Jeff Schmedding had the chore of scheming against the Alabama of the Football Champion Subdivision – North Dakota State – in the 2018 FCS title game, one of the Bison’s eight championships in nine years.
The former Eastern Washington defensive coordinator and University High graduate is now preparing for the real thing.
Schmedding, who spent the past two seasons as Boise State’s defensive coordinator, recently followed former Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin to Southeastern Conference power Auburn.
Schmedding is the Tigers’ fiery new linebackers coach and defensive run-game coordinator.
“It’s the SEC. You can’t shy away from it,” Schmedding said. “It just means more down here.”
Two days after making his move to Alabama this month, Schmedding and Auburn’s new coaching staff watched as rival Alabama dispatched Ohio State 51-24 in the Football Bowl Subdivision title game, the Crimson Tide’s 18th national crown.
Auburn, one of college football’s premier institutions, faces its in-state nemesis Alabama on Nov. 27 in of the country’s premier rival games, the Iron Bowl.
“We’ve hit the ground running,” Schmedding said.
Schmedding ran in 56-degree Alabama winter weather on Wednesday at historic Jordan-Hare Stadium, a facility that seats more than 87,000 fans.
When Schmedding isn’t glued to the office for coaches meetings and recruiting, he and other new coaches are living out of a suitcase at a nearby hotel.
Schmedding’s family is still in Boise and hasn’t moved to an Auburn home.
Schmedding made $250,000 in 2019 at Boise State before a bump of $349,000 in 2020, nearly five times his highest EWU salary.
He replaces former Auburn linebacker coach Travis Williams, who made $450,000 a year on Guz Malzajn’s staff.
Harsin, who went 64-17 at Boise State, replaced the fired Malzahn in December.
“This stuff happens fast. I didn’t really see it coming,” Schmedding said. “There was a waiting period (after Harsin left BSU for Auburn), where I wasn’t sure where I’d be next.
“But I have bought into Harsin’s vision since the beginning and fortunate for this opportunity.”
Harsin, whose coaching career started as a graduate assistant at NAIA Eastern Oregon in 2000, likes Schmedding’s approach.
“When you look at the defenses Coach Schmedding coordinated in Boise, they were championship caliber, so I know the work ethic and preparation he brings every single day,” Harsin said. “He is a veteran presence on this staff that makes others around him better. The versatility he brings with the linebackers and connecting the attacking middle of our Auburn defense will complement the vision of (defensive coordinator Derek) Mason as a whole.”
Mason also has Big Sky Conference connections. He played at Northern Arizona in the 1990s and was briefly an assistant at Weber State and Idaho State.
Bodie Reeder, EWU’s offensive coordinator for two seasons (2017-18), is also on Auburn’s staff as an offensive analyst.
Reeder was previously the offensive coordinator at North Texas in 2019 and Utah State in 2020.
“A lot of our staff started out at small schools,” Schmedding said. “I remember when I was able to get (former EWU head coach Beau Baldwin) to let me coach special teams, and worked my way up.”
Schmedding was a graduate assistant under ex-EWU coach Paul Wulff (2000-2007) and coached everything from linebackers, special teams to safeties (2008-14) before he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2015.
Schmedding’s final season in Cheney in 2018 saw the Eagles win the Big Sky Conference title and advance to the program’s second national title game.
“I remember when my office (at EWU) didn’t have a window for 15 years,” Schmedding said. “Then I got my first window at Boise State and we’re getting new football facilities at Auburn.
“I wish nothing but the best for EWU and BSU. Good places to live and work and winning programs.”
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