Bill Schuchardt had planned on going to Salem to get his foot in the door as a head coach.
He ended up building his legacy there.
"I was told it was going to be a stepping stone, but it was a foundation," Schuchardt said of his time at Salem.
That time is apparently over, as Schuchardt has resigned as Salem football head coach, ending a record-breaking 32-year run in that position.
Schuchardt, age 62, this week submitted his resignation as coach, pending board approval. The Salem Board of Education is expected to act on his resignation at its next scheduled meeting on Feb. 21.
Meanwhile, an opening for Salem football head coach has been posted for the first time since the first Ronald Reagan administration.
Nicknamed "Schu," Schuchardt has served as Salem head coach since 1981. According to the Missouri State High School Activities Association he has compiled a record of 255-91 in 32 seasons.
During that time the Salem Tigers captured 14 South-Central Association (SCA) championships, 16 district championships, five Final Four appearances and two berths in the Missouri state championship game.
Salem finished runner-up in the Show-Me Bowl's Class 3 Championship Game in both 2000 and 2002. He coached both of his sons, Jeff and Joe, in the Show-Me Bowl.
He is the winningest coach in the history of Salem and SCA football and in 2002 was named to the Missouri Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Schuchardt resigned his duties as teacher and athletic director following the 2011-12 school year, and in 2012 was solely a coach in the program.
Last year he and his wife, Karen, purchased a home and moved to the Destin, Fla. area, where Karen's parents live. The couple returned to Salem during the 2012 football season and have since returned to Florida.
During his time at Salem, Schuchardt used the offensive philosophy he believed in most – the wishbone – and piled up monsterous rushing numbers. Even in recent seasons, when pass-dominated spread offenses have been the rage in both high school and college programs, the Tigers stayed true to the 'Bone.
Over the years Schuchardt had several chances to move on to bigger high school programs. But he stayed put.
"I love the program, the kids, doing games" he said of Salem. "I just like high school football.
"I liked the guys I worked with there, Tom Dillon especially. The community accepted Karen and me. It was a lot of fun. In my 32 years of coaching there I had three parents complain to me. I was in a good situation. And the kids were hard-nosed and fun."
"It's not easy for him," said Superintendent of Salem Schools Steve Carvajal said of Schuchardt leaving Salem.
Page 2 of 2 - "I think he still wants to coach. I my opinion he's a living legend. He's absolutely a class act. And it will not be easy to replace him. Whoever replaces him will face some very unreal expectations."
Carvajal said there is a scenario that could have Schuchardt serve one more season as Salem head coach. Because Schuchardt was employed solely as a football coach this school year, there currently is no teaching position open to place a potential new football head coach in.
Carvajal said Schuchardt is willing to coach another year if a suitable replacement is not found. He said he isn't sure if the current Salem football assistant coaches will want to return next season, or if any of them are interested in the head coaching job.
"I hope (they all come back)," Carvajal said of the assistants. "But it's too early."
Both of Schuchardt's sons are assistant coaches in the area – Jeff coaching with his father at Salem and Joe in Rolla. In the past neither have expressed interest in succeeding their dad as head coach at Salem. "You'd have to ask Joe and Jeff that," Bill said.
Schuchardt said he'll keep future coaching options open and admits it will be difficult leaving the sidelines for good.
"I don't know; the spread offense is pretty complicated for me but I'm learning it," he joked. "I think there will be some opportunities (in Florida) at some small schools.
"It's tough organizing my time. All my life has been in football. Now it's not part of my routine. It's different. I've talked to a lot of people about this. I've still got the competitive drive."
A 1972 honors graduate at Missouri Valley College, Schuchardt was a four-year starter there for head coach Ken Gibler, playing offensive guard his first two years before moving to defense for his final two seasons. In the 1971 Mineral Water Bowl Schuchardt was named the game's outstanding tackler. He was on the Missouri Valley squad that had the the distinction of winning the last MCAU championship and the first HAAC championship.
Schuchardt later earned his Master's Degree from Indiana State and began his coaching career as an assistant football and head track coach at St. Mary's High School in St. Louis.
He was named to the Missouri Valley College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.