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Eastern Washington coaches, players ponder their future

EWU players gather at Roos Field after a game on Dec. 10, 2016, in Cheney. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
EWU players gather at Roos Field after a game on Dec. 10, 2016, in Cheney. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

As the Eastern Washington basketball team was playing Northern Arizona on Thursday night, all was quiet down the hall.

In the EWU football offices, co-interim head coaches Aaron Best and Jeff Schmedding were pondering a future that is out of their hands.

So was a lone player, wide receiver Terence Grady. All three were gathered in Best’s office, chatting each other up and hoping for the best as athletic director Bill Chaves weighs his options for a coach to succeed Beau Baldwin.

No matter who that is, Grady hopes that the recent departure of Baldwin and other coaches won’t change the Eagles’ pass-oriented offense.

“If it ain’t broke, why fix it – right?” said Brady, a junior who agreed to redshirt last year for the promise of two seasons outside the shadows cast by Cooper Kupp, Kendrick Bourne and Shaq Hill.

Now they’re gone, but so is Baldwin, offensive coordinator Troy Taylor and receivers coach Nick Edwards.

Will the passing game go with them?

“I hope not, because it’s something we’ve been really successful with,” Grady said.

Meanwhile, Best and Schmedding were awaiting weekend interviews with Chaves.

Best, the Eagles’ offensive line coach, and Schmedding, the defensive coordinator, are the top in-house candidates to replace Baldwin. Neither could comment on the hiring situation except to say that interviews with Chaves were imminent.

However, their chances appeared to improve Friday, as former EWU receivers coach Junior Adams – recently hired as offensive coordinator at Western Kentucky –said Friday afternoon that he hasn’t been contacted by the Eagles.

“I haven’t heard anything from anyone at Eastern,” said Adams, who coached EWU All-Americans Edwards, Brandon Kaufman and Cooper Kupp. “I haven’t paid much attention to it, to be honest.”

“Right now I’m focused on finishing this recruiting class,” said Adams, who moved to WKU from Boise State on Dec. 30.

A day earlier, reports from Boise indicated that another coach with strong Eastern ties – former quarterbacks coach Zak Hill – will stay at Boise State.

On Monday, when Baldwin announced his departure, Chaves said that his preference was for a coach with Eastern ties.

“The program has a certain culture, and having an association with the program probably makes some sense,” Chaves said. “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.”

Back at the basketball game, several football players were watching the action. Cornerback Josh Lewis spent halftime sharing the collective angst over the uncertainty and the ever-present rumors.

“I think they said they have some kind of an idea what they’re going to do, but it’s going to be a relief when it’s over,” Lewis said.

“We just have to trust the process and Bill Chaves,” Lewis said.

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