Go Eagles!
 
Days
 
Hours
 
Mins
 
Secs
 
Todd Monken Weekly Press Conference

Dec. 2, 2013

Opening statement...
"It was a lot more fun on the trip back, I can promise you. It's a neat thing to travel back with your team and, for the first time in a long time, have laughter on the bus. There's nothing like young kids' laughter and excitement. It's something you felt on the bus coming back. Our team finally felt the fruits of their labor. That was exciting. We finally capitalized on some momentum. Not early in the game, but there was a moment in the second half where we got a stop and scored, then a turnover and scored, then another turnover and a score and a stop and a score... Previously, we weren't able to get a touchdown or field goal and a lot of times it happened early in games and stopped momentum. Momentum is a powerful thing and, as we got that, I felt like our players were playing at a high level. When you're beat up and you're playing youth, you need your guys playing at such a high level to give yourself a chance. I thought that's where we were at that moment and that gave us a chance to win."

On the moment he realized that Southern Miss could get the win over UAB...
"When we got the onside kick and they were offside. They had gotten the onside kick and would have had the ball down three scores with still 9 or 10 minutes left. If they get the onside kick and go score, now they're going to go back out there and kick it again... There will come a point where that doesn't faze you. So what if they get the onside kick, we're going to stop them; someone is going to make a play. We're going to figure out a way. But when you're struggling, it is human nature to feel like, 'Here we go again,' whether you want to believe it or not. So it was after that moment. It felt like even if we ran three running plays and punted, it would be difficult, unless we turned it over, to not win the game."

On postgame calls and texts from well-wishers...
"People have been waiting all year to tell you congratulations. There's a point there where you say, 'Man, I better start calling people. I'm not sure they're going to get in touch with me.' I'm joking, obviously, but it's great for our kids. People are happy for me, but also for our players and the work they put in and for our fans. That's super important. We've had tremendous support here. That's why I came here to coach. We came back Saturday night to an unbelievable crowd of people that wanted to show their support. We were excited for them to have that winning feeling again. That's big. You could feel it."

On powerful scene in the locker room post game...
"It's been a tough three or four months. Forget the offseason. You sit there and talk about all the things it takes to be successful and to win. You do these things and you are going to reap this reward. When that doesn't happen, it's hard. I think a lot of our guys did all the things we asked them to do and yet we didn't taste victory for a number of reasons, starting with me as a head coach. To have it come at that moment, I sure as heck was prepared way before then to give a postgame speech for a win. There are a lot of things that go through your mind. People thought I was mad when I got the water dumped on me. I wasn't mad, I was just reflecting on how hard it's been and where we've come and how happy I am for our players. It's why you do it. You do it for your players, the kids, for them to have the best experience they can have. I was just so happy for them. There's nothing like it. You try to tell your team there's nothing like singing the fight song in the locker room when you win and there isn't. Anybody that was in there understands that. It was great for those guys to be able to do that and feel that way and feel, in just that moment and time, the reward for all the hard work."

Asked if he joined in the singing of the fight song with his players...
"I sang. I was so dang excited I don't know if I knew half the words. I'm not even sure. There was a time I knew it and we would sing and try to remind ourselves but I don't know. I could have just cheered the whole time I was so happy, for the guys and all the work they put in and for our fans. That's really it. The people that put in the work, our coaches and the fans that support us and have been loyal Golden Eagle fans for a long, long time."

Asked if the players knew the fight song...
"The guys that knew it were the loudest, let's put it that way. It sounded good to me."

Asked what impact this win will have on recruiting...
"I'm not sure that from a recruiting standpoint it tips the scale so much. It certainly does in terms of our juice, our players' juice, or fans' juice, our coaches' juice. It energizes you to see what it can look like. We've talked about what we want it to look like. Do I think recruits want to know where you're headed? Of course. You can only talk so long... Do I think it helps? Yes. Dramatically? No."

Asked how relieved the players are to get first win...
"It's hard to say. I've only seen some of them as I've gone through the exit interviews for the season. Relief, I'm sure, is part of it. Excitement is part of it. Everybody wants to be a part of something special and it starts with winning one. The feeling of accomplishment as a group of young men, as coaches. We had a great contingency of fans that came to the game along with our band, which was awesome. Do I think that it alleviates some of the talk in the offseason about a streak? Of course it does. Is 1-11 better than 0-12? You bet it is, especially when it's the last one. Somewhere early on maybe not as much but the last one, you bet. Even when you go to bowl games it's always better when you win that bowl game because the last taste in your mouth is victory."

