Jimmy Johnson is a coaching legend, but boy was he wrong about Matt Monger

Jimmy Johnson is a coaching legend, but boy was he wrong about Matt Monger

Two on OSU: Before he was a two-time Super Bowl winner and a Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jimmy Johnson was a rookie OSU head coach who told a freshman walk-on named Matt Monger that he was wasting his time with football.

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

| Jan 24, 2024, 6:00am CST

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

Jan 24, 2024, 6:00am CST

STILLWATER — Jimmy Johnson is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, the last coming 30 years ago this month.

But in 1981, Johnson was a first-year, first-time head football coach at Oklahoma State about to tell Matt Monger he should quit the sport.

Johnson waved Monger, a freshman walk-on from Miami, Oklahoma, to come sit with him in the Lewis Field stands, where he would tell Monger he was wasting his time trying to play football and that it might be time to concentrate on his grades.

Monger didn’t quit, instead becoming an All-Big Eight linebacker his senior season and making 175 tackles, still the second-most by any Cowboy in a single season. 

Monger went on to play five seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. On this episode of Two on OSU, Monger, now a financial advisor in Tulsa, reflects on his three seasons in Stillwater playing under Johnson and how Johnson and a talented coaching staff changed his life.  

Episode highlights:

2:43 Jimmy Johnson’s ‘press on’ theme foreshadowed his coaching stardom

3:46 How Johnson inspired loyal players, not mercenaries

5:57 Monger “was a scrub” when he walked on the team

7:50 Jimmy Johnson asked Monger to quit

11:20 A case of mistaken identity helped Monger get on the field

17:15 Johnson was helped by a strong cast of assistant coaches

19:20 The best speech Johnson gave resulted in putting Monger on scholarship

Producer: Jacquelyn Musgrove

Creative Director: Michael Lane

Social media team: Michael Martin, Bobby Howard

Director of Content: Mike Sherman 

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Ben Hutchens and his twin brother Sam cover Oklahoma State for the Sellout Crowd. After a decade of living in the state, Ben finally feels justified in calling himself an Oklahoman. You can reach him at [email protected] and continue the dialogue @Ben_ Hutchens_ on social media.

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