Eastern Washington’s Baldwin resigns to become Cal assistant
(STATS) – Too much success can become a bad thing for an FCS program because inevitably an FBS school with deeper pockets can come calling.
FCS power Eastern Washington found itself in the market for a new head coach Monday after Beau Baldwin resigned following nine seasons to become the offensive coordinator at Cal under new coach Justin Wilcox.
Eastern won the 2010 FCS national title and went 85-32 with five Big Sky titles (58-14 conference record) under the 44-year-old Baldwin. The Eagles never failed to have a winning record under him and he was just four wins shy of Dick Zornes’ school record set from 1979-93.
After winning the national title, Baldwin led the Eagles to the national semifinals three more times, including this past season while they finished 12-2 and with a No. 4 national ranking.
“I want it to be hard (to leave EWU),” Baldwin said at a news conference on campus, “because that means the place you’re at means something to you if it’s hard. But as hard as it, this one’s right. It’s an incredible opportunity, an incredible opportunity for family, an incredible opportunity for career.”
Eastern assistants Aaron Best and Jeff Schmedding will serve as co-interim head coaches while athletic director Bill Chaves seeks Baldwin’s successor.
“I think life is about opportunity,” Chaves said. “I tend to always think ‘glass half full’ and what can be next. And I think that’s how we need to attack every day. And that’s how we’ll attack this.”
Last month, Baldwin signed a new five-year contract at Eastern with a base salary of $240,000 and $10,000 increments through 2021 as well as incentives. The deal, which made Baldwin the second-highest paid coach in the Big Sky behind new UC Davis mentor Dan Hawkins, didn’t have a buyout clause.
Cal can reportedly double Baldwin’s salary. The Pac-12 program was 5-7 this past season.
“This place (Eastern) is much bigger than any one person,” Baldwin said. “Always has been and always will be. I know these guys will continue to roll. And that excites me.”
Eastern’s offense consistently ranked among the national leaders under Baldwin. While Baldwin was an assistant coach, quarterback Erik Meyer won the 2005 Payton Award. As head coach, he developed signal callers such as Matt Nichols, 2011 Walter Payton Award winner Bo Levi Mitchell, Vernon Adams Jr. and Gage Gubrud.
Also under his tutelage, Cooper Kupp – the 2015 Payton recipient – set the NCAA Division I career records for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.
“There’s been so many incredible young men that have come through this program that helped me to this point,” Baldwin said. “That’s why things like this are extremely tough.”
Over the last 23 years, Baldwin has had two different coaching stints as an assistant or head coach at either Eastern Washington or Division II Central Washington, his alma mater. He was Central’s head coach in 2007, posting a 10-3 record.