Asked what it was like waking on Sunday after a win...
"It was fantastic. There's nothing like it. It's everything you do. You put your name on it for everybody else to see. I love what I do. I wouldn't want to change it for the world. We've got to find a way to do it better than they do it. It is hard when you have very few hobbies. You internalize it. You think about how you can do it better, how your program can move forward. It's hard, but you learn. Ultimately, I'm responsible for it. I'm responsible for our coaches, our players and where this program goes. If I'm not positive, if I'm not motivated and I look at it any other way then I'm wrong. This is a special place. I've said it and I really mean it. I took the job here under tough circumstances. I understood that. I understand where we've got to go and I'm motivated more than ever. I'm a better coach now than I was 11 months ago and I promise you we're going to have a really good recruiting class and we are going to move forward in a positive manner."

On other pressing matters, besides recruiting, to be addressed in the offseason...
"There are two pressing matters, recruiting and your team. Let's end the year and talk with our players, while it's fresh on their minds, about how we can do it better. From equipment to training to weight room to their position coaches to myself to the training table, how can we do it better? Have them assess themselves. How can they do it better? My assessment of them. How can we assess ourselves and move forward? I can communicate this to the people who touch our players' lives. That's the most important thing is gathering information about how we can make it better ... Ultimately, we want to be able to be critiqued. I want to be critiqued. I want to be the best there is. I want to be the best head coach in the country? What can I do better? It's gathering the information of how can we get better, how can we do it better? Then we have to recruit our butts off. It's recruit, develop and coach better. It starts with who you bring into your program and what do you want it to look like?

On if he was more animated on the sidelines in the UAB win than in other contests...
"That's accurate. Early on (in the season), I was more dialed in with what we were doing offensively and (offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo) was running the offense after Game 1. I had to do that. I couldn't continue to be the head coach and recruit and try to team build and try to motivate. I was too tied into that. My emotion day-to-day was tied to how well we were doing offensively. I couldn't speak objectively to how practice went when everything was tied to that. I didn't realize that until I became head coach. As that went on and I was less tied into even, as Marcus was making the calls, critiquing the calls like every head coach does, it became, 'You know where this team needs me? It needs me to be offense and defense and special teams and energetic and seeing the game and being able to make challenges and decide when we take time outs and to really address those things.' I started to realize I needed to bring the energy. I don't care what anybody thinks. I don't care if the other head coach or the other coaches think I'm just the biggest buffoon, jumping and yelling and chest bumping and having fun. I don't care. I want our guys to feel like I'm with them and that my energy is going to be put toward them. They're kids. They want to feel excitement. They want to feel positive that their head coach is for them and I will always be that way."

Asked if he was happy, in retrospect, to have played so many freshmen and if he was pleased with the progression of these freshmen...
"It's hard to go through all of them. There's 14 of them. Some of it was out of necessity. Some of it was they were ready. Not many of them were really ready but out of necessity we had to play a number of them. There was a number of the older players that came through as they realized you just can't walk through this thing. If you really want to be a factor in what we do, especially at receiver, then you've got to compete every day. I thought there was a moment in the middle of the season with some of our freshmen where it wore on them. Then at the back end I thought some of the guys ... kind of came back and we had a little bit of an upswing. I anticipate that continuing."

Asked if the team planned any postseason recognition banquet...
"We're going to call it a senior sendoff. They haven't done it in 10 years or so. We did something special this year for our seniors and we will do that on next Sunday."

Takeaways from first year in Hattiesburg...
"There's a couple things. One is I'm a better coach after 11 months, better at staying positive and finding a way to do it better. If you're not careful you complain about everything. I talk to different coaches around the country and they've got seven, eight or nine wins and they're down. They're bummed. They feel disappointment. What do we have to be sad about? We coach football for a living and they pay us an unbelievable amount of money to coach young people and try to mentor them. I learned to be as positive as you can be even though it is very difficult to stay positive when things don't go your way. That's not human nature. Human nature is to complain. I don't have this and I wish I had that. That is not the message that we ever want to send our team. I realize that even though we weren't winning, this is a special place. It has won for a reason. We have a great fan base and an unbelievable school. This is a great place to go to school. It's going to continue to be a special place. We're closer than people think and I'm excited about our future."

Asked if any changes would be made to his staff...
"We're not at that point yet. This is a great place and we are going to have plenty of good coaches that want to come here and coach. That won't be the issue. It's going to be (finding) the right fit. It's got to be someone that will connect with our players and really takes on an unbelievable opportunity of working with a lot of young players; guys that need to be coached, need to be mentored and need to come a long way for us to be the program that I know we can be."

Follow SouthernMissFootball:    

10/21/2014 - Football

Golden Eagles in the NFL, Week 7

10/20/2014 - Football

Todd Monken Weekly Media Conference

10/20/2014 - Football

Acosta Named C-USA Special Teams POW

10/18/2014 - Football

Southern Miss tops North Texas 30-20

FACEBOOK FANCRED INSTAGRAM PINTEREST TWITTER YOU TUBE