Beau Baldwin’s lower lip was quivering late Saturday afternoon just moments Eastern Washington University’s head football coach had watched his Eagles earn a share of the Big Sky Conference title with a 34-7 win over Idaho State at Roos Field.
Part of that quiver stemmed from the fact that Baldwin’s players had doused him with a large bucket of ice-cold liquid in the waning seconds of a game that had played out in near-freezing temperatures.
But part of it was also the result of Baldwin’s emotional postgame encounter with his former mentor and ISU head coach John Zamberlin, who had just coached his last game for the Bengals following the school’s announcement that he would be dismissed at the end of the regular season.
Following the game, Baldwin walked to midfield and gave the teary-eyed Zamberlin a big hug.
“I told him I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for John Zamberlin, and I’ve always felt that way,” said Baldwin, who spent six seasons as the 54-year-old Zamberlin’s quarterbacks coach at Central Washington University from 1997-2002. “John Zamberlin has done so much for me, and this hurts, because I know how great a coach he is.”
Baldwin, who left Zamberlin’s CWU staff to become the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach under Paul Wulff at Eastern in 2003, returned to his alma mater in 2007, replacing Zamberlin after he was hired away by Idaho State.
“So I still have a lot of friends on his (ISU) staff,” added Baldwin, who led the Wildcats to an NCAA Division II playoff berth that year before taking the EWU reins from Wulff in 2008, “so this is hard. It hurts. … I know all of those guys are competitors, and they’ll be successful again somewhere. But at the same time, it’s never easy seeing things not going well for one of your best buddies.”