|College:||Central Washington '96|
Head Coach Beau Baldwin (Fifth Season at EWU • 33-16)
• Eastern led the NCAA Football Championships Subdivision in passing offense in 2012, averaging 368.5 yards per game. In his four years as Eastern’s head coach, the Eagles have ranked in the top 10 in FCS in passing offense three times and total offense twice. In EWU’s last eight seasons (1994-2011), including seven with Baldwin on the coaching staff, EWU has ranked in the top 10 in passing six times and total offense on five occasions.
• After guiding Eastern to the 2010 NCAA Division I Championship, Baldwin was honored nationally as the College Sporting News Coach of the Year and the American Football Monthly Coach of the Year. He was also honored regionally by the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) as Coach of the Year. In addition, Baldwin was a Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year finalist, as well as for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award presented by The Sports Network.
• Now in his 19th season as a coach, his previous 18 seasons included 10 at Central Washington University and eight at Eastern Washington University. He also played quarterback for four seasons at CWU.
• Has coached on teams that have won two national titles (NCAA Division I in 2010; NAIA in 1995) and six conference championships (Big Sky Conference in 2004, 2005 and 2010; Great Northwest Athletic Conference in 2002; Columbia Football Association in 2000 and 1998).
• Has coached in 18 postseason playoff games (record of 11-6-1), including four appearances in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs (record of 5-3), two appearances in the NCAA Division II Playoffs (record of 2-2) and two appearances in the NAIA Playoffs (record of 4-1-1).
• Received bachelor’s degree from Central Washington University in 1996.
• He is formerly from Tacoma, Wash., and graduated from Curtis High School in 1990. His wife Nicole is from Spokane, Wash., and is a 2001 graduate of Eastern. They have two daughters – Mia Janae (7) and Macie Patricia (5).
Beau Baldwin found out in the 2011 season how precious titles – let alone playoff appearances – can be in the world of collegiate athletics.
A year after directing the Eastern Washington University football program to the 2010 NCAA Division I title, his 2011 squad was ravaged by injuries and missed the playoffs despite six victories in the last seven games of the season. And it was a rare miss for Baldwin and the Eagles -- Eastern is one of only seven schools (of 120 playing FCS football) to have made the playoffs at least five times in the past eight years (2004-11).
Ever since his high school days when his Curtis High School team in Tacoma, Wash., won the State AAA title, Baldwin has been a part of playoff runs at three collegiate levels – NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, NCAA Division II and NAIA. His 18-season collegiate coaching résumé – all at Eastern Washington or Central Washington – includes two national championships, six conference championships and an 11-6-1 record in eight postseason playoff appearances.
Baldwin enters his sixth season as head coach at Eastern with a 33-16 (.667) win-loss record, going 6-5 in 2011, 13-2 in 2010 and 8-4 in 2009 after a 6-5 debut season in 2008. In 2007, as head coach at Central Washington, Baldwin was 10-3, giving him a 43-19 (.694) head coaching record in six seasons. He is 29-11 (.725) in league games as a head coach, including a 23-9 (.719) mark in three seasons as head coach in the Big Sky Conference.
Four of his six seasons as head coach – and two more at Eastern as an assistant – have ended with playoff berths. He had four more berths as a young assistant at Central Washington, including the 1995 NAIA title.
Although Eastern fell short in making the playoffs, a 6-5 finish was an incredible coaching job in its own right. Facing an extremely difficult early-season schedule, the Eagles opened the season by nearly defeating Washington of the Pac-12 Conference before falling 30-27. That performance actually solidified Eastern as the No. 1-ranked team in FCS.
But injuries began to pile up – a total of 14 starters (seven on each side of the ball) suffered injuries that kept them out of the lineup, including seven lost for the season. However, the Eagles responded from the injuries and a 0-4 start to win six of their last seven games and narrowly miss the playoffs. Showing its consistency, in 2011 Eastern had its 14th winning season in the last 16 years (1996-2011).
A year earlier, Baldwin took a perennial playoff participant and honed it into a national champion. Ironically, many observers didn’t even have EWU ranked as a top 25 team before the 2010 season began, but the Eagles finished both the regular season and playoffs ranked No. 1.
The 2010 season had a storybook ending for Baldwin after the Eagles finished 13-2 and won the NCAA Division I Championship with a 20-19 come-from-behind victory over Delaware in the title game on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.
“I’m so happy for all the players in our program, and especially happy for the seniors, because you knew no matter what, it was going to be their last college football game,” Baldwin said of the fantastic finish. “And with the hard work they’ve put in, they deserve to go out as champions, because they work like that. That’s the character they have. And it was fun to watch those guys.”
