It remains to be seen if Brian McNamee will be a successful head football coach.
But there is no doubt he is a brave one.
McNamee will be filling some huge shoes as he takes over as football head coach at Salem High School.
McNamee was hired as football head coach by a 6-0 vote of the Salem Board of Education during the board's regular meeting last week.
He replaces Bill Schuchardt, who retired after a 32-year stint with the Salem Tigers.
"I've talked to several people in the community," McNamee said. "Coach Schuchardt coached here for 32 years. He has a 32-year legacy and anyone who comes in and replaces him is in for a challenge.
"I look forward to the challenge."
It will be the first football head coaching job for McNamee, age 46.
A graduate of Mid-America Nazarene University in Olathe, Kan., McNamee has been teaching and coaching football at Salem since 1999 and has served under Bill Schuchardt as a varsity assistant since 2006. He is also currently the Salem track and field head coach.
No doubt the Schuchardt shadow is large.
During Schuchardt's tenure as Salem head coach the Tigers posted a 255-91 record, won 14 South-Central Association championships, captured 16 district titles, made five state playoff semifinal berths and appeared in two Show-Me Bowl state championship games. Schuchardt is a 2002 inductee into the Missouri Football Coaches Association Hall of fame.
Bill Schuchardt, age 62, resigned his teaching and athletic director duties at Salem High following the 2011-12 school year and in 2012 was solely a coach in the program. He and his wife, Karen, purchased a home and moved to the Destin, Fla. area, returning to Salem during the 2012 football season. They have since returned to Florida and Bill officially retired his football coaching post last month.
Yesterday McNamee was scheduled to meet with the Tiger players in the morning followed by a meeting with the existing coaching staff. He said it's too early to know what his staff will look like next fall.
"There are several coaches we have to hire," McNamee said. "We have to hire an assistant to replace me and we've just added another junior high coach as well. It's still early; we don't have a lot of job postings yet."
McNamee says he expects – and welcomes – continued input from Bill Schuchardt. The past several years Bill Schuchardt's son, Jeff, has been an assistant on the Tiger staff along with McNamee.
"He sends emails; he checks on the track program," McNamee said of Bill. "I work with Jeff on a daily basis and I know Coach Schu follows Salem Athletics closely from Florida. And I'm sure he'll keep his eyes on the Salem football program."
Page 2 of 2 - McNamee will have five starters on each side of the ball back from the Tigers' 2012 squad, which finished 6-4.
"We lost a lot to graduation," McNamee said. "We have five returning starters on offense and defense but we lost a lot of skilled athletes, at quarterback and things like that.
"It's a good time to learn something new."
And there will be something new brought to the Salem football program next fall.
The base offense for Schuchardt during his 32-year Salem tenture was the run-dominated wishbone formation. Next fall McNamee plans to install the spread option formation.
The spread option is a form of the high-octane spread formation that is now used in the majority of high school and collegiate programs. It's a run-first scheme used successfully by former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, among many others.
A misdirection offense, the spread option is a new form of the old triple option but utilizing spread sets, featuring a slot receiver, tailback and dual-threat quarterback.
In many ways its basic concept is similar to what Salem has been running for decades. But expect more Tiger passing.
"We're going to be putting in a spread offense; doing some option spread," McNamee said. "And (this week) we'll be discussing our summer schedule. We will be going to the Sullivan Team Camp on July 26. And we'll get in two weeks of camp some time in June."
The past two years Salem has hosted a summer team camp but will not do so this year.
"I know the game has changed dramatically the last five years," McNamee said. "And kids are so much more athletic now. We have a lot of those type kids – what I call crossover athletes. And we're young and very excited. We've had some positive feedback from kids around school. Several kids who haven't played before say they're going to play this year."