with seven sons of the five brothers also in the business.
In his first season as OSU’s offensive coordinator, Monken’s offense ranks second nationally in scoring, averaging 49.3 points per game; and third in total offense (557.0) and passing yards (386.3).
Monken replaced Dana Holgorsen, who left OSU after one season in Stillwater for the opportunity to become the head coach at West Virginia. He previously coached wide receivers for the Cowboys from 2002-04, before leaving with Les Miles for LSU. He was entering his fifth season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, before Gundy lured him back to Stillwater, where he’s paid $400,000 annually.
Monken has also been connected to job openings at Tulane and Memphis, but declined opportunities at both schools. He figures to be a popular addition to other lists, as is the trend with successful offensive-minded coaches.
The recruiting impact of a potential Monken departure is difficult to gauge, although Lunt said he may have to reconsider his options in such a scenario.
“I’d sit back and think about it,” Lunt said in a story in The State Journal-Register of Springfield. “That’s a tough one. I really don’t know. I’ve not thought about it.
“I would definitely take it one step at a time.”
Lunt attended OSU’s 44-10 Bedlam rout of Oklahoma and came away impressed.
“It was unbelievable,” he told Scout.com. “It was my first game and all I can say is amazing. That is all I can think to say.”
Lunt passed for 3,650 yards with 30 touchdowns – despite missing four games with an injury – in leading Rochester to a second-straight Class 4A state championship. Lunt is considering enrolling at OSU in January.