Only four home games next season for EWU football
Beau Baldwin learned officially on Friday just how limited the scheduling benefits from winning a national football championship can be.
Yet, Eastern Washington’s third-year head coach insisted he is fine with the fact that his Eagles, who won the school’s first NCAA Division I football title by edging Delaware 20-19 in the finals of Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in Frisco, Texas, earlier this month, will play seven of their 11 regular-season games on the road next fall.
“I don’t mind, I don’t mind at all,” Baldwin said, when asked about his team’s road-heavy 2011 schedule that opens with consecutive road games against the University of Washington (Sept. 3), South Dakota (Sept. 10) and Montana (Sept. 17) and includes only four home games – against Big Sky Conference rivals Montana State (Sept. 24), Weber State (Oct. 1), Northern Colorado (Oct. 15) and Portland State (Oct. 29).
“Last year, if you count our game at Qwest Field (against Central Washington), we played four of our first five on the road, and every one of those was against a great opponent. So, no, next year’s schedule doesn’t bother me at all – and I don’t think it will bother our players, either.”
Baldwin went so far as to embrace the idea of getting those three consecutive road games to open the season out of the way before classes start.
“It’s not like our kids have to juggle going on the road three straight weekends with going to class and doing homework like would in the middle of the season,” he explained. “And to me, that’s a big deal.
“When they come back from a road trip in the middle of the year, they’ve usually got a ton of homework for Monday and Tuesday, but in this case they don’t. They can rest up a little bit better before going on the road again for the next game.
“I think the road becomes a lot more draining when it’s in the middle of the season when you’ve got school going on.”
EWU athletic director Bill Chaves, in a statement released by the university, said he liked the 2011 schedule composition of 10 FCS games and only one play-up contest against a Football Bowl Subdivision school (Washington).
But he admitted he would have preferred at least one more home game.
“If there’s one thing I wish could have happened, it was that we had five home games and not four,” Chaves said. “But sometimes that is just what occurs in the scheduling process – it is an inexact science.
“It took some time to complete the schedule, given the challenge in the west from an FCS standpoint.”
Eastern’s third, and final, nonconference game will be played against Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Nov. 12, followed by the regular-season finale against Big Sky rival Idaho State in Pocatello, Ida., on Nov. 19.