The only head coach in the history of football at Monmouth, Kevin Callahan has developed a winning tradition in West Long Branch. Callahan, whose 135 wins is 13th among active coaches at the FCS level, has guided a once fledgling program that didn’t offer scholarships to the Big South Conference.
Beginning his 25th season at the helm of the Hawks, Callahan has amassed a 135-114 record while his teams have captured five conference titles. Along the way, Monmouth has been ranked among the top 20 in total offense on two occasions and in total defense five times. Meanwhile, over 125 players have earned conference recognition, while numerous Hawks have earned regional and national honors. Regarded as an outstanding coach by his peers, Callahan served as the President of the FCS Football Coaches Committee in 2007-08 and served a 10 year term as a member of the committee. Under his watch, six former Hawks have earned spots on NFL rosters, including Super Bowl Champion Chris Hogan and Miles Austin who was an All-Pro wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys.
Academically, Callahan’s squads have consistently performed at a high level. Nine players have been named to the prestigious FCS ADA Academic All-Star team (average of 55 FCS players selected per season) a total 12 times. Monmouth has had at least one representative on the Capital One Academic All-District Team in 15 of the last 16 seasons, including three-time selection Joe Johnson who was also a two-time Big South All-Academic Team member. Monmouth has ranked second among Big South schools in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) in each of the last two seasons that data has been available. While a member of the Northeast Conference, Monmouth averaged 20 players per year on the Academic Honor Roll (greater than a 3.2 cumulative gpa), and owned the highest team grade point average in two of its final three seasons in the league.
The 2017 season is a rebirth of sorts for the program as a new 16 million dollar stadium will be constructed by the home opener against Lafayette in September. The season will also mark the 25th season of Monmouth Football and the program’s fourth in the Big South Conference. The 2016 season saw the Hawks jump out to a hot start, going 4-2 but struggled through conference play, despite holding halftime leads in four of the final five contests. The Hawks boasted five all-conference selections, including First Team All-Big South honors for safety Mike Basile and wide receiver Reggie White Jr. Basile, who led the team in tackles for the third straight season, became the program’s first unanimous Second Team All-American.
The 2015 campaign set a number of firsts for the program, including the Hawks first game against an Football Bowl Subdivision opponent and its first win over a ranked opponent. Callahan and the Blue & White tripled its conference win total in just its second year in the Big South, finishing with a 3-3 record and a third place conference finish. On October 17 Monmouth upset conference foe and No. 22 ranked Liberty 20-17 in overtime, giving the program its first win over a ranked opponent. One week later the Hawks would host top-ranked Coastal Carolina, falling to the Chanticleers on a last second field goal. In all, Monmouth faced a ranked opponent in four of its 11 games in 2015 while also playing Central Michigan on September first in MU's first contest against an FBS squad. Seven Hawks earned All-Big South Honors while sophomore Mike Basile was named All-Big South and All-ECAC Second Team. Academically, Joe Johnson earned Academic All-District II and was named to the Big South Academic All-Star Team for the second consecutive year.
Callahan led the Hawks to a 6-5 record in 2014, including the programs first Big South Conference win on November 22, 2014 against Gardner-Webb. Six student-athletes earned All-Big South honors, including freshman safety Mike Basile and senior wide receiver Neal Sterling being named First Team. Basile was also named Big South Rookie of the Year, while running back Lavon Chaney became the first newcomer to lead the league in all-purpose yards in six years.Off the field Joe Johnson was named to both the Big South and Capitol One All-District II Academic teams.
In 2013, Monmouth's first season as an independent since the 1995 season, the Hawks faced their most daunting schedule. Playing a 12-game regular season for the first time in program history, the Hawks opened with No. 2 Montana State- the highest ranked opponent that MU had faced at that point. The season also saw the Hawks host an Ivy League opponent for the first time, with Monmouth handing Cornell a 48-23 loss on Homecoming. Monmouth also dispatched Holy Cross in their first meeting and defeated former conference rival Wagner during the season. Individually, the Hawks boasted the only running back tandem in the FCS with two 1,000-yard seasons. Additionally, junior quarterback Brandon Hill threw for the second most yardage and touchdowns in school history. Redshirt freshman Darnell Leslie registered the most sacks in a season since the 2003 season. Academically, a team-record four players earned a spot on the Capital One Academic All-District team and Monmouth had a FCS NACDA Academic All-Star for the third straight season.
