Eastern head coach one of 20 finalists for The Sports Network's Eddie Robinson Award
Twenty candidates, including Eastern Washington University's Beau Baldwin and three former winners, were named this week to the voting list for The Sports Network's Eddie Robinson Award given to the top head coach in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
Besides Baldwin, Eastern quarterback Matt Nichols is a candidate for the Walter Payton Award given to the top player in FCS and junior linebacker J.C. Sherritt is on the voting list for the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player. The winners will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 17, during the 23nd annual Sports Network awards dinner at the Marriott Hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn., the night before the NCAA Division I Football Championship game.
In his second year at EWU, Baldwin has directed the Eagles to an 8-3 record and the school's fourth appearance in the FCS Playoffs in the last six years. He was offensive coordinator for Eastern's playoff berths in 2004 and 2005, and in 2007 when EWU also advanced to the postseason, he was head coach at Central Washington as the Wildcats were 2-1 in the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
In all, this week's game at Stephen F. Austin will be Baldwin's 14th postseason playoff game as a coach, including three appearances in the FCS Playoffs, two in NCAA Division II and two in the NAIA Playoffs. In the previous 13 postseason games, teams he has coached have gone 7-5-1, including the NAIA title in 1995 when Central tied Findlay 21-21 in the championship game.
So far in his two seasons as head coach at Eastern, Baldwin is 14-8 overall and 11-5 in the Big Sky Conference. Including his one season at Central, he is 24-11 in three seasons as a head coach. His entire 16-year coaching career has been spent at either Eastern (six seasons) or Central (10 seasons).
Villanova's Andy Talley, the 1997 Robinson Award winner, is one of three former winners up for this year's award. One of them is Jerry Moore, the coach of the 2005-07 national champion Appalachian State Mountaineers. Pete Lembo of Elon won the 2001 Robinson Award when he was a first-year coach at Lehigh.
Mike London, the coach of the defending national champion Richmond Spiders, is among the seven first-time candidates on the ballot, along with Baldwin, Bob Biggs of UC-Davis, Tom Gilmore of Holy Cross, J.C. Harper of Stephen F. Austin, Jeff McInerney of Central Connecticut State and Jeff Vorris of Butler.
Other candidates include Al Bagnoli of Penn, Henry Frazier III of Prairie View, Bobby Hauck of Montana, Jimmye Laycock of William & Mary, Dale Lennon of Southern Illinois, Buddy Pough of South Carolina State, Danny Rocco of Liberty, Bob Spoo of Eastern Illinois, John Stiegelmeier of South Dakota State and Matt Viator of McNeese State.