April 3, 2014
Auburn high school relations director Doug Goodwin is happy to be back where it all began (Lauren Barnard photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – Even as he was establishing himself as one of the top high school coaches in Alabama, Doug Goodwin’s heart was at Auburn. So it had been since he arrived as a freshman from Sylacauga in 1980.
And now he’s back.
“I always kind of had it in the back of my mind that one day I’d like to be here,” Goodwin said. “I loved it right from the start and have loved it ever since. To come back and be a part of it is a dream come true.”
Goodwin walked away from a 29-year coaching career that took him to a state championship and five state championship games. Head coach Gus Malzahn hired him last month as Auburn’s high school relations director.
“I’ve been a head coach in high school for a long time,” Goodwin said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good players and a lot of good teams. I was just really kind of ready to try something different. The way I see that is you kind of get paid to take care of your friends. That’s a pretty good deal.”
When Al Pogue left Auburn for an on-field coaching job at Troy, Malzahn knew quickly where he would look for a replacement.
“Doug is one of the top high school coaches in the state of Alabama,” Malzahn said. “He has a great feel for the Alabama high school coaches. He has great respect, and that’s very important.
Goodwin’s decision wasn’t easy, even after a three-year stint at Homewood High School ended on a sour note despite a 9-3 record and region championship last season.
“It’s different,” Goodwin said. “I can already tell the most difficult part of it is going to be not being able to do anything at practice and things like that. At the same time, relationships are what make football really the great thing that it is. Those relationships with coaches and players are what carry on from year to year. I’ll still be able to do that.”
Goodwin might be the busiest man on Auburn’s staff over the weekend. Hundreds of coaches are in town for Auburn’s annual coaching clinic.
“My job is to be the bridge between the high school coaches and Coach Malzahn,” Goodwin said. “If they have concerns, I think it’s important that I bring it to his attention. We do everything we can do to help them feel like they are part of the program, and they are an important part of the program. Their role is vital to our success.”
Growing up in Sylacauga, Goodwin played football, baseball and basketball. He ran track. When he arrived at Auburn, he walked on to the football team as a defensive back. Even then, he knew he wanted to coach.
“I don’t ever remember wanting to do anything else,” Goodwin said. “It was a natural progression for me. I used to have people trying to get me to go back to school and be an administrator. None of that stuff ever interested me.”
Injuries cut Goodwin's Auburn football career short, and he married his wife, Donna, after his sophomore year. His playing career over, he volunteered for high school programs until he graduated.
Even as Goodwin established big-winning programs at Demopolis, Lineville, Russellville and Homewood, Auburn was still part of his family’s life. His son, Dusty, was Auburn’s No. 3 quarterback as a walk-on in 2004. Dusty finished his career at UNA and coaches now at Homewood.
Goodwin doesn’t rule out returning to coaching, but he says he didn’t take the job as a stepping stone to an on-field job.
“Right now, I’m just going to concentrate on doing the best I can in this position,” Goodwin said. “You never know what the Good Lord has in store for you. We’ll cross those bridges when they come.”
Goodwin watched with pride as Auburn, in Malzahn’s first season, won the 2013 Southeastern Conference championship and came within seconds of the national championship. Once he was a part of it, he says, he understood why there was near instant success.
“I think the staff is great,” Goodwin said. “Coach sets the tone. I think his priorities are in order, and that’s where it all starts. The assistant coaches and the guys off the field are all good people. I think they all have the best interests of the program at heart. I don’t think there are a lot of hidden agendas here. I think everybody is doing their best for the betterment of Auburn.”
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: