COLUMBIA, MO. • Six years ago, Ted Monachino was winning a Super Bowl as a Baltimore Ravens assistant, serving as the position coach for Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis.
Three years ago, Garrick McGee was Louisville’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, calling plays for a young Lamar Jackson, who a year later would win the Heisman Trophy. It was the third of McGee’s four stops as a Power 5 coordinator.
This year, Monachino and McGee share an office inside the Mizzou Athletics Training Complex as first-year staffers under Barry Odom, both holding new positions as part of the largest staff in team history. Aside from the 10 position coaches working under Odom, the staff includes five quality control analysts (two offense, two defense, one special teams), four graduate assistants (two offense, two defense), a separate offensive assistant and six more staffers who work exclusively in the recruiting department.
Then there are Odom’s newly created senior analysts, Monachino (defense) and McGee (offense).
While Odom, 41, is still a relative newcomer as a college head coach, Monachino, 51, and McGee, 45, came to Mizzou this year — or came back to Mizzou in Ted’s case — having each spent the last 22 years on college and NFL coaching staffs.
The supersized staff is among the latest trends in college football. Committed to surrounding himself with more experience, Odom jumped on board this offseason.
What exactly does a senior analyst do for the Tigers?
“The first thing is advance scouting,” said McGee, who has been a coordinator at Northwestern, Arkansas, Louisville and Illinois and was Alabama-Birmingham’s coach for two seasons. “I stay a week ahead. We’re preparing for South Carolina right now, but I prepared for South Carolina last week when we were playing Georgia. Now I’m onto Alabama.”
Each week, when the Tigers meet on Sunday nights to prepare for the week ahead, the senior analysts present the scouting reports they’ve compiled on the next opponent. For Monachino and McGee, that means hours of film study to learn formations, schemes, tendencies and personnel.
“I’m watching as much film as I can get my hands on,” said Monachino, a former Mizzou linebacker who spent the last 12 years as an NFL assistant in Jacksonville, Baltimore and Indianapolis. “Historical film still plays because those (opposing coaches) have a DNA."
Studying film has always been one of McGee’s favorite parts of the job. He grew up in Tulsa, Okla., the son of longtime high school coach, Larry McGee. Game film was a part of life.“I’m one of those guys who could sit in front of a screen and watch video for eight hours a day,” he said.
In the office they share with special teams analyst Dave Ungerer, another veteran coach with three decades of college experience, McGee and Monachino bounce ideas and observations off each other while putting together their weekly reports.
“I’ll say, ‘Ted, look at this blitz,’” McGee said. “Or Ted will say, ‘Look at this protection. What do you think they’re trying to do?’ We spend a lot of time talking ball, man. It’s pretty cool.”
On the practice field and during games, the analysts are prohibited from instructing players. Instead, they mostly observe and scribble endless notes to share with the rest of the staff. Monachino describes his on-field duties as “assist, support and simplify.” During games, the analysts become an extra pair of eyes for Odom and his coordinators. They’re not allowed to have any electronic communication with other coaches, only face-to-face conversations.
On game days, Monachino stands far away from the action on the field and takes notes with a wet erase marker on every play of every defensive series, then shares his notes with a defensive staffer, sometimes coordinator Ryan Walters if it’s especially pressing.
“If (grad assistant) Grant (O’Brien) gives me the thumbs up that we’re covering those things as we speak I know I can move on, erase my card and get ready for the next series,” he said.
For both veteran coaches, the hardest adjustment in these new roles is being a coach who can’t technically coach. They’re allowed to interact with players in the facility, even watch film together. But on the field in games and practices, they’re not allowed to get involved with hands-on teaching.
“Guys who are working in college football are in it because of the relationships with the kids,” McGee said. “That’s why you should be doing it. The on-field pressure moment with the kids, when he throws an interception and he doesn’t have any answers and you’re able to go up to him and settle him down, you miss that.”
“My DNA is I want to coach players, so that part has been a little difficult,” Monachino said. “But the staff has been great and they’ve allowed me to have some input where it was warranted. During training camp I took copious notes every day during practice and did a write-up of what I saw during the course of practice for how we were doing in individual (drills), how we were doing in small groups and team (drills), how we were communicating as a staff and from player to player and coach to player. There’s a lot that goes into it, and I get to stand back and take a broad snapshot of what’s going on. That’s a good place to be.”
Nick Saban is often credited with the NFL-inspired remake of college staffs. Alabama has become a haven for high-profile but unemployed coaches, including several former head coaches who have landed analysts roles under Saban, including in recent years Steve Sarkisian, Mike Locksley and this season, former Tennessee coach Butch Jones.
Alabama’s current staff includes Saban’s 10 position coaches, two directors of player personnel, two directors of player development and nine analysts. Louisiana State features 10 analysts. Tennessee employs seven quality control analysts, four graduate assistants and three player development coaches.
Back when Odom was a senior at Mizzou in 1999, coach Larry Smith had his nine assistants and two grad assistants. That was it.
McGee, who as a young coach spent two years with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was tasked withwriting coach Tom Coughlin’s play sheet by hand, worries that oversized staffs will limit young coaches’ aptitude.
“Nowadays at this level, each coach has someone to do this and do that for them,” McGee said. “Back in those days, there was one guy who did it for every coach. I think you learned a lot more about different phases of the game.”
Monachino spent the last two seasons as the Colts defensive coordinator, but he wasn’t retained after an offseason regime change. The franchise owed Monachino another year on his contract, affording him to take a less lucrative job in the short term. Monachino went to high school in Bethany, Mo., played for Mizzou in the late 1980s and got his career started as a high school coach in Pacific, Mo., and Hannibal, Mo. He was hired as the head coach at Columbia’s Rock Bridge High for the 2000 season but left to join Boise State’s staff before coaching a game.
When he talked to Odom about coming to MU for the 2018 season, one word came to mind.
“This is home,” Monachino said. “It was a situation where Coach wanted me here. I know he could have had a lot of people here because I’m sure there’s a lot of people in the same situation that I’m in. As a person that knows this place and this town and this program, it was a perfect fit for Coach and me.”
Like Monachino, McGee was owed another year on his contract at Illinois when coach Lovie Smith let him go after the 2017 season. With both analysts still earning paychecks from their former employers, Mizzou is paying them modest hourly wages — a luxury for an athletics department that ran a budget deficit last year.
“They know what their role is,” Odom said. “They’re accepting of that. They’re interested in helping our kids and helping this team get as good as we can moving forward. It’s important to them they do their job and do their part.”
Monachino knows he probably won’t be long for Mizzou. He lives in Columbia alone while his wife Amy and their youngest son Michael stayed back in Indiana. He’ll explore the NFL and college job market after the season — but not before pouring all his time into his current role. He’s been especially impressed with Odom.
“My opinion before I came through the door was that he’s as tough, as smart and detailed as I’ve ever been around,” he said. “That was what I heard from people who had worked with Coach. … He has not disappointed in any of those areas since I’ve been here. I’d love to see him be the head coach here for the next 20 years.”
When McGee was looking for his next job last spring, he was familiar with Odom’s background but didn’t know much about his program. The more he learned, the more he liked. He brought his wife Tiffany and their young sons Cameron and Grant to Columbia.Like any coach in their turbulent industry, he’s unsure what’s next beyond this season.
“The culture in place here, the town, the recruiting these guys are doing, this is a good situation,” McGee said. “There is no doubt about it. This is a good place to coach football.”
The analyst jobs might be a stopgap for these two veteran coaches, but for now, it’s more film, more observing, more learning.
“Me and Ted were just talking and the term we used was you approach this with a learner’s mentality or a learner’s spirit,” McGee said. “I want to learn more, not just about football but anything.”