The Eagles won their final 11 games of the 2010 season, and finished with a 7-1 Big Sky Conference record to win their fifth Big Sky title all-time and third in seven seasons. Eastern made its fifth appearance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs since 2004.
“In that type of ballgame against an incredibly talented and great Delaware team, it came down to those guys on the field,” said Baldwin of his squad, which included just two senior starters on offense and four more on defense. “Those guys just never quit fighting.”
Thousands of Eastern fans were on hand for the title game in Frisco, Texas, and thousands more watched via a national broadcast on ESPN2.
“Winning the championship means a ton for Eastern Washington University as a whole, and it means a lot for the community of Cheney, the City of Spokane, and so many supporters,” Baldwin explained. “And it means a lot to a lot of people that were in Frisco supporting us. It was so electrifying to drive into the parking lot at the stadium and see all our fans all in red tailgating and having fun. That gave us energy and gave us a spark, and it was exciting to see. I just want to thank everyone for that support, because like I said, it’s huge, and there are so many people that have allowed us to be in this position.”
As a result, Baldwin was honored nationally as the College Sporting News Coach of the Year and the American Football Monthly Coach of the Year. He was also a Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year finalist, as well as for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award presented by The Sports Network.
He was also honored regionally by the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS) as Coach of the Year. Baldwin is only the fifth Eastern coach to be recognized in the more than 60-year history of the awards, which were first presented in 1948. Previous Eastern coaches honored were football coaches Dave Holmes (1967) and Dick Zornes (1992), as well as wrestling coach Curt Byrnes (1977) and basketball coach Ray Giacoletti (2004).
The Eagles were selected as the “Sports Story of the Year” at the prestigious 77th Annual Sports Star of the Year presented by Root Sports in Seattle, Wash. The team was also honored by SWABS as Team of the Year, marking only the second time an Eastern team has been honored since the awards were first presented in 1948. The 1967 football team, which was the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) runner-up that season, was the only other team to be honored.
And besides the awards and many speaking engagements that came as a result of the title, Baldwin was given the opportunity on April 9, 2011, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for his favorite boyhood baseball team, the Seattle Mariners. A three-year letter winner as a baseball player and a quarterback in high school, Baldwin threw a perfect strike at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash.
Baldwin has coached four national players of the year at the FCS level – all since 2005 – as presented by The Sports Network. Most recently, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award, which is presented to the top offensive player. Erik Meyer won the same award in 2005. Defensive end Greg Peach (2008) and J.C. Sherritt (2010) won the Buck Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player.
Baldwin graduated in 1990 from Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash. He earned three letters in football and three in baseball and helped lead Curtis to the 1989 State AAA title in football along with his fellow EWU coach Brian Strandley and former EWU coach Torey Hunter. Eastern offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Aaron Best is a 1996 graduate of Curtis.
Baldwin was born May 21, 1972, in Santa Barbara, Calif. His father, Ken, introduced Beau and his younger brother, Joe, to the sports of baseball, basketball and football. When Beau was in the sixth grade, Ken died of a heart attack at the age of 37, leaving their mother, Pat, to raise the two young boys.
Baldwin and his wife, Nicole, have a girl named, Mia Jenae, who was born Dec. 29, 2004. Their second daughter, Macie Patricia, was born Nov. 22, 2006. Although spelled differently, Macie received her name because she was born the day before Thanksgiving Day and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gave her parents the idea.
Nicole (formerly Nicole Monforton) is a graduate of Eastern (bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2001) and Spokane’s Valley Christian High School (1997). She met Beau while working as a graduate student in EWU’s sports information office.
Recruiting State of Washington a Priority – and a Strength . . .
Having spent his entire coaching and playing career in the state of Washington, Baldwin has great knowledge of recruitment within the region and the type of player his program seeks.
“First off, we want to find those student-athletes who fit the right mold from an academic standpoint, a social standpoint and on the field,” he explained. “A lot of times, the on the field part comes easy. There are things you can do when they are between the ages of 18 and 23 to help mold and develop their character. We are going to work hard.
“We’re fortunate to be a great state when it comes to recruiting,” he added. “Some colleges aren’t as fortunate to have that corp of high school players available. I believe that we are going to keep making strides and get better and better. It’s going to be hard work, but I think everybody in our department is willing to work hard to keep us improving.”
