Last month, Morthland College in West Frankfort began an ambitious quest to start an athletic department with six different sports.
On Monday, the Patriots took their first big step.
School president and founder Dr. Tim Morthland introduced former Southern Illinois University head coach Rich Herrin as their first men's basketball coach.
They couldn’t have done much better.
"Coach Herrin is a legend," Morthland said. "He is a person with a lot of experience and influence who we think can take this team forward from its beginning to a winning team and also someone who is committed to the academics of Morthland College."
Herrin is pleased to be coaching again and has big plans for the program.
"I'd like to thank Dr. Morthland and the trustees for giving me this opportunity," Herrin said. "I'm probably the luckiest individual in the world because I've never had to work a day in my life."
"I didn't come here to run a recreation program. I've come here to be successful and to win basketball games. But, I also believe in something other than winning games. I'm going to set a good example and get everybody to go to class.”
“Our players are going to get an education while they are here. We will be a special team."
As far as specifics go, Herrin plans on running a "run and shoot" fast-paced offense where the players are well conditioned and lots of shots are taken. He also emphasized the importance of rebounding.
"If you take a bad shot and you go up and rebound, that won't bother me," Herrin said. "If you take a good shot and stand there and watch, that bothers me. You’ve got to rebound."
Herrin brings a lot of success with him to the job. He is the second-winningest head coach at SIU and he won three Missouri Valley Conference tournaments in a row as well as three straight bids to the NCAA Tournament.
Before success with the Salukis, Herrin led Benton Consolidated High School to four undefeated regular seasons, eight conference championships and three trips to the Elite 8.
Herrin’s previous coaching post was at Marion, where he led the boys’ team until his retirement in 2007.
Morthland College plans on playing most of their games at Max Morris Gymnasium in town and hopes to have a tournament here as well.
Herrin couldn't be more thrilled for the season to start.
"If we can play hard and win games, I think we can create some excitement," Herrin said. "I've got a little energy left and I really want to give these young men a second or third chance to play some ball."