STILLWATER — With Mike Gundy taking himself out of this year's coaching carousel following flirtations with Tennessee and Arkansas, the focus for Oklahoma State now turns to offensive coordinator Todd Monken and his potential opportunities to become a head coach.
Monken has made it clear that's his ultimate goal. And he's a legitimate candidate after directing a Cowboy offense that remained potent in 2012 despite losing two first-round draft picks in Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, needing three starting quarterbacks and several injuries on that side of the ball.
But Monken's not going to leave Stillwater for just any head coaching job. It must pay more than the handsome $600,000 salary he makes at OSU, and provide him with a realistic chance to win and continue to move up the coaching ladder.
Of course, the coaching dominoes have not finished falling, as more jobs will come open as others are filled. But here are five current vacancies for which Monken would be a good fit.
The Bulldogs certainly like their offense — and have already mastered the Air Raid system that Monken runs at OSU. Under former coach Sonny Dykes, who took the Cal job last week, Tech led the nation in scoring with more than 51 points per game. Monken also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Tech from 2000-01. This is a program that spent time ranked in the top 25 this season and paid Dykes $760,000.
Of course, Texas Tech has been a hub for the Air Raid spread for more than a decade, and Tech watched Monken's version shred the Red Raiders for 66 and 59 points the past two years. Additionally, Monken's familiarity with the Big 12 and the recruiting grounds in Texas could make him an attractive candidate.
Monken was a candidate last year for this job. The gig eventually went to Ellis Johnson, who was fired after going 0-12 this season. Southern Miss also has a history of hiring OSU offensive coordinators, as Jeff Bower and Larry Fedora both went from running the offense in Stillwater to head coaching in Hattiesburg. Fedora, of course, parlayed the Southern Miss job into an opportunity to coach North Carolina.
This has become a prime steppingstone job for an offensive-minded coach, as Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn now lead SEC programs. Arkansas State has also shown a new willingness to open its checkbook a bit wider for its head coach, with Malzahn earning about $850,000 this season after Freeze was the lowest-paid Division I coach the previous year (just more than $200,000).
This is a program that was once a factor in the Big 12 but is now one of the nation's worst. This job would provide a chance to be the head coach at a BCS school in a beautiful city, but is it a place Monken could win?
Other jobs currently open: Florida International, Kent State, Temple, UTEP, Western Kentucky, Western Michigan, Wisconsin