When Scott Goolsby left Geneva for Auburn High in 2013, he took a chance by joining an Auburn program with no varsity coaching vacancies and was instead coaching the ninth-grade squad. That move has already paid dividends for Goolsby and his family, and last week it culminated in a considerable move up.
Goolsby has been named the Tigers’ defensive coordinator after coaching the varsity linebackers the last six years. He replaces Patrick Plott, who resigned in March after six seasons to become the head coach at Carroll.
“First all, just to coach at Auburn High School period means a lot to me. Just to live in a town like Auburn and to be able to coach there period is an honor and a privilege to me. Then to get a chance to be the coordinator is really exciting,” Goolsby said. “When I left (Geneva), I was just looking for a place where I could be successful at football and was a great place for my family to live. I had a couple different options. My family prayed about it really, really hard, and we ended up in Auburn.
“I just kind of gambled and thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to come in here and coach whatever they have and just work hard. Hopefully God will take care of me.’ He has.”
Goolsby arrived in Auburn after spending five seasons at Geneva as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Prior to his run at Geneva, he coached at Charles Henderson from 2000 to 2007 as defensive ends and outside linebackers coach under head coach under Hugh Fountain, who was Goolsby’s high school coach.
Goolsby’s time at Charles Henderson began after he graduated from Auburn University in 2000.
Goolsby’s familiarity with Auburn’s players and the defensive scheme that has made them so successful was part of what convinced Tigers head coach Adam Winegarden he was the right man for the job.
“Scott’s a fantastic person and a great family man. I think he’s a guy that provides a great example for our players of who to be as young men, first and foremost,” Winegarden said. “One big thing was obviously we didn’t want to change schematically what we’ve been doing on defense. Our kids and our coaches feel very comfortable with what we’re doing on defense. Scott has great knowledge of our current scheme. Not only that, but he’s a great fit within our staff. They all work really well together and respect each other. He also has the respect of our players.”
Goolsby takes over a defense that was consistently outstanding during Plott’s tenure as defensive coordinator, and 2019 was no exception. Auburn’s defense tormented some of the top offenses in the state on a regular basis, and by the season’s end the unit had only surrendered 15.3 points per game.
The defense’s most impressive performances were arguably in the Tigers’ first two playoff games, as the team posted consecutive shutouts — including in a 26-0 road victory over previously undefeated McGill-Toolen.
The Auburn defense has barely missed a beat year after year despite graduating players and having to work in new lineups. In Goolsby’s opinion, that consistency is a product of the talent within the program as well as the top-tier coaches on the sidelines.
“We’ve had really good players. They’ve bought into the culture that coach Plott created here in terms of expecting them to give us their absolute best all the time and holding them to that standard. We’re expecting them to play really relentlessly out there on the field,” Goolsby said. “We’ve got good coaches on staff. Any of those guys could have been the coordinator; I just got chosen for the role. Letting those guys coach and letting those players play has probably been the biggest two reasons (for our success).”
Goolsby and the other Auburn coaches are like so many other staffs across the nation who are doing their best to navigate the coronavirus pandemic in preparation for the 2020 season. Although this offseason is unlike any before it, Goolsby said the standard will not change as the Tigers look to continue their trend of producing one of the state’s top defenses.
“We’ve told them that the expectations aren’t going to change,” Goolsby said. “We’re still going to expect them to give us every single thing they’ve got in practice, meetings, walk-throughs and games. We’re still going to expect them to play relentless, fast and physical. I think us as coaches giving them a process to do that is what’s going to help continue that.”