The Barak Faulk era of Monroe High School football is over before it truly began.
Faulk, who was announced as the new head coach in January in the wake of Bill Leach’s resignation, recently stepped down and has been replaced by former Hornets head coach Brett Stubbs.
“Just like we talk to our kids about all the time, sometimes things happen. You’ve just got to adapt,” Monroe athletic director Eric Silverman said. “We’ll continue to move forward. We certainly thank Barak for all the time and energy and passion that he’s put in since he came over in January.”
» FROM JANUARY: Faulk thrilled to be home at Monroe
Faulk, a 1991 Monroe graduate who was an assistant during three different stints with the Hornets, said his decision was based on a teaching contract offer that he simply couldn’t accept.
“It happened so quickly,” Faulk said. “I probably got mad and all that stuff, but in the end, it really just broke my heart that I couldn’t be there. It was my life dream.”
Stubbs, who went 13-17 as Monroe’s head coach from 2010 to 2012, coached seventh-grade football in the district last season and also teaches seventh-grade math.
He’s agreed to be the interim head coach for one year, then plans to retire from coaching and teaching.
“I told Eric Silverman that if they didn’t have anybody else in mind or if they didn’t want to go through that process that I would be willing to do it for this year. They took me up on it,” Stubbs said. “I felt really bad for the senior group. I’ve been coaching those kids since they were in pee-wee.”
The Hornets were just 4-16 in the last two seasons under Leach. Faulk was the defensive coordinator and an intervention specialist at Mason and said he would only leave to come to his alma mater.
In January, Faulk was approved by the Monroe school board for the 2018-19 school year. He dove into the football job and loved what he was seeing on a daily basis.
But then it came time to finalize contracts for 2018-19. That’s where his situation changed.
Faulk was offered a teaching position, but he wasn’t going to get full credit for his 17 years in public education. He said that because of “a new law that nobody knew about,” he could only get credit for 10.
“I don’t want to make it all money, but in the end, it’s doing right for my family,” Faulk said. “I believed I was board approved for a teaching position, a coaching position and a weight-room position at a certain giving of my years. That was the very first thing I said in my interview. I can’t come here without my years.
“That’s what I agreed to in January. It was known at the time there wasn’t a teaching position immediately available. I have some writing that says, ‘This is what we’ll offer you as soon as the position opens,’ so in good faith, I thought I’d have the job.
“Five months later, I thought the timetable would go faster. I had to go to some interviews for the teaching job. I went to the second one and was told that none of them knew this law. The new superintendent said, ‘We can’t give him his years,’ so they just flatly said, ‘We’ll give you 10 years, and we know you can’t take it.’
» RELATED: Story, photos & videos from the SWOFCA East-West All-Star Game
“The effect on my retirement was tremendous … I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t like how it all happened. I just felt like I was offered one thing and put in a lot of hard work for five months, and all of a sudden the offer was, ‘You’ll never be able to teach here.’
“I am devastated, but I still live here in Monroe. My wife teaches in the elementary school. So like I told the kids, don’t be angry and don’t say stuff you don’t know about. It’s just something I couldn’t do for my family. I could not take that offer, and that was the only offer they could give me.”
Faulk said he formed a strong bond with the Monroe players.
“I loved them all,” he said. “They’re the ones that are getting hurt in this whole thing … it makes my stomach turn. But I think the kids were genuine when they said they understood. I think they cared for me and appreciated what I had done.”
Faulk has landed on his feet back at Mason. He never resigned there and wasn’t going to give up his teaching position until everything was signed at Monroe, and that turned out to be a wise move.
Mason coach Brian Castner hadn’t yet filled his defensive coordinator position either, so Faulk is back where he was in the school and on the football field.
“It’s the oddest thing in the world how everything has turned out for me in the end, how easily I could’ve resigned from Mason at any point because I was already board approved at Monroe,” said Faulk, whose son Barak has also headed back to Mason to play for the Comets. “I believe in God, and I believe that things work out crazy like this sometimes. I’m in a good place at Mason.”
Silverman said the Hornets’ head coaching position will be posted at the end of the 2018 season, though Stubbs is hopeful that his successor is already on staff.
Stubbs said he doesn’t know how the administration will go about picking the next head coach, but he’ll give offensive coordinator Jason Osterman a lot of responsibility and try to prepare him for that possibility.
“I coached him in high school, and I know he has aspirations of being a head coach,” Stubbs said. “They didn’t feel he was quite ready this year, so maybe one more year of experience and a little more authority will get him ready.”
Stubbs, 54, is a 1982 Lima Senior graduate. He played football at Miami University and has coached at Columbus Independence, Edgewood and Middletown.
“We’re pretty much staying with the Wing-T that they were starting to implement,” said Stubbs, a longtime defensive coordinator who hasn’t made a final decision about who will direct Monroe’s defense. “We’ll probably go back to the 3-3 on defense. That was my thing when we were at Monroe the first time.”
Stubbs coached under Leach and said he moved from the varsity staff to the junior high last year because he was getting closer to retirement and spending more time with his grandchildren. But he said he’s got the energy and focus to be the head coach one more time.
“I’m excited for this group of kids, the school and the community,” Stubbs said. “I think we’re going to change the direction that we’ve been going the past couple years and start something new. We’re going to work as hard as we can and feel good about what we’re doing, and the wins and losses should take care of themselves.”
The Hornets will open the season at home Aug. 24 against Edgewood.