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Syracuse football: A look at some possible replacements for Nick Monroe

This one is going to be tough to replace.

Utah State v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Well, since it’s reported that Syracuse Orange cornerbacks coach and long time recruiting guru is heading home to Minnesota after impressing them during the Pinstripe bowl, I guess it’s time to look at a few options for Rocky Long to use to fill in the gap. Monroe leaves to take a role as co-defensive coordinator with the Gophers after being part of Dino Babers’ staffs since his Bowling Green days and was at Colgate prior to that, so a long time spent in Central New York.

Some of these are swings for the fences and there’s no order of preference, but more stream of research. Of note, it’s much easier to find a defensive backs coach than it is to find a recruiting guru...

Rocky Long Coaching Tree:

Demetrius Sumler - San Diego State Safeties

Sumler is the current safeties coach at SDSU, remaining after Brady Hoke took over for Long when he retired in 2020. He was in that position for five years with long before that. He would be a solid fit development of talent-wise, but his recruiting expertise is noted in his bio as Inland Empire and Arizona, which isn’t helping us out a ton.

Kurt Mattix - San Diego State DC

Took over for Long as DC of the Aztecs when he retired and is a disciple of the 3-3-5, continuing it’s use at SDSU under Hoke. He also has experience recruiting Florida and the Midwest, with roots in Tennessee and coaching stops throughout the middle of the country up to Michigan. If this is a “convince a booster to help pay a guy to take over for Long in a few years” situation, it’s not a bad option.

Danny Gonzales - New Mexico Head Coach

A huge long shot, but if he gets sacked at New Mexico after a few dismal seasons in a row (2-5, 3-9, 2-10), he may need a fall back as a position coach. His old pal Rocky Long has a need for secondary specialists and Gonzales coached with Long for a long time as his cornerbacks coach until getting the UNM gig. If he needs a safety net, there isn’t much to complain if he wants to come here.

Ephraim Banda - Utah State DC

Banda may be a longshot as a DC to position coach hire, but he’s also an ace recruiter since his days in Miami, with ACC experience as well. His time on Manny Diaz’s staff and a peripheral connection to Long through Brady Anderson would make him a great option for the Orange and compliment to the staff. His classes for Miami, especially the DBs, were outstanding and would be a huge asset to the Orange.

LaMarcus Hicks - Utah State CB

Under Brady Anderson, former Long assistant, Hicks is the current CB coach at Utah State. He’s been this side of the Rocky Mountains for a few stints at Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan.

Dino Babers Coaching Tree:

Not much juice to squeeze here. He brought most of the “Familia” with him, and of those he didn’t, Mike Mickens is the CB coach for Notre Dame, Nick Caley is coaching tight ends with the Patriots and Ryan Downard is the safeties coach at Green Bay.

Through Sean Lewis’s stint at Kent State, there’s the options for Jason Makrinos, a Pennsylvania guy who was his safeties coach who headed to NC A&T after Lewis left for Colorado, and CJ Cox, who stayed around at Kent on the new staff after Lewis’s departure.

Other options:

Dominique Bowman - Arkansas CB

While no real connection to the staff, Bowman just parted ways with the Arkansas team to pursue other opportunities, which means he’s a hot coach that’s now on the market. Definitely worth a conversation to see if he wants to hang out up north for a bit. He’s worked within Barry Odom’s Drop-8 system for a few years, which could translate to the 3-3-5’s heavy emphasis on DB play and the need for development.

Chris Hampton - Tulane DC

It wouldn’t be unheard of for a G5 DC to move to a P5 position coach, but it’s unlikely for what I’m sure we’re paying them. He’s a strong up and coming candidate and was the DBs coach prior to DC for the Wave. He’s also got ACC coaching experience at Duke. If there’s a “DC in waiting” shot under Long, maybe you give him a call.

Dre Bly - UNC CB

Bly and UNC recently “parted ways” due to lack of on field success from his position group, but he’s a proven ace recruiter in ACC territory which could pay dividends. He played his college ball at UNC and returned to coach after more than a decade in the NFL.


Hell, Bronco Mendenhall coached under Rocky Long from 1998-2002 at New Mexico before heading to BYU for the next 13 seasons. Maybe we make a call there?

At this point it’s all a bit of a crapshoot and we don’t know who, what or how any of these calls are being made, but it’s always fun to speculate, right?