It was an Ernie Banks kinda day. Why not write two? This story came from an insightful, and rare one-on-one phone interview with Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken. Turns out he’d been to Tuscaloosa before. I thought his story was interesting enough for a bonus story. Here it is:
TUSCALOOSA — It’s been 22 years since Jeff Monken made his first and only trip to Tuscaloosa.
Fresh out of Division III Millikin College, the young coach arrived for the job interview he’d begged to land. For a small-town kid from Illinois, coaching at Alabama was a fantastical prospect.
He was in awe.
Fate, Monken learned, has a strange way of intruding. He didn’t get the graduate assistant job (at first), so he took the other option. By Saturday afternoon, Monken will make his Bryant-Denny Stadium debut as the head coach at Georgia Southern.
The stadium has grown three times since that 1989 interview that left him in a bind.
It was assistant coach Jim Fuller who agreed to the interview after some pestering from the eager college senior. Everything went well. He ate at Dreamland, and still remembers Peggy was the nicest secretary he had ever met.
But the job went to a local high school coach.
“I really didn’t know anything about football or coaching,” he said. “I grew up a coach’s kid, but I was a college senior. Just to be a part of a program like Alabama was a thrill for me.”
So he moved on. An interview led to a G.A. job offer at the University of Hawaii. It was a no-brainer. He was headed west.
Then his phone rang. It was Fuller.
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