Aaron Best enters his 19th year as an Eagle, including four years at Eastern (1996-99) as an All-America center and 14 previous seasons as an assistant coach (2000-2006, 2008-2014). An academic honor student as an undergraduate at Eastern, Best is the team’s offensive line coach, its running game coordinator and also handles the team’s academic coordinator duties.
The 2014 season was punctuated by a high-scoring offense for the Eagles, who broke school and Big Sky records with 618 points and 84 touchdowns. The Eagles established a school record for average points per game with a mark of 44.1 to rank first in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. En route to finishing 11-3 overall and winning the outright league title at 7-1, EWU also ranked third in FCS in total offense (513.4) and second in passing offense (328.6).
His offensive line in 2014 featured consensus All-American Jake Rodgers, who was eventually drafted in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Aaron Neary also earned All-America recognition and joined Rodgers on the All-Big Sky first team list, while two other Eagles (tackle Clay DeBord and center Jase Butorac) earned honorable mention.
In the last 22 years (1993-2014), the Eagles have now had 23 offensive linemen earn All-America accolades while winning 24 first team All-Big Sky Conference honors (1993-2014).
In 2013 in his fifth season as offensive coordinator, EWU led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing efficiency (school record 182.6), and was fourth in total offense (533.5 per game), fourth in passing (349.8), 41st in rushing (183.7) and seventh in scoring (39.5). The Eagles finished 12-3 and advanced to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the third time in four seasons after finishing with the school’s first-ever undefeated Big Sky Conference season at 8-0. Center Ashton Miller, quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and wide receiver Cooper Kupp earned All-America honors for the Eagles. Other offensive linemen earning All-Big Sky honors included guards Steven Forgette and Brandon Murphy, and tackles Clay DeBord and Cassidy Curtis. That group allowed 27 sacks in 15 games – 1.8 per game and just one for every 13.0 pass attempts.
In 2012, Eastern’s offense ranked seventh in the FCS with an average of 318.9 passing yards per game, and was also 14th in total offense (442.0) and 17th in scoring offense (33.7). The Eagles featured All-America offensive linemen Will Post and Forgette, and All-America wide receiver Brandon Kaufman. Eastern finished 12-2 and shared the league title with Cal Poly and Montana State.
In 2011, the Eagles ranked first in the 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). The offense featured four All-Americans, including center Chris Powers, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and wide receivers Nicholas Edwards and Greg Herd. Mitchell won the Walter Payton Award given by The Sports Network to the top player in the FCS.
However, Best’s job as offensive line coach in 2011 was made significantly harder when a trio of starters were lost early in the season because of injuries, as well as three starts missed by Powers. In all, 10 players started along the offensive line – including a converted tight end and a converted defensive lineman – and only one offensive lineman (senior Gabriel Jackson) started all 11 games. Powers was a first team All-Big Sky Conference selection in 2011, and Jackson and Post earned honorable mention.
During EWU’s 2010 NCAA Division I championship season, Best helped Eastern’s offense rank 22nd in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in yards per game (397.1) and 18th in scoring (31.5). The Eagle offense featured a trio of All-Americans, including running back Taiwan Jones, Kaufman and Powers.
Four of the offensive linemen he coached earned All-Big Sky honors – Powers (first team), Jackson (second team), senior guard Nikolai Myers (honorable mention) and Forgette (honorable mention). Eastern quarterbacks were sacked only 24 times, including just seven times in four playoff games.
In 2009, his first season as offensive coordinator, the Eagles finished ranked in the top 10 in four offensive categories in the FCS, including passing (3rd, 321.3), total offense (4th, 462.2), scoring (8th, 33.7) and passing efficiency (4th, 154.5). Senior quarterback Matt Nichols, senior tight end Nathan Overbay and Jones all won All-America honors and first team All-Big Sky honors.
He coached a trio of All-Big Sky Conference offensive linemen in 2009 – senior tackle Chris Thomas, senior guard Ryan Forney and Powers – who all earned honorable mention accolades. In 2008, three earned honorable mention as senior center Charlie Wulff was joined by Thomas and sophomore tackle Brice Leahy.
Best spent the 2007 season as an offensive line specialist for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. Best helped the Argonauts win the Eastern Division championship with an 11-7 record before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Although Toronto was last in the league in total offense, Best’s offensive line ranked third in fewest sacks allowed with 40. Eastern Hall of Fame member Bill Diedrick Jr., was also an offensive coach for the Argonauts.
Best was a guest coach at Toronto’s training camp in May 2007, and then was asked to return as a full-time coach in July. In 2006, he attended the Calgary Stampeders training camp as a guest coach to offensive coordinator Steve Buratto, who graduated from the University of Idaho and spent the 2007 season coaching in Toronto.
In his previous stint at Eastern, Best had the opportunity to coach two All-Americans in the 2004 season and another in 2005. He was the school’s primary offensive line coach from 2002-2006 after previously helping coach that unit as a graduate assistant in 2001 and as a student assistant in 2000.
Matt Alfred earned All-America honors in 2005, and he was recognized on the All-Big Sky squad along with Kraig Sigler and Rocky Hanni. All five of Eastern’s starting offensive linemen earned All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2004, including first team selections Michael Roos and Rocky Hanni. Both players went on to earn All-America honors, with Roos also being selected as the Lineman of the Year by I-AA.Org.
Roos played in the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, and was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. He became the highest NFL draft choice in school history when he was chosen in the second round – 41st overall – by the Tennessee Titans in 2005.
A season-ending knee injury in 2014 led to his retirement from the NFL after 10 seasons. In his last 13 seasons as a football player, Roos started every game he played – a total of 226 games. His last 35 starts were at EWU from 2002-04 when he originally became an offensive lineman. He credited several EWU coaches – Best, Paul Wulff and Beau Baldwin -- in his retirement statement on Instagram on Feb. 26, 2015.
Roos started every football game he played from 2002-14, and that streak ended at 226 after Roos suffered a knee injury on Oct. 5, 2014, and subsequently retired. He started 190 of a possible 190 games he could play in until an appendicitis attack and subsequent surgery in October 2012. His 191 starts as a Titan included two AFC playoff games, 148 regular season games, 40 pre-season contests and as a starter in his first-ever Pro Bowl on Feb. 8, 2009).
“I was very lucky to have the best offensive line coach possible in Aaron Best,” praised Roos in response to having his jersey retired at EWU on Oct. 24, 2009. “He taught all of us the meaning of hard work and perseverance.”
Eastern’s offensive lines helped the Eagles rank fourth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in total offense in both 2004 and 2005. In 2005, the Eagles averaged 477.8 yards per game, and were 13th in scoring (35.0). A year earlier, the Eagles averaged 475.5 yards and 37.5 points per game to rank sixth.
In 2003, Eastern averaged 380.0 yards per game and ranked 21st in the FCS in passing offense (247.3). In 2002, the Eagles finished third nationally in passing offense (317.6) and were sixth in total offense (447.6), a year after leading the FCS in total offense (514.5) and scoring (41.9) in 2001.
Best started 22-straight games at center for Eastern in 1998 and 1999, earning honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a junior and first team honors as a senior. He also earned honorable mention All-America honors his final season.
An outstanding student with a 3.3 grade point average, as a senior he was selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII team and was selected to the FCS Athletic Directors Academic All-Star Team. Twice he was selected to the Big Sky All-Academic team. He received his bachelor’s degree in social science from EWU in 2001, and continues to work toward his master’s degree in physical education.
He was Eastern’s long-snapper for four seasons and was a backup lineman in 1997 when Eastern led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in total offense (505.6 yards per game). That team finished 12-2 and advanced to the FCS “Final Four.” The Eagles were 31-16 in the four seasons Best played for EWU, and Eastern had a 1,000-yard rusher each year. In all, the Eagles have had a 1,000-yard rusher in 11 of the 18 seasons Best has been at EWU.
Best graduated in 1996 from Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash., where he had a 3.75 grade point average. He was co-captain his senior season as Curtis won the State AAA championship. His brother Tyler Best was a starting catcher for the Lewis-Clark State baseball team, which won its second straight NAIA World Series title in 2003.
Best was born Jan. 27, 1978, in Tacoma, Wash. He and the former Kim Walker were married on July 15, 2007, in Everett, Wash. They have three children – one son, Tank William Best (7), and two daughters, Tenli Dakotah (5) and Texis Elizabeth (1, born Oct. 4, 2013).