Word of simmering concern has seemingly reached Todd Monken in Florida.
His word back to anyone distressed about the look of Oklahoma State's 2011 offense: relax.
No, the Les Miles Power-I won't be returning to Stillwater.
And, yes, he's smart enough to recognize the plan and the pieces in place that worked so well for the Cowboys last fall.
“That's the intriguing part, the exciting part,” said Monken, OSU's just-hired offensive coordinator, via phone from his home in the Jacksonville area. “Everybody asks, ‘Are you afraid to follow Dana Holgorsen?' Well, first of all, I'm a big fan, OK?
“I mean, I'm a big fan of anybody who scores points and does it a little bit different way. He takes what (Mike) Leach did and makes it his own and has great ingenuity. I'm a big fan.”
But Monken quickly points out that his fandom reaches beyond Holgorsen, the man he must replace, but won't necessarily imitate.
“All that being said,” Monken said of Holgorsen, “it would be unfair to the coaches who are still there and the 10 of 11 starters to say that was the only reason they moved the ball.”
Monken's resume reveals varied offensive approaches.
When he was at OSU as receivers coach under Miles, the Cowboys pushed a power running game, yet also threw it enough – and well enough – to produce a balanced offense that saw wideout Rashaun Woods set various school receiving marks, some of which still stand.
And the program's back-to-back wins over Oklahoma, OSU's last wins in the Bedlam series, are memorable for their dramatic pass plays.
It was more of the same when Monken accompanied Miles to LSU, but before that he worked with wide open attacks at Louisiana Tech and Eastern Michigan.
He just completed a fourth year in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where head coach Jack Del Rio had recently elevated Monken to quarterbacks coach, a move that seemed to quell rumors of his interest in rejoining Gundy and OSU. Apparently, Gundy remained persistent, possibly finding a way to up the ante on a salary package to lure Monken to Stillwater.
Gundy clearly wanted Monken back. And not to reincorporate the Miles principles, as many message-board critics fear.
“I mean, c'mon.” Monken said. “Whatever that is, people trying to read into my background, c'mon. Really? That's what I thought I'd come do?”
When Monken left with Miles after the 2004 season, he talked about the increased opportunity to attract talent and chase championships at LSU. Now he said he sees those same opportunities at OSU.
Last spring, he used Boone Pickens Stadium for a pre-draft workout of SMU receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who eventually was a third-round pick of the Steelers. While in Stillwater, Monken and his wife stayed with the Gundys.
“It was impressive, the end zone facility, the stadium itself, the amount of money put in to at least shrink the gap from a facilities standpoint,” Monken said. “You can't change tradition. You can't buy titles. But you can give a vision of, ‘Hey, we're going to have everything else that someone has, why not us?'”
And in contemplating his return, Monken found the talent appealing, too.
“That's a big influence,” he said.
Now he's ready to go to work, beginning Monday, on building OSU's offense. Expect some of the same and also some things new.
“I've been around enough offenses to adapt,” Monken said. “I've been around enough good coaches. I'm not afraid of that. Not at all. That's why I say, I had a chance to look at it and see what Dana had done that was really good. And I thought he adapted to what they had done and he made it his own.
“It was not Texas Tech's offense. It may be a base of that. It may be a start of it. But it's his own vehicle. And he did a great job with it.”
Monken's offense won't be Holgorsen's offense. But it won't be Power-I, either. He'll use input from the remaining coaches and the other new coaches and meld it into his own concepts.
“I think there's a number of ways to skin a cat,” Monken said. “And that's in no disrespect to what they did. You can't deny the success that they had. With me coming in, I can't be that. I'm not that. I have to be who I am.
“And we have to make it work collectively, as what are we at Oklahoma State. From the coaches who are there to the players that we have, ‘OK, how do we make it work to move forward?'”
And before any concerns rise up again, know that Monken's ideas aren't at all conservative.
In fact, there's nothing conservative about Monken, a straight shooter who exudes confidence, cockiness and swagger.
“Ultimately, nobody cares other than score points and win games,” Monken said. “And that's why I'm hired. And let's face it, if I don't do that, a good friend of mine will have to fire me. And I wouldn't expect anything different. I know that's part of it.
“Mike's not hiring me to come in and just hang out. He's hiring me to come in and collectively build an offense that's our offense at Oklahoma State and can score a bunch of points and win a bunch of games.”