Monday, January 16, 2017
Beau Baldwin Leaves Eastern Washington to Be OC at Cal, and It Makes Sense
If you are a college football fan, and you do not know who Beau Baldwin is, you need to assess what it means to be a college football fan. Baldwin has built one of the premier power house programs at FCS member Eastern Washington in the Big Sky Conference. The Eagles, under the watch of Baldwin, have become an annual title chase contender, and his offenses have been some of the most explosive in the nation. He has beaten both Mike Riley (Oregon State) and Mike Leach (Washington State), and has come very close to winning some other memorable games against FBS opponents over the years. In short Baldwin should be a very hot commodity right now.
There were 18 job openings in major college football on the FBS level this off season. Not one of those jobs went to an FCS head coach. Not one. Baldwin was a leading candidate at Nevada, but in some sort of temporary haze (let us hope), they hired Jay Norvell, a career assistant with a very mixed record, instead. Does that make any sense? My answer would be no.
This is where the California Offensive Coordinator job comes in. Where as it may seem maddening that a guy with a 95-35 career record as a head coach by the age of 44 can't land a major job, this move, in turn, means something in the strategy of job hopping. If you can't beat them, join them.
With coordinators and former retread head coaches (see Butch Davis, Lane Kiffin, Jeff Tedford, etc.) being the hot hires these days, why not join the elite ranks as a coordinator and make the jump from there? That had to be what Baldwin had in mind today when he accepted the job as OC under new head coach Justin Wilcox. Wilcox himself has never been a head coach before, coming off of 11 years as a defensive coordinator or assistant at the FBS level. It could be possible that Baldwin himself would have or could have been a better pick to be the head coach at Cal, but that is for a different argument.
Baldwin does not have to reinvent the wheel at Cal to be successful. The Bears, under recently fired Sonny Dykes, have always had a fine offense. It was the defense that was an absolute train wreck under Dykes. Baldwin does not have to worry about that. Right now, that is the problem belonging to Wilcox. Baldwin just has to continue to let the Cal offense run wild, and hope that he and his staff can recruit well enough to keep it running that way. Nothing more needs to be done. He knows how to coach players up, as he just coached one of the best receivers in NCAA history in Cooper Kupp. Nobody is doubting his ability to run an offense.
Once Baldwin proves himself to the snobs that run coaching searches all over the country, it should be a short year or two before he is knocking down doors as one of the hottest candidates in college football, which he should already be. The man has won 95 games between stops at Central Washington and Eastern Washington. His career post season record is 11-6 between both stops. He has won an NCAA title at EWU. He has won 5 Big Sky titles in 8 years.
Don't worry about Beau Baldwin. He will be taking someone's job fairly soon. He just has to travel a circuitous route to get there.