There is no better example than two-time All-America linebacker J.C. Sherritt, who now plays for Edmonton in the Canadian Football League. Despite standing just 5-foot-10, the 2006 graduate of Pullman (Wash.) High School ended his career as the most honored player in school history. Besides winning the Buchanan Award as a senior, he was also selected to six different All-America teams as a first team selection, and was the College Sporting News Defensive Player of the Year and the Big Sky Defensive MVP. He broke his own league and school records by finishing his senior season with 176 tackles, which ranks sixth in FCS history. He finished the year ranked eighth in the FCS with an average of 11.7 tackles per game.
He closed his career with a school-record 432 tackles in his 47-game career (35 as a starter) to rank second in Big Sky history and 10th all-time in the FCS. As a junior, he finished second in the voting for the 2009 Buchanan Award. On his way to earning first team All-America honors on five different teams, he had a school and Big Sky Conference record 170 tackles, and led the FCS with an average of 14.2 tackles per game.
Entire Coaching Career Spent at Eastern or Central . . .
A 1996 graduate of Central Washington, Baldwin’s entire 22-year career as a player and coach has been spent at either CWU or EWU. His record in 18 seasons as a collegiate coach is 124-79-1 (.613) with a 71-37 league mark (.654).
Baldwin first came to Eastern in 2003 and spent four seasons in EWU’s program as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. After helping lead the Eagles to FCS Playoff appearances in 2004 and 2005, Baldwin led Central to the 2007 NCAA Division II Playoffs. Baldwin then returned to become EWU’s 20th head football coach and lead the school in its 100th football campaign in his debut season in 2008. He followed that 6-5 season with an 8-4 record and a FCS playoff berth in 2009.
In his debut season, Eastern ranked seventh nationally in passing (299.9 per game) and 24th in total offense (398.5). Individually, national awards candidates Greg Peach and Matt Nichols led the way. Peach, who would go on to win the Buchanan Award given to the top defensive player in the FCS, led the nation in sacks (1.64 per game) and tackles for loss (2.1). Nichols, a candidate for the Payton Award given to the top offensive player, ranked fifth in total offense (306.9) and sixth in passing offense (299.4).
That team finished 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the Big Sky Conference, and set the tone for what the Eagles would accomplish in 2009.
Eastern finished the 2009 season 8-4 and advanced to the playoffs for the fourth time in the last six seasons. The Eagles finished as the runner-up in the Big Sky Conference with a 6-2 mark, winning their last four regular season games by a combined 172-107 margin. Fighting injuries and fatigue from the long season, Eastern’s run came to an end with a 44-33 playoff loss at Stephen F. Austin.
The Eagles finished the season ranked 13th in the final NCAA FCS Sports Network Poll, and was also ranked 13th in the FCS Coaches poll and the AGS/anygivensaturday.com poll.
In the magical 2010 season, Baldwin and the Eagles finished a perfect 8-0 on the new red Sprinturf surface at Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) in Cheney, Wash. The red surface – the first of its kind – was funded by private donations, including a $500,000 gift by former Eagle offensive lineman and current Tennessee Titan Michael Roos. Three of the victories at the “Inferno” were in the FCS Playoffs as EWU defeated Southeast Missouri State 37-17, edged North Dakota State 38-31 in overtime and advanced to the title tilt with a 41-31 win over defending champion Villanova in the semifinals.
Thanks to the tutelage of Baldwin, Bo Levi Mitchell passed for 302 yards and three touchdowns to earn Most Outstanding Player accolades in the championship game as EWU rallied from a 19-0 deficit. Mitchell is from Katy, Texas, and transferred to EWU from Southern Methodist University following the 2009 season.
Mitchell completed 29-of-43 passes and directed EWU on scoring drives of 80 (5 plays), 89 (14 plays) and 63 yards (8 plays) – all in the final 16:48 of the game. Eastern won six games in the 2010 season when it trailed or was tied in the fourth quarter. But the magical championship game victory was by far the largest deficit the Eagles faced in those six games, and the most gratifying.
“It’s not so much magical as it’s just a lot of guys believing in each other even in the toughest of situations,” said Baldwin of the comebacks. “That’s the key. You can’t stop believing no matter how grim it feels, otherwise you’ll never have a chance to operate in those situations.”
For the season, Mitchell completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 3,496 yards (then fifth in school history), a school-record 37 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a passing efficiency rating of 135.8. In NCAA Football Championship Subdivision statistics, he finished ranked 20th in passing offense (233.1 yards per game), 26th in total offense (236.2) and 26th in efficiency (135.8). Mitchell also broke school records for attempts (505) and completions (300).
The following season, Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. Eastern ended the 2010 season ranked No. 1 in both FCS polls, and entered the 2011 season ranked that way as well.
