The Rise and Fall and Rise of Dan Monson

Long Beach State Dan Monson

The Rise and Fall and Rise of Dan Monson

It is often forgotten how quickly Dan Monson climbed up the coaching ranks. Like every coach, he paid his dues as an assistant, first at UAB for two years and then at Gonzaga for nearly a decade. It was not until Coach Dan Fitzgerald retired in 1997 that Monson took over the Bulldogs. Fitzgerald led the Zags to their first NCAA appearance in 1995, but it was under Monson that Gonzaga really took off…and he was only there for two years as the head coach.

Gonzaga went 24-10 during the 1997-1998 season and was invited to the NIT. The following year was the beginning of the Gonzaga dynasty as we know it today. That was when Gonzaga made their improbable run to the Elite Eight as a ten seed. After that Coach Monson had multiple job offers.

He took the one in Minnesota. That was a tough situation at the time due to some NCAA sanctions held over from the previous coaching regime. All things considered, it was pretty impressive that Monson took the Golden Gophers to the NIT three of his first four seasons in Minneapolis. However, after a tough 2003-2004 season in which the Gophers went 12-18 and won just three Big Ten games, Monson was on the hot seat. The seat cooled off the next year as the Gophers went to the NCAA Tournament for the first, and only, time under Coach Monson. That success was supposed to continue. Yet, it did not and seven games into the 2006-2007 campaign, after a 2-5 start, Monson resigned.

That story has been seen many times before. A head coach has some success at a so-called mid-major, heads off to a big name school, fails to live up to the schools lofty expectations, gets fired and is relegated to assistant coaching duties for the rest of their careers…or end up on television if they have nice hair or happen to be Rick Majerus.

Coach Monson did not follow that path. He did not even take a year or two off. He went right back into coaching and accepted the challenge at Long Beach State. In his first year with the 49ers, the team went 6-25 and won just three conference games. The following year they finished second in the Big West, then they were third. Finally, during the 2010-2011 season, LBSU won the Big West. They failed to get the job done in the Big West Conference Tournament and had to settle for the NIT, but the rebuilding job is done and the 49ers are not going anywhere. In fact, they are the heavy favorites to win the Big West again this year and Coach Dan Monson could be making his third ever trip to the NCAA Tournament…and with his third team.

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