Rick Goodrich has followed football in the Ohio Valley the last few years.
The 1980 Bridgeport High graduate is well aware of the struggles of the John Marshall Monarchs' football program. He actually had a front-row seat the last three years as Goodrich's old team, Cambridge, opened with the Monarchs.
The John Marshall school administration isn't stupid either. It knew, when it began its search for a new coach to replace Bob Triveri, who stepped in after Dan Wilson stepped down in the middle of the season, they needed to think outside the box.
After doing his homework and giving it a lot of thought, Goodrich decided to apply.
"I knew it was coming open and after our season ended, I did a lot of homework on it," Goodrich said. "I really like the challenge of it. I thought this was an opportunity that was too good not to look into."
Knowing jobs like John Marshall - a Class AAA school with a strong history in football - don't come open every season, Goodrich threw his hat into the ring.
When JM Principal Corey Murphy and the rest of the hiring committee began sifting through resumes, Goodrich's stood out.
"Coach Goodrich has had a lot of success in building two other programs into winning programs," Murphy said of the work Goodrich did at both Bridgeport and Cambridge. "We think he can build a winner at JM."
John Marshall is a program which won the state title in 1995 under the late Mike Linsky and has also claimed two OVAC titles in its history.
Goodrich, who will continue to teach at Cambridge and has two-plus years remaining until he qualifies for his Ohio retirement, posted a 78-55 mark at Cambridge and all told owns a 102-73 mark in 17 seasons as a head coach. He led Cambridge to parts unknown when he guided it to three consecutive playoff berths in the challenging Division III, Region 11. He also posted an undefeated regular season in 2006.
"I think what we did at Bridgeport and Cambridge was a big selling point as far as bringing back a dormant program," Goodrich said. "We jumpstarted the program at Bridgeport and there was really never a program started at Cambridge, which we took to some state-wide recognition in a short time."
John Marshall interviewed "multiple candidates," according to Murphy and actually made Goodrich aware of the decision the night of the interviews, but told him he couldn't tell anyone about the decision until the Marshall County Board of Education had formally met.
"That was the longest week of my life because I couldn't say anything," Goodrich said. "I wanted to tell, but I had to keep my mouth shut. It was tough, believe me."
Goodrich didn't pull a Todd Graham when he made his decision to leave Cambridge known. Rather than taking the seemingly trendy route of sending a text message or letting the players know via social media, Goodrich held a meeting with his players Wednesday morning.
"I wanted the kids to hear it the proper way ... from me directly," Goodrich said. "It was tough. It actually killed me because I've been around some of these kids since they were three and four years old."
The Bridgeport High graduate was pleased with the reception his former Bobcat players gave him after the meeting.
"A lot of the kids stuck around afterward and wished me the best," Goodrich said. "They understood the decision and a lot of them told me they were behind me 100 percent. The seniors were grateful that I stuck it out with them."
While Cambridge is left picking up the pieces after Goodrich's resignation, Murphy has already realized the buzz is back at JM.
"We're excited," Murphy said. "The boys are really excited about this opportunity. Mr. (Chuck) Duckworth and I have sat down with Coach Goodrich, and he seems like a great man, so we think he'll put John Marshall back where it needs to be as a consistent winner."
Goodrich was scheduled to meet with his future Monarch players this past Friday and will begin his weight conditioning program during the holiday break for those players not involved in a winter sport.
"From what I can tell, we need to be better conditioned," Goodrich said. "It all starts with the weight room and conditioning. The talent and size is there to produce a winner, but we have to start good habits in the weight room and the get the kids to have that burning desire to succeed."
The administration and players seem pleased, but what about the community? Often times, it's tough for outsiders to come into a new place and receive the ultimate support from the fans.
Again, by leaving no stone unturned when he considered this job, Goodrich thought about that.
"You have to show your new school that you care about them," Goodrich said. "You need to make yourself visible at various events and things throughout the school and community. You have to become one of the community."
As weight lifting begins, Goodrich also has the chore of building a coaching staff, which he hopes to finalize in January.
"I want to sit down and meet with some candidates and make sure they know me expectations and how we'll do things. I want to know if they'll live up to what we need from them time wise and the effort we'll need to make this a successful program."
The most difficult part of the job for Goodrich might have absolutely nothing to do with trying to turn around an 0-10 team or the nearly 60 mile drive after school back to Glen Dale for practice.
It could come week one when Goodrich leads his Monarchs onto the field for the first time and looks over and sees Cambridge on the other sideline.
"I don't even want to think about that right now," Goodrich said. "I am not going to lie, I have actually thought about it, and I don't like it. It's going to tear me up to be trying to beat kids you've seen grow up."
As for the Bobcats' prorgram, we're not sure where they turn.
An email to Cambridge Athletic Director Dave Gray about the future of the program went unreturned this week.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org