Hello, Trenton here, and welcome to my latest article, where if you haven’t noticed by the title, I’m going to break down why I think Vanderbilt should hire Jeff Monken and run the triple option. You may be asking yourself, Who’s Jeff Monken, what’s the triple option, and why should Vanderbilt make this move? Let me explain below:
Jeff Monken is currently the head football coach at Army, with his only other lone head coaching position being at Georgia Southern, where between those two programs, he’s amassed an 86-54 coaching record, with a perfect 3-0 record in bowl games.
Monken coached Georgia Southern from 2010-2013, as he won 38 games & lost a mere 16 during his time with the program, reaching three consecutive FCS semifinal game appearances. At Army, his current record is 48-38, where he’s helped coach Army to its first-ever eleven win season, and has climbed as high as 19th in the AP Poll (Both in 2018). Monken has achieved this success on the back of the triple-option offense. What’s the triple option you ask? Let me explain below:
The triple-option or “Flexbone” offense is about as simple as it sounds as it’s an offense that has three different players that can run the ball or have the “Option” to every play. Currently, the three military academies of Army, Navy, and Air Force are the only programs in college football that use the triple option. So, one would ask, why run the triple option? Simple: it levels the playing field. It’s hard to prepare for and defend, doesn’t call for mammoth offensive lineman or elite level athletes, and helps milk the clock & keeps the opposing teams’ offense on the sideline longer.
Your next question might naturally be, “But can the triple-option succeed in the SEC?” My answer would be yes, but my natural response would be, “Can it be any worse than what Vanderbilt is doing currently?” But, before I get too ahead of myself, here’s why I think the Triple Option could have success in the power five.
The answer is simple, it’s had success in the power five before. Paul Johnson had success with the offense at Georgia Tech, coaching the team from 2008-2018, having two eleven win seasons, and having only three losing seasons in eleven tries, leading the Yellowjackets to an AP high ranking of seven. Obviously, Johnson only won three bowl games during his tenure there, losing six times (Nine total bowl game appearances), but he still found great success at an ACC school. Obviously, the ACC is not the SEC and doesn’t have SEC level athletes, but Monken would have SEC level athletes as well at Vanderbilt, or at least better athletes than what Georgia Tech could land during Johnson’s reign, which brings us to the last portion of this article, where I explain why Vanderbilt should hire Monken and commit to the triple option.
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First off, if you’re still on board with the fact that the triple option wouldn’t survive in the SEC, check out this video where Nick Saban recollects on his experience coaching against the offense, a game against Georgia Southern where the Crimson Tide gave up over 300 rushing yards as they gave Alabama all they could handle. The head coach for the Eagles at the time? Jeff Monken.
On November 19th, 2011, little ole Georgia Southern, who at the time was still an FCS program with FCS level athletes, gave Nick Saban and one of his best teams ever a lot of trouble while only completing one total pass. Now imagine what Monken can do in the SEC with the Commodores.
The Monken hire gives Vandy an even playing field with the rest of the conference, using an offense that is a nightmare to practice and prepare for, but also an offense that allows them to trot out lower level athletes than the likes of Georgia, Florida & Tennessee in the SEC East, and still have a fair shot at success.
Vanderbilt would also have stability. The Commodores could easily hire Hugh Freeze and lure him away from Liberty as a return to the SEC could be attractive to him, but just like James Franklin before him, Freeze could move onto bigger and better things in the coaching ranks if he had success with the team. With the Jeff Monken hire and the potential commitment to the triple option, Jeff Monken could have success with the program and would view Vanderbilt as the best job in college football to run the triple-option in, knowing very few teams run that offense. Monken getting to coach the flexbone in the SEC?? He would never leave!
So there you have it, if I’m Vanderbilt, or a lower level team in the power five conferences like Illinois in the Big-10, Kansas in the Big-12 & Arizona in the Pac-12, I would strongly urge getting ahead of the curve, be different, and hire Jeff Monken to run the triple option in a power five conference.