Syracuse has now lost two defensive coordinators to the Big Ten in the span of two months. First, it was Tony White, making a lateral move to Nebraska (for probably considerably more money), and now Nick Monroe, Syracuse’s interim DC for the Pinstripe Bowl against Minnesota, has left to go to SU’s Bowl opponent.
If this move were to happen from any other school, at any other time, nobody would blink an eye. Monroe’s ties to Golden Gophers DC Joe Rossi go back to their time at Allegheny College, when Rossi played D-Line and Monroe was a grad assistant. Monroe comes from a family of coaches; his dad Marty coached at Minnesota when Nick was growing up, and the young Monroe would go to fall camp practices as a middle schooler. Nick played his college ball at D2 St. Cloud State, where he was an All-American. The connections are clearly there.
But after playing Minnesota in the Pinstripe Bowl, this feels like a sucker punch for Syracuse. Even though SU hired Rocky Long to be its defensive coordinator, the 72-year-old father of the 3-3-5 defense, is clearly at the back end of his coaching career. Monroe was clearly in position to take the step up after Long retired. Instead, he makes a lateral move to go to Minnesota, where he’ll take the same position, maybe at a higher salary, but still play second fiddle to Rossi, who’s 47 and in the prime of his coaching career.
There were times this year when White stepped away and let Monroe call defensive plays. Maybe that’s not the same with Long. But from a pure football perspective, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Money-wise, maybe.
On the gridiron is one thing, but off the field, Monroe’s absence will hurt Dino Babers in the worst way possible. Monroe is Syracuse’s ace recruiter, having drawn the Trill Williams’s and Mikel Jones’s of the world to the Hill. The transfer portal is more important that ever in today’s world of college football, and someone needs to sell that SU brand. Guess that will fall more than ever on the shoulders of Babers and the rest of the coaching staff.