Corey Goff has always been a familiar face on the sidelines of all sports at Muhlenberg College. During his tenure at ‘Berg, Goff’s presence has been wide spread; he’s held multiple jobs within the athletics department.
The sidelines of Muhlenberg’s football stadium are where Goff actually started his ‘Berg career as an assistant football coach from 2000 to 2005. He became the offensive coordinator in 2001 and served in that role until 2005. In 2003, Goff took on a second role as the assistant director of athletics, which lasted until 2008. From there, Goff moved from the sidelines to the top step of the dugout. His first season as the head baseball coach for Muhlenberg was in 2007, and his time with the team at Cedar Creek Park lasted until 2012 when he became the full-time director of athletics.
This year, at Scotty Wood Stadium and Frank Marino Field, Goff will be on the sideline for all five home games, which in itself is not out of the norm. But Goff is serving in a brand new role this year. There is a bit of a reunion. It comes with some new equipment, new gear, and a new title. Now on Saturday afternoons, whether the Mules play at home or away, Goff can be seen on the sidelines with a headset on, wearing Muhlenberg Football attire, and performing special assistant/acting head coach duties.
After the unfortunate leukemia diagnosis of Head Coach Mike Donnelly, both he and the team that had been under his reign since 1997 face a mighty fight to beat all of their opponents. Coach Donnelly’s fight started in Buffalo on Aug. 28 for his leukemia treatment. The Mules’ fight started with a big win over Wilkes, and another week two win over Dickinson.
The Muhlenberg coaching staff found themselves needing to fill a temporary vacancy during Donnelly’s departure for treatment. “Most importantly, [Donnelly and I] wanted to find a short-term solution that would allow for seamless transitions on both ends of Coach Donnelly’s time away from the team,” Coach Goff explained about the decision process to take on the role as acting head coach.
The result of the decision process ended with Goff becoming the acting head coach, and the hiring of a new assistant coach and interim defensive coordinator Kory Davis. Adding Davis to the coaching staff is very logical. Davis has been coaching football for over 15 years and was most notably on Andy Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles staff from 2011 to 2013 as a linebackers and special teams assistant. Goff mentions that looking out for the assistant coaches was factored into the thought process for sculpting the 2017 coaching staff. “[Donnelly and I] sought a solution that would allow our assistant coaches to remain focused on their primary responsibilities so we did not weaken the team in other areas,” said Goff. Coach Donnelly was the primary defensive play caller for the Mules in seasons past, thus the prime fit for Davis. The addition will keep responsibilities of the staff in order, ensuring another coach will not have to take on additional responsibilities. “Ultimately, [Donnelly] and I felt this option gave our student athletes the best chance to have a positive experience this fall,” Goff said.
Goff says his transition from one job to two within the Muhlenberg athletics department has been positive so far. “It has gone relatively smoothly,” Goff said. Decisions made for the football program have been joint. Goff and Donnelly communicate and Coach Goff is adamant that “regardless of his physical location, I felt strongly our interim solution should leave no doubt that Mike Donnelly is and will remain Muhlenberg’s head football coach.”
When asked about finding a balance in being committed to both jobs, Goff talked about staying as reachable as possible. After all, his office door in the Life Sports Center is always open. “I serve our student athletes and my colleagues in the athletic department. My goal has been to remain accessible and committed to the larger goals of our department while working with our talented football coaches to ensure the best experience possible for our players,” Goff emphasized.
Goff also acknowledges the importance of others at Berg and also those in his personal life stepping up during this shift which has allowed such a smooth transition. First and foremost, he credits his wife, Lauren. “(She) has essentially taken on the role of sole caregiver for our family from August to November. There is no way I would have been able to take on this load were it not for her selflessness.” Another big credit Goff gave was to The Duke himself. “Despite his medical leave, Donnelly and I talk almost daily about the administration of our football program. He is able to watch film of practice and games then pass along his thoughts and observations to the assistant coaches and I. Mike has been a trusted colleague, mentor and friend for over 15 years. Having frequent, meaningful communication with him during this transition has been invaluable,” said Goff.
“Regardless of his physical location, I felt strongly our interim solution should leave no doubt that Mike Donnelly is and will remain Muhlenberg’s head football coach.”
As far as the ‘Berg football program responding to this season, Goff kept his thoughts simple. “Incredibly well.”Although winning is of utmost importance, Goff doesn’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture the team is experiencing this year. “We have tried to use this as an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of perseverance, the need for others to step up if a family member, co-worker or teammate is down or in need. Whether you are a salesmen, the lead in a musical, the starting shortstop or the head football coach… if one person is unable to perform others need to rise up and do the job,” Goff explained.
The experience that Goff has embarked on is certainly time consuming and stressful, but he also finds it rewarding. “I have really enjoyed the opportunity to work more closely with student athletes on a daily basis. This experience has also reminded me first hand of the emotional investment our coaches of all sports make in the success of their student athletes and their teams,” said Goff.
He also keeps his sense of humor. His favorite part of his 2017 roles? “The view, best seats in the house.”