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Southern Miss hires Monken as head coach

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Southern Mississippi has hired Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken as its next football coach.

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Monken was introduced during a Tuesday afternoon press conference on campus. He comes to the Golden Eagles after two successful seasons leading the Cowboys' high-scoring offense, which is averaging nearly 45 points per game this season.

Monken replaces Ellis Johnson, who was fired on Nov. 27 after finishing with a 0-12 record in one disappointing season.

It's the second time in five seasons that Southern Miss has brought in an Oklahoma State offensive coordinator to lead the program.

The Golden Eagles hired Larry Fedora away from the Cowboys after the 2007 season. He finished with a 34-19 record over four years at Southern Miss before leaving to become North Carolina's coach.

The 46-year-old Monken is a veteran offensive assistant at both the college and NFL level.

He 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'll have a tough job at Southern Miss, which suffered through a disastrous 0-12 season under Johnson. The Golden Eagles were the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision that finished without a victory.

Johnson - whose defensive-minded pedigree always seemed to be a poor fit with the Golden Eagles - is owed a $2.1 million buyout over the next three seasons.

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.

Fedora led the Golden Eagles to one of their best seasons in 2011, finishing with a 12-2 record, No. 19 national ranking and Hawaii Bowl victory.

Southern Miss feels Monken can have the same type of success.

His offense averaged 44.7 points (4th nationally), 548.9 total yards (5th nationally) and 333.4 passing yards (7th nationally) this season and topped 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.

Now it's Monken's turn to get a chance at leading his own program.

``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.''

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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