Randy McFarlin was pushed out of Whitehouse after building the Wildcats into one of the top programs in East Texas.
The coach's new task: help Coby Gipson rebuild Bishop Gorman.
The Crusaders hired McFarlin on Thursday to be defensive coordinator for the TAPPS Division II school.
McFarlin was told last spring that his contract in Whitehouse would not be renewed past the 2012-13 school year. He was told the school wanted to go in a different direction, despite the fact the Wildcats hired offensive coordinator Adam Cook.
"I'll be honest, it hurts; it's a dagger in the back, so to speak," McFarlin said of Whitehouse replacing him with an assistant. "You've gotta move on. In my thinking God wanted me somewhere else. God moved me to here. But it was quite a hurtful thing that occurred to my family there in Whitehouse."
McFarlin went 59-43 in nine years as head coach at Whitehouse, making seven straight playoff appearances. The Wildcats were 10-2 last year; the Crusaders went 2-8 in Gipson's first season as a head coach.
"His character, his knowledge, his experience is just something that's going to be a great impact in our program," Gipson said. "The whole program in general, from where to order shoulder pads, just everything that you could help a young coach with he will help me with and I'll lean on him immensely."
Gorman athletic director Jeff Smith began conversations with McFarlin in December about joining the staff as an assistant. Eventually McFarlin came around to the idea.
"As spring rolls along, kind of gotta let things fall in place," said McFarlin, who worked with Gipson at the FCA all-star game two years ago. "It was a job that I love to do; I love coaching defense. I'm excited to be here and help build the program that Coby's already got rolling."
Added Smith: "We use the term ‘It's a God thing' a lot — maybe overuse it — but for us to be announcing Randy McFarlin today I truly believe is a God thing, because it makes no sense for anybody else."
Gorman went 7-6 and reached the state semifinals in 2010, but the Crusaders haven't finished more than one game above .500 since 2001 and haven't won 10 games in a season since the 1995 squad went 12-1 and won a state title.
Smith hired Gipson off Mike Maddox's staff at Grace Community last summer. Gipson's offense put up 423.1 yards of offense per game, but the Crusaders struggled to convert the yardage into wins.
"He's a great offensive-mind coach and he needed some help to come in here and work the defense," McFarlin said.
McFarlin said he hasn't followed TAPPS football but will quickly get up to speed on the offenses he'll be tasked with stopping next fall.
"In our district to compete we have to defend the triple option, we have to defend the spread and we have to defend the I-formation," Gipson said. "He in his career has had experience with every type of offense you could imagine. He's seen it, he's stopped it.
"Every facet of coaching he's done and he's been successful in and that's the kind of experience we need."
McFarlin replaces former defensive coordinator Ronnie Melton, whose future is still up in the air, either at Gorman or elsewhere. Melton had been commuting from Atlanta.
After running a 4-2-5 defense in Whitehouse, McFarlin said he'll implement a 3-4 at Gorman, working closely with Gipson to complement the offense.
McFarlin and Gipson will also work together for their top priority: helping the students grow.
"Coach Gipson's philosophy is mine: it's not about winning and losing," McFarlin said. "We tend to the character of these young men and we teach them through the game of football how to work hard, how to be men of integrity, men of character; that's what we use the game for.
"That is what coach Gipson has at Gorman and that's what I want to be a part of."
Faith plays a large role in that for both McFarlin and Gipson. Coaching at a Catholic school in TAPPS, both are open to express their beliefs.
"We both have a deep religious faith," Gipson said. "We both feel the need to share and the desire to share and he's free to do that here."
Such a factor contributed to McFarlin's decision to coach at Gorman.
"Contrary to a lot of popular belief I expressed my faith in Whitehouse quite a bit," McFarlin said. "That was one of the first questions I asked here with Jeff was how open are we to just talk to the kids about our faith. He says, ‘Coach, you've got full freedom to it.' That was another plus for me to come here."
McFarlin said other reasons that led him to the Crusaders were that his wife, Carolyn, could keep her job in Tyler and that he had the itch to get back into coaching.
"I'm just excited and anxious to get to work with the kids," he said. "I've had a couple months off, kind of not doing a whole lot and it's kind of boring. Kind of go a little stir crazy. But I'm excited about getting to work."