The 2012 campaign saw the Hawks defeat a Colonial Athletic Association team for the second straight season with a 41-6 rout of The University of Rhode Island. Individually, quarterback Kyle Frazier finished his career by rewriting many single season Monmouth records while six Hawks earned all-conference honors. Once again the Hawks were impressive in the classroom, with the team registering an overall grade point average of 2.99 and 15 Hawks earning NEC Academic Honor Roll. Five players made it to the commissioner’s honor roll, while three Hawks earned a spot on the Capital One Academic All-District team, the 13th consecutive season MU was represented on the list.
In 2011 the Hawks posted a undefeated record on the road for just the third time in program history, going a perfect 5-0. On September 17th, the Hawks knocked off 2012 NCAA Semifinalist Villanova, 20-9 for one of the marquee wins in the program's short history. MU had five players on the All-NEC Teams, including wide receiver Neal Sterling who was named NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Hawks also boasted a pair of finalists for Jerry Rice Award, given to the nation's top FCS freshman. MU was the only team with more than one player named as a finalist. Senior captain Jose Gumbs, a three-time all-league selection, capped off his stellar career by being named Third Team All-America while finishing third all-time in tackles. Academically, 22 players earned Dean's List Honors while 27 members of the team were named to the NEC Academic Honor Roll.
Five Hawks earned All-Northeast Conference honors in 2010 the Hawks were four points away from posting seven wins, with four one-point losses. Off the field Callahan's team had the best grade point average among all the Northeast Conference football squads while a member of the Hawks earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for the 11th straight season. Six different players earned a spot on the All-NEC teams, including offensive guard Shawn Wright's fourth consecutive honor.
On Oct. 31, 2009, Callahan and the Monmouth program reached another milestone as the Hawks recorded the 100th win in program history with a win over Bryant University at Kessler Field. Defensive back Jose Gumbs earned Northeast Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a redshirt sophomore; while five other Hawks earn spots on NEC All-Conference teams. David Sinisi ended his career by breaking over 30 school records, while becoming the NEC all-time leader in scoring and rushing yards. The two-time Walter Payton Award candidate led all active Division I football players (FBS and FCS) in scoring and led all active FCS players in yards rushing, rushing yards per game and rushing touchdowns. Academically, 22 Hawks were named to the NEC Academic Honor Roll and Jon Stolarz and Andrew Musick were two of just 53 FCS players named to the NACDA Academic All-Star Team.
Callahan led the Hawks to their 10th winning season in 2008, finishing with a 7-4 overall record and a 6-1 NEC mark. Monmouth started the season with three straight losses, including losing to the CAA's Rhode Island and NCAA playoff team Maine by a total of seven points, but rallied to win seven of its final eight games. In conference play, the Hawks outscored their opponents 210-134, losing only to eventual league champion Albany. Monmouth's first victory of the season, a 30-17 win over Bryant on Sept. 20, was also a milestone for Callahan, who tallied his 90th career coaching win. MU earned three major conference awards for the first time in program history, with Sinisi (then a junior) earning Offensive Player of the Year after finishing second in the NCAA in rushing. Sinisi, who ended the season tied for first among all FCS players in scoring, was one of 16 players in the nation named to the Walter Payton Award watch list. Gumbs was named Defensive Rookie of the Year while nine total Hawks earned All-NEC honors. In the classroom, Kevin Walsh, the Defensive Player of the Year, and center Andrew Musick, were named to ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District II team for the second straight year.
The 2007 season found the Hawks facing one of their toughest schedules, including a road contest against Delaware, who went on to the FCS National Championship game. Callahan's squad lost half of its starters from 2006's NEC Championship team but armed with a load of young talent, the Hawks won three of their last four games and had 10 athletes recognized as all-conference performers. Callahan's squad boasted the top passing attack in the NEC, while Monmouth's turnover margin of +12 was 12th in all of the Football Championship Subdivision. Monmouth's defense, complete with nine new starters, allowed the fewest first downs among conference members. Off the field, Callahan had 16 student athletes named to the NEC Fall Academic Honor Roll. Two of those players, juniors Kevin Walsh and Andrew Musick, were named to ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District II, with Walsh being one of 54 players nationally named to the NACDA Division I Academic All-Star Team.
In 2006, Callahan led the Hawks to their first ever outright Northeast Conference Championship, their third in four years. Monmouth finished the season going 10-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play, earning a bid to play in the first ever Gridiron Classic, which was held at Kessler Field. The Blue & White defense finished first in Division I-AA in scoring defense, allowing just 12.67 points per game. A number of Hawks earned individual awards in 2006, with three players being named to the Sports Network Mid-Major All-America teams and three players named All-East Region from Don Hansen's football Gazette. Callahan also earned his third NEC Coach of the Year award, as the Hawks placed 11 players on the All-Conference teams. He was inducted to the Jersey Shore Hall of Fame after the 2006 season.
Coach Callahan's squads also excelled in 2003 and 2004. In 2004, the Hawks won their first-ever I-AA Mid-Major National Championship as they were award The Sports Network Cup following a 10-1 campaign. The 2004 season also brought MU their second consecutive NEC title and the fourth in the program's history with a 6-1 mark in league action.
In 2003, Callahan led the Blue and White to its first-ever post-season action, a 12-10 loss to Duquesne in the ECAC Football Classic. Along the way, he coached Monmouth to the best start in school history (8-0) and the most wins in school annals (10-2). With the success, which included a share of the school's third league title, Callahan was named the NEC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career. He was also named Coach of the Year by the New Jersey Sports Writers Association.
In 1998, Callahan was first recognized for his coaching excellence as he was tabbed the NEC Coach of the Year after leading the Hawks to their second NEC championship in three years. The team established over 30 new school records that season and featured one of the top offenses and defenses in Division I-AA.
Prior to accepting the head coaching position at Monmouth in August of 1992, Callahan served as assistant coach at Colgate University for eight seasons. While with the Raiders, Callahan served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, while tutoring the linebackers and secondary. He also coordinated recruiting efforts for Colgate.
Callahan coached 11 All-Patriot League players as the Raiders' defensive coordinator. Colgate allowed just 111.9 rushing yards per game in 1987 to rank ninth in the country. In 1990, CU was among the nation's leaders in total defense and set a team record for fewest total yards allowed in an 11-game season.
Callahan groomed his defensive coordinating skills at Wagner College from 1981 to 1983. During his three seasons with the Seahawks, Callahan served as defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator. In his three seasons at the Staten Island school, the Seahawks compiled a 25-4-2 record and were ranked in the top 10 in Division III each of his three seasons. In 1983, Wagner reached the quarterfinals of the Division III playoffs.
In 1980, Callahan served as an assistant coach under Frank Maloney at Syracuse University. He served as the assistant offensive backfield coach for the Orangemen.
A native of Elmira, N.Y., Callahan began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for three seasons at the University of Albany from 1977 to 1979. In 1977 he served as the Great Danes' offensive backfield coach as they advanced to the semifinals of the Division III playoffs. In 1978 and 1979, Callahan served as outside linebackers coach.
Callahan was a two-year standout on the playing field at the University of Rochester. He roamed the Yellowjackets' defensive backfield from 1975 to 1976. He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Rochester in 1977.
Callahan and his wife, Ann Marie, reside in Spring Lake Heights. They have two children, Kevin Jr. who is an offensive assistant at Columbia University and Julia.
CAREER COACHING RECORDS:
[OVERALL/ CONFERENCE RECORD}
Monmouth Joins the Northeast Conference
1996: 7-3 / 3-1 (1st)
1997: 5-4 / 3-1 (2nd)
1998: 5-5 / 4-1 (1st)
1999: 2-8 / 2-5 (6th)
2000: 5-6 / 4-4 (5th)
2001: 7-3 / 5-2 (3rd)
2002: 2-8 / 2-5 (6th)
2003: 10-2 / 6-1 (1st)
2004: 10-1 / 6-1 (1st)
2005: 6-4 / 4-3 (3rd)
2006: 10-2/6-1 (1st)
2007: 4-6/3-3 (3rd)
2008: 7-4/6-1 (2nd)
2009: 5-6/4-4 (5th)
2010: 3-8/3-5 (6th)
2011: 5-6/4-4 (4th)
2012: 5-5/4-3 (3rd) 69-45 Northeast Conference Record
2013: 6-6 (Independent)
Monmouth Joins the Big South Conference
2014: 6-5/1-4 (4th in the Big South)
2015: 5-6/3-3 (3rd)
2016: 4-7/0-5 (6th)
TOTALS: 135-115 / 73-58 (Conference Record)