SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Beau Baldwin, who coached Eastern Washington to the 2010 NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national title and has served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Cal the last three seasons, became Cal Poly’s 17th head football coach Wednesday.
Mustang director of athletics Don Oberhelman and Cal Poly president Jeffrey Armstrong made the announcement inside the Recreation Center’s Multi-Activity Center.
“I’m delighted to introduce Beau Baldwin as our head football coach,” said Oberhelman. “Beau is someone I have known and respected for a very long time, and I am so pleased that he is now a member of the Mustang Family.
“His desire to lead and mentor young men, and be an educator is something that is a ‘must’ at Cal Poly,” Oberhelman added. “In addition, he has a proven track record of winning Big Sky and national championships, recruiting top notch student-athletes, graduating his students, and creating NFL opportunities for many. “Beau just seems to fit perfectly with Cal Poly.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Coach Baldwin to Cal Poly,” said Armstrong. “Coach Baldwin’s winning record and many accomplishments on the field are impressive, but equally impressive is his history of developing young men of character and supporting high academic achievement.
“His passion for winning is complemented by his commitment to winning the right way and upholding the same values we hold dear at Cal Poly,” Armstrong added.
Baldwin is returning to the Big Sky Conference after a three-year absence. During his nine years as the head coach at Eastern Washington, he compiled a 58-14 record in Big Sky Conference games and 85-32 overall from 2008 until 2016. The Eagles won five Big Sky titles, earned six FCS playoff berths and won the Big Sky’s last national championship nine years ago.
“More than anything, I am just humbled and honored to be a part of the Mustang family and to be a part of a culture of commitment and history that is rich both on and off the field,” said Baldwin. “With the coaches and former student-athletes who were here before me, they set an amazing foundation that allows for the opportunity for myself and the program to keep moving in a great direction.
“I’d like to thank Don Oberhelman and President Armstrong. I just appreciate so much their vision and what they see in myself in being the next leader of Cal Poly football,” Baldwin added. “I have so much respect for Don over the years, what he’s done here, and President Armstrong, not only for his vision of what we can be on the field, but who Cal Poly is as a university and community. I am very humbled that I was chosen as the next leader and I can’t wait to get going and get to work.”
Baldwin’s 85 wins at Eastern Washington are tied for No. 5 in the Big Sky and his .726 winning percentage is No. 7. In conference games only, Baldwin’s 58 victories are No. 4 in the Big Sky while his .806 winning percentage is No. 5 all-time.
Among head coaches with five or more years of experience in the Big Sky, Baldwin is the second-winningest coach with his .806 percentage in conference games only, behind Montana’s Bobby Hauck and his .826 percentage (57-12). Both have coached in the conference for nine years.
Named Big Sky Coach of the Year in both 2012 and 2013, Baldwin also was head coach at Central Washington in 2007, winning 10 of 13 games and guiding the Wildcats to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals, after serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Eastern Washington for four seasons (2003-06).
Baldwin helped coach former Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year winners Erik Meyer (2004, 2005), Matt Nichols (2007, 2009), Taiwan Jones (2010), Bo Levi Mitchell (2011), Vernon Adams (2013, 2014), Cooper Kupp (2015, 2016) and Gage Gubrud (2016).
During Baldwin’s three seasons at Cal, the Bears won 19 of 37 games with appearances in the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl and, on Dec. 30, the 2019 Redbox Bowl versus Illinois at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Baldwin’s offenses during his first two campaigns at Cal were highlighted by the play of Patrick Laird, the Mission Prep graduate who finished his Golden Bear career with 2,153 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns on the ground. Laird also caught more passes in his Cal career than any running back in school history with 99 receptions for 608 yards and five touchdowns. Laird’s 51 receptions as a 2018 senior campaign were also a single-season school record for a running back. Laird is now playing for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Cal was 7-5 during the 2019 regular season, finishing with wins over Stanford and UCLA to earn a berth in the Redbox Bowl (formerly the Emerald Bowl). Quarterback Chase Garber, who missed four midseason games due to injury, has completed 109 of 184 passes for 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season while Christopher Brown Jr. has rushed for 794 yards and eight scores in 12 games.
Baldwin will be on the opposite sideline of Cal Memorial Stadium when he returns to Berkeley on Sept. 12 as Cal Poly plays Cal for the first time in football. It will be the Mustangs’ third game ever against a Pac-12 school.
“I just have a passion for being a head coach,” Baldwin said of his decision to coach at Cal Poly. “My experience in the last year at Cal was amazing and I owe a lot to Coach (Justin) Wilcox and the knowledge that I was able to gain, the experience I had and the student-athletes who I was able to be around in the last three years.
“At the end of the day, I wanted badly to have another opportunity to lead a program,” Baldwin added. “With that being said, it had to be right. It had to be the right fit, the right community with the right people and that’s what drew me to Cal Poly. It just felt like the right fit at the right time.”