Johnson — whose defensive-minded pedigree always seemed a poor fit with the Golden Eagles — is owed a $2.1 million buyout over the next three seasons. That's a further drain for an athletic program already trying to work its way out of about $1 million in debt.
The hire is crucial for Hammond, who is nearing the end of a 1-year contract. He called Monken's arrival “a return to toughness.”
Monken spent four seasons as the receivers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars before coming to Oklahoma State in 2011. He's also been an assistant at LSU, Louisiana Tech and Eastern Michigan. He said one of the pulls of the Southern Miss job is a knowledge of the recruiting area, and that there are plenty of talented players in a five- or six-hour radius around Hattiesburg.
Now he'll have to persuade recruits to come to a program that was the only one in the Football Bowl Subdivision without a win last season.
But the program has won lots of games in its recent history. Before Johnson's one-year debacle, the Golden Eagles had a streak of 18 straight winning seasons and 10 straight bowl appearances.
Southern Miss feels Monken can take them back to those days, and his pass-happy offense is a big reason.
The Cowboys averaged 44.7 points (4th nationally), 548.9 total yards (5th) and 333.4 passing yards (7th) this season after topping the 50-point mark six times in 2011.
He accomplished those gaudy numbers in 2011 with quarterback Brandon Weeden, who was a first-round pick by the Cleveland Browns, but managed the same success while rotating three inexperienced quarterbacks this season.
Monken is the latest in a line of successful offensive coordinators under Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, which includes Fedora and West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen.
“He kept our offense going at a high level and we are very grateful for what he did for our program,” Gundy said in a statement. “… Todd comes from a football family. He's grown up around it his entire life and is very driven. His energy, passion and football knowledge will make him a tremendous asset to Southern Miss football.”