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Eastern Washington plans ‘expedited search’ for Beau Baldwin’s successor

Jeff Schmedding, defensive coordinator, left, and Aaron Best, offensive line coach, are the two co-interim head coaches of the Eastern Washington University Eagles football team and likely candidates to replace Beau Baldwin.
JESSE TINSLEY jesset@spokesman.com (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Jeff Schmedding, defensive coordinator, left, and Aaron Best, offensive line coach, are the two co-interim head coaches of the Eastern Washington University Eagles football team and likely candidates to replace Beau Baldwin. JESSE TINSLEY jesset@spokesman.com (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Eastern Washington football is running its hurry-up offense – in January.

On Monday, as coach Beau Baldwin announced his departure for California, the Eagles were moving forward by reassuring players, recruits and fans.

The next step: finding a replacement for Baldwin, the most successful coach in program history.

The timing is awkward. National Signing Day is barely two weeks away, and Eastern is one of only a handful of schools without a head coach.

Athletic director Bill Chaves, who hired Baldwin nine years ago under more leisurely circumstances, understands the urgency.

“As far as a timetable, you always go into a search wanting to get it done as soon as possible,” Chaves said. “It’s something I’m quite aware of, but at the same time, you want to make sure it’s the right fit.”

“You want to make sure you do the right thing for the institution and the program,” said Chaves, who plans an “expedited search” for Baldwin’s successor.

Bill Chaves already has moved quickly, naming offensive line coach Aaron Best and defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding as interim co-head coaches. Both figure to be on the short list to replace Baldwin, and Chaves seemed to encourage that notion.

Asked what he characteristics he was seeking in a new coach, Chaves said, “The program has a certain culture, and having an association with the program probably makes some sense.”

“That doesn’t preclude anyone, but there’s a certain way this program has had success, and I don’t think you ever want to interrupt a recipe that’s been successful.”

However, Chaves didn’t rule out going in another direction, perhaps hiring a current head coach from another school.

Other possible candidates include; Junior Adams, a former wide receivers coach at Eastern who recently became offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky; and Zak Hill, the passing coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Eastern for five years and now offensive coordinator at Boise State; and Jimmy Lake, a former EWU player and currently a top defensive assistant at Washington.

Asked about the possibility of succeeding Baldwin, both Best and Schmedding said other issues are more pressing.

“Right now, the welfare of the students is the number one thing is making sure the kids are taken care of, physically and emotionally,” Best said.

However, Lake, Adams and Hill would probably need to take a pay cut to take the Eastern job, which last year paid Baldwin $222,000 a year.

Meanwhile, Baldwin didn’t exactly slam the door on the possibility of some EWU assistants joining him at Cal.

“I don’t know yet – I can’t speculate,” Baldwin said. “I don’t want to speak for coach Wilcox, he has to go through a process.”

“But that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be,” Baldwin said.

Assuming Baldwin was referring only to offensive coaches, that could include wide receivers coach Nicholas Edward or running backs coach Kiel McDonald.

One thing is certain: Best won’t be going to Cal, because coach Justin Wilcox has already hired former Oregon assistant Steve Greatwood to run the Bears’ offensive line.

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