When Robert Matthews' wife got the job as women's golf coach at Oklahoma State, that meant the Gwinnett County native had to leave his post as Shiloh's head football coach.
He went about six months without a job, working as an unpaid assistant for Oklahoma State's football team. Nearly two years later, the 1996 Duluth grad is now part of the Cowboys' football staff as the team's recruiting coordinator.
"It's different," Matthews said. "The thing I miss is I don't get to coach on the grass. I do a lot of the same things off the field with planning and game planning. The only difference is the two to three hours that we're practicing, I'm not coaching a specific position."
Prior to becoming the team's recruiting coordinator Matthews was the coordinator of football operations. He took care of the day-to-day activities of the team, including special projects for head coach Mike Gundy and all the different ins and outs that go into making a team run.
As the recruiting coordinator, which he was just promoted to a few weeks ago, Matthews is in charge of many of the future players that will suit up for Oklahoma State.
"I'll get to be more involved in the information of how we process kids and direct position coaches and coordinators on how to narrow down prospects," Matthews said. "I'll handle all of the official and unofficial visits, gets kids qualified, everything that goes along with recruiting."
Although he has been out of the county since the fall of 2005, Matthews still pays attention to Gwinnett football. He still has friends that coach in Gwinnett and looks online each weekend to see how different teams fared. And as recruiting coordinator he will be paying more attention to the area even though Oklahoma State mostly recruits in Oklahoma and Texas.
Matthews will make a return trip to Georgia on Sept. 1 when Oklahoma State travels to Athens to play Georgia in the season opener.
After graduating from Duluth, Matthews was a three-year player at the University of Georgia from 1996-98, playing on teams that won the Outback Bowl and Peach Bowl. He graduated in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in exercise science and a master's degree in science education.
Matthews served as an assistant coach at Oconee and Camden County under Jeff Herron. He took over as offensive coordinator at North Gwinnett in 2002 before becoming Shiloh's head coach in 2003.
At the age of 25 he was one of the youngest head coaches in county history and instantly had success.
Matthews led the Generals to a 6-5 record and the first round of the playoffs. However, the next two seasons Shiloh suffered back-to-back 2-8 finishes and Matthews departed with a 10-21 career record.
Matthews' contribution to Shiloh was also off the field. He spearheaded an upgrade to the team's facilities, helping build a 10,000-square-foot weight room and renovated the field house with the coaches offices and locker room.
"We upgraded the facilities and gave the kids something that would hopefully boost their level of play," Matthew said.
At Oklahoma State, Matthews is still involved with the X's and O's in the offensive game plan, but still has the itch to be a coach.
"I'd eventually like to get back on the field and, who knows, maybe that opportunity will present itself to me here," Matthews said, "but I really enjoy what I'm doing now."
"Catching up with..." is a series that profiles former Gwinnett County athletes and their lives beyond high school competition. This feature will run throughout the summer. If you have suggestions about former standouts, send them to email@example.com.
SideBar: The Matthews File
' Name: Robert Matthews
' Age: 29
' Education: Graduated from Duluth High School in 1996; graduated from the University of Georgia in 1999 with bachelor's degree in exercise science and a master's degree in science education
' Background: Coached at Oconee and Camden County prior to becoming North Gwinnett's offensive coordinator in 2002. Was hired as Shiloh's head coach in 2003 at the age of 25, becoming one of the youngest coaches in county history. Led the Generals to a 6-5 record and a playoff berth in 2003. Finished with a 10-21 career record as a head coach.
' Family: Wife, Laura