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Bedlam football: What did Todd Monken mean about Landry Jones?

by Berry Tramel Published: April 27, 2012

I don’t know what OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken meant when he talked sort of crazy about OU quarterback Landry Jones.

Todd Monken, OSU offensive coordinator

Todd Monken, OSU offensive coordinator

The quote, from an espn.com story that really had nothing to do with Jones, said:

“It didn’t take long when ol’ (Ryan) Broyles went down and (OU) started running the (Bell)dozer to think, ‘Do we have our guy?’ That didn’t take long. Landry Jones went from like, ‘I’m the man,’ to all of a sudden, ‘I haven’t thrown a touchdown pass, I’m fumbling it over my head at Oklahoma State. I gotta go back and see my quarterback guru.”

You can read the full story here.

Monken I’m sure feels bad about what he said. He issued an apology later Friday. “I want to apologize to Landry Jones and to the Oklahoma football program for using them as a specific example to illustrate a point concerning how quickly an injury to a key player can impact how a team plays. While speaking to a visiting member of the media about the importance of a quarterback’s confidence and demeanor and about how quickly things can change in football, I made the mistake of making a specific reference to illustrate my point.”

A few things to ponder.

1. Monken sometimes just talks in free thought. Did he rip Jones? Absolutely. Did he rip OU? Yes. Was that his intention? No. Monken doesn’t have a lot of filters. Are we certainly accustomed to filters in football today.

2. Was Monken correct about the coaches’ confidence? No. First, the timeline. OU went to the Belldozer before Broyles’ injury, which is not how Monken presented the events. The Sooners were having trouble producing in short-yardage situations and found a remedy. Heck, OSU had its struggles in short-yardage situations. That’s a natural byproduct of the spread offense, including Mike Leach’s. Second, coaches’ confidence in Jones. No one on the coaching staff asked, “Do we have our man?” Not even privately. Coaches’ confidence in Jones is absolute. The fan base might waver from time to time, but in the Switzer Center, there’s no doubt about it.

3. Was Monken correct about Jones’ self-doubt? Maybe. I don’t know. Neither does Monken. Maybe not even Jones knows for sure. But the lack of touchdown passes down the stretch indeed became an issue, and Jones didn’t play well in Bedlam (the fumbles off sacks that Monken referenced), and Jones did spend his spring break with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., which appeared to be an affront to the OU coaches, though they declared it fine after the fact.

So what was Monken doing, bringing an opposing quarterback’s trials and travails into a conversation about the OSU quarterback derby? Monken could have just been pointing out that even established QBs have rocky roads, so don’t expect whoever the Cowboys select to have a smooth path. But Monken went too far in personalizing the downside of Jones’ season.

Monken and Mike Gundy have a strong relationship. Their friendship extends beyond football. But in whatever form their communication takes — butt-chewing or a simple “what are you doing?” — Gundy will or already has told Monken to cool it.

Oklahoma's Landry Jones

Oklahoma's Landry Jones

Not because it gives the Sooners extra incentive. Talk doesn’t affect football games. Talk doesn’t make anyone try harder or work harder. Any player that has room to work harder or play harder wasn’t giving maximum to start with, and there aren’t many of those guys at this level. But Monken’s comments reflected poorly on OSU. Talking bad about an opponent, particularly a classy opponent, which Jones is on every front, makes the Cowboys look bad. It’s unnecessary.

Monken clearly could have made his point still using Landry Jones. Say something like, “even veteran, decorated, well-established quarterbacks can struggle. Landry Jones struggled after losing Ryan Broyles. It can happen.” That’s basically what Monken meant. But what he said was much more cutting.

Monken never has struck me as a needler. A guy who says something just to get under opponents’ skin. Steve Spurrier is that way. The Ryan brothers. Heck, old adversaries Les Miles and Mike Stoops were/are that way in a certain sense, Miles never uttering OU’s name or Mike Stoops calling the Cowboys “Okie State.” Monken’s volatile statements are not premeditated, I don’t think.

And frankly, needling an opponent, the program or even the coach, is OK. But not an individual player. Zinging Landry Jones was not cool. And I think Monken knows it.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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