Coaches Top Three Quarterbacks in School History . . .
While at Eastern, Baldwin has coached three of the greatest quarterbacks in NCAA FCS history – Erik Meyer (2002-2005), Matt Nichols (2006-2009) and Bo Levi Mitchell (2010-11). At Central, he coached three of its all-time greats – NFL veteran Jon Kitna, current Eastern assistant coach Zak Hill and Mike Reilly.
Mitchell won the 2011 Walter Payton Award presented by The Sports Network to the top player in the NCAA Championship Subdivision. In 2011, Mitchell led the FCS in four categories, including passing yards (4,009) and touchdown passes (33) on his way to breaking four school records. He broke EWU’s record for single season passing yards with 4,009, which ranks 17th in FCS history and fifth in Big Sky Conference history. He led EWU to a 19-7 record in two years – the most wins in back-to-back seasons of any starter in school history.
As a team, the Eagles were first in FCS in passing with an average of 368.5 per game, and were sixth overall in total offense (447.4) and 22nd in scoring (32.4).
“He really had an amazing career here,” said Baldwin. “It’s a compliment to his work ethic and his ability to pick-up a new system. He had the talent and basically just evolved within our system and kept getting better. Even though our 2011 record wasn’t what we wanted, he kept finding a way to improve and get better every week all the way until the end of the season. That says a lot about his mentality, his competitiveness and his overall drive.”
In 2009, Nichols earned prestigious first team NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association, as well as three other All-America honors. He finished fourth in the voting for the Payton Award given to the top player in the FCS, and was also the Big Sky’s Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in his career.
He broke 14 school records and six Big Sky Conference marks in his 47-game career (45 as a starter) before playing in the East-West Shrine Game and signing a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys. He passed for 3,830 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior, giving him a total of 12,616 yards and 96 touchdowns in his career. At the time, his career yardage total ranked sixth in FCS history and his touchdown total was 10th.
“It just shows his toughness and longevity,” said Baldwin. “A record like that shows a lot of things. A lot of players have talent but get hurt along the way, or this or that, but Matt was constant and was one of those guys week-in and week-out who just brought it. He deserved the records – he worked hard to get them and I am really proud of him.”
Nichols completed a career-best 65 percent of his passes in 2009 to give him a passing efficiency rating of 156.5 to rank eighth in the FCS. He was fifth in total offense (327.7 per game) and third in passing offense (319.2). As a team, the Eagles finished the 2009 season ranked in the top 10 in four offensive categories in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, including passing (3rd, 321.3), total offense (4th, 462.2), scoring (8th, 33.7) and passing efficiency (4th, 154.5).
As a junior in 2008 – Baldwin’s first season as EWU’s head coach – Nichols earned honorable mention All-BSC honors as he ranked sixth nationally in passing (299.4) and fifth in total offense (306.9). Eastern ranked seventh nationally in passing (299.9 per game) and 24th in total offense (398.5).
Nichols had a school-record 17 interceptions as a freshman when a youthful Eastern team finished just 3-8. In that learning season, Eastern was 77th in the FCS in total offense (310.3 yards per game), 34th in passing (201.90) and 77th in scoring (19.5). The following season, a more experienced EWU team advanced to the 2007 FCS Playoffs as Nichols won Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors and threw a school-record 34 touchdown passes.
“He helped improve my mechanics, my footwork and my accuracy,” Nichols said of Baldwin. “He took me from being a high school quarterback and helped me become a college quarterback. He’s a great coach.”
In 2004 and 2005 with Baldwin as coordinator, Eastern had one of the best offenses in the nation thanks to the arm and legs of Meyer. In 2005, the Eagles averaged 477.8 yards per game to rank fourth nationally, and were 14th in scoring (35.0). A year earlier, the Eagles averaged 475.5 yards and 37.5 points per game to rank sixth. Eastern also ranked in the top 10 nationally both years in passing offense and passing efficiency.
Meyer had 84 touchdown passes with just 17 interceptions in his career to set a FCS record for passing efficiency (166.47). The All-American broke 14 school records and two Big Sky marks as he was twice selected as the league’s Offensive Player of the Year before winning the Payton Award as the top player in the FCS.
In Baldwin’s first season at EWU in 2003, the Eagles ranked 29th in FCS in scoring (31.27) and were 47th in offense (380.0).
Baldwin Takes Over Highly-Successful Program From Paul Wulff . . .
Baldwin took over an Eastern football program that advanced to the FCS Playoffs three out of the previous four seasons under Paul Wulff, who left Eastern in December 2007 for the head coaching position at Washington State University. Eastern was 9-4 in 2007 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs behind an offense that included sophomore starter Matt Nichols at quarterback and three sophomore starters at wide receiver.
