On Monday, Itawamba Community College head coach Jon Williams resigned from his post to join Todd Monken's staff at Southern Miss. Williams is traveling some 250 miles downstate to fill the role former assistant head coach/player personnel Steve Buckley held but, unlike many of the other men in his job, he will be counted among Monken's nine on-the-field assistants and, thus, be permitted to travel off campus.
"As a coach, your job is to recruit first, develop second and coach on the field third. It all starts with recruiting the right kid," Monken told FootballScoop. "We wanted to put an emphasis on that."
Monken is able to do this because Southern Miss is in a very unique situation, in a state where junior colleges are such an integral part of the football culture, and on a staff without a lot of deep ties to Mississippi. Williams' role allows him to be on the road in the fall while the rest of the staff is on campus with a day-to-day position assignment. Junior colleges in Mississippi play on Thursdays, which allows players to attend Southern Miss games on Saturdays, but the junior colleges then practice on Mondays and Tuesdays. Having Williams count as one of the nine on-the-field staff members allows him to get out and see those practices and conduct the necessary in-person evaluations.
"That's important to us because we rely on our own evaluations," Monken said. "You don't see energy, attitude, effort and coachability on tape. You have to get out and watch a guy practice."
We believe Southern Miss is the only staff in FBS with such a structure.
Having the ability to put a full-time coach on the road full-time takes a significant load off the other eight assistants and creatively fills an important need for Monken's staff. But any extra emphasis on one area then creates a need in another. Southern Miss is able to budget around that because Monken is able to run one of the offensive rooms himself.
We wrote previously about SEC head coaches' unanimous support for 10th full-time assistant and, though we felt strongly then and even stronger now that it will not pass, the common thought is that most staffs would use an extra assistant much in the same way Southern Miss is employing Williams. Any staff looking to duplicate Monken's model within the current nine assistant structure would need a head coach with ability to run his own room in addition to the relentless duties of his own position, or a trusted GA whom the staff feels enough confidence in to be given his own room.
We really like how Monken makes this structure work specifically for his staff. We've spoken with other FBS coaches who have kicked around the idea, but don't believe any have moved forward with it. Do any of our readers have strong feelings on how they could make it work on their staff?