When Todd Monken accepted the opportunity in January to become Georgia's offensive coordinator after a season in the same role with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, he did not receive a going-away party or any words of advice from Bulldogs-turned-Browns running back Nick Chubb.
"I had been fired, and I wasn't allowed back in the building," Monken said Tuesday afternoon on a Zoom call. "Plus, Nick is not the most talkative young man in the world. He is, however, a tremendous football player."
Chubb, who would be Georgia's all-time leading rusher were it not for some guy named Herschel Walker, ran for 1,494 yards and 5.0 yards per carry a year ago in his second season for the Browns. It would be quarterback Baker Mayfield's second-year inconsistencies, however, that helped result in a 6-10 disappointment that yielded the one-year stint for Monken.
Monken came to Cleveland from Tampa Bay, where he helped the 2018 Buccaneers to a No. 1 ranking in passing offense and a No. 3 ranking in total offense, but he is now back in the college game, where he excelled both as an Oklahoma State offensive coordinator and as the head coach of Southern Mississippi.
At Georgia, he takes over an offense that averaged 408.1 yards and 30.8 points per game in James Coley's one season in charge, which followed averages of 464.9 yards and 37.9 points under predecessor Jim Chaney in 2018. Five key members of last season's offense - quarterback Jake Fromm, running back D'Andre Swift, and linemen Cade Mays, Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson - left with eligibility remaining, providing an instant challenge for Monken.
Yet Georgia continues to assemble elite recruiting classes under head coach Kirby Smart, and Smart is giving Monken the green light to assemble whatever offense works best.
"I believe in doing whatever you have to do to win," Smart said. "I've never got on an offensive coordinator's headphones and said, 'Please run the ball right here.' My goal is to score points, and I've never said, 'Please don't score more points.'
"The reason Monken was hired is that he's a really good football coach. We're going to use his experiences and his strengths, and the players' strengths, which is much more important, and hopefully have more success."
Monken helped Oklahoma State climb into the national championship picture in 2011 with quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon, who became NFL first-round selections. He parlayed that success to the head-coaching opportunity at Southern Miss, where he took over a program that had gone 0-12 in 2012 and built it to a 9-5 team in 2015 that played for the Conference USA title and in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
His first Georgia offense is expected to be quarterbacked by either Jamie Newman, a graduate transfer from Wake Forest, or JT Daniels, a transfer from Southern California. Newman is college football's second-best quarterback playing this fall behind Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, according to Pro Football Focus, while Daniels was the No. 2 quarterback in the 2018 signing class behind Lawrence.
"It's hard to envision when you think about it, but without us having spring ball, we had not been on the field with our players throwing a football until we started camp," Monken said. "What I would say is that Jamie is a better thrower than people think, and I think JT is a better athlete. Obviously JT was a young player at USC throwing the football, and there is film of Jamie running Wake Forest's offense very efficiently.
"From the first five days, JT is a better athlete than we would have thought, and Jamie is a much better thrower."
Whoever emerges at quarterback will have running back Zamir White and receiver George Pickens, the MVP of January's Sugar Bowl dumping of Baylor, as a starting point for a supporting cast. Monken is looking forward to the task, and he is not looking back to last season's dropoff in productivity experienced by the Bulldogs.
"I've looked at the tape, but I wasn't here, so it's hard for me to assess what they did," Monken said. "The important thing is consistency. Can you consistently score against the opponents that you play each week? If you score 60 points one week and 10 the next, you are averaging 35 points a game, but you're not very good offensively."