At the same time, Baldwin was guiding Central Washington to a nearly identical successful season.
In 2007, both the Eagles and Wildcats finished the season among the top eight teams in their respective classifications. On Nov. 24, 2007, the Wildcats scored two touchdowns in the final 2:49 to upset previously undefeated and top-seeded Nebraska-Omaha 20-17 in the second round. In the quarterfinals on Dec. 1, Central lost to No. 1 ranked and two-time defending champion Grand Valley State 41-21.
On those very same days in the FCS Playoffs, Eastern had a similar fate. The Eagles opened the playoffs on Nov. 24 by handing second-seeded and No. 3 ranked McNeese State its first loss of the season with an overwhelming 44-15 victory. Eastern was then edged 38-35 by two-time defending champion Appalachian State in the quarterfinals on Dec. 1.
The Wildcats averaged 398.5 yards of total offense per game in 2007, including an average of 263.5 passing. Central averaged 31.4 points per game, including five games with at least 40 points.
Baldwin’s quarterback was Mike Reilly, who was one of 24 national candidates for the Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II football. He earned All-Region honors after completing 62 percent of his passes for 3,386 yards, 30 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions for a passing efficiency rating of 145.8.
Baldwin, a quarterback himself at CWU and a former teammate of NFL starter Jon Kitna, watched from 2 1/2 hours away in Ellensburg, Wash., as Eastern and Nichols produced similar statistics in 2007. The Eagles finished the season with an average of 462.3 yards of offense per game (sixth in FCS), including 295.4 passing (eighth).
Two-Time Team Captain Was Backup Behind NFL Standout Jon Kitna . . .
Before coming to EWU, Baldwin spent seven seasons and nine overall at CWU with positions as quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator. A 1996 graduate of CWU, he served seven years under head coach John Zamberlin, a former EWU assistant coach who later became head coach at Idaho State.
A former Wildcat quarterback from 1990-93, Baldwin passed along his knowledge to two of the greatest quarterbacks in CWU history en route to two of the school’s best-ever seasons. He was quarterbacks coach in 1994-95 when All-American Jon Kitna was in Ellensburg, leading CWU to a 10-3-1 record and the NAIA Championship in 1995. The Wildcats also advanced to the NAIA Playoffs in 1998.
Baldwin also coached All-American Zak Hill – now an assistant coach at EWU – as the Wildcats finished the 2002 season 11-1. Central ranked fifth in NCAA Division II before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
In six of his nine seasons at CWU, the Wildcats led their conference in passing and were at least second in scoring and total offense. In 2002, Central ranked second in NCAA Division II in passing offense (315 yards per game) and was fourth in total offense (465) and 11th in scoring (36.8).
As a player, Baldwin was a two-time team captain and completed 121-of-197 passes for 1,655 yards and eight touchdowns. His career completion percentage of .614 is a school record. In a 38-35 win versus Simon Fraser in 1991, he set single-game school records for attempts (52), completions (32), yards (467), total plays (66) and total yards (550). He had a 6-yard touchdown pass with four seconds left to give the Wildcats the win.
A year later, Baldwin came off the bench to lead CWU to the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in Columbia Football Association history. He completed 21-of-33 passes for 222 yards as the Wildcats scored 26 points in the final quarter to overcome a 28-3 deficit and defeat Eastern Oregon 29-28.
Nearly 20 years later, Baldwin found himself with a headset on in similar situations in the FCS Playoffs. In a 38-31 overtime victory in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs against North Dakota State on Dec. 11, 2010, the Eagles put together a 13-play, 90-yard drive to knot the score with 23 seconds to play. Eastern, which won six games during the 2010 season when it trailed or was tied in the fourth quarter, was in a 19-0 hole in the NCAA Division I Championship Game in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 7, 2011. But Baldwin’s “calm intensity,” as his long-time assistant John Graham calls it, helped result in three EWU touchdowns in its final three possessions as the Eagles beat Delaware 20-19 for the national title.
Baldwin was a backup to Kitna in his final two seasons as a collegiate player, then spent a short time playing semi-pro football in Sweden. He played in a league that allowed only two American players each, and they were also required to serve as assistant coaches, thus giving Baldwin the new opportunity of creating plays and a game plan. Upon his return to the United States, Baldwin then coached Kitna for two more seasons, including the national title year in 1995. Kitna went on to play 15 seasons in the National Football League, with stops in Seattle, Cincinnati, Detroit and Dallas.