Head coach Beau Baldwin also wins Coach of the Year accolades for the fourth time in the past five years
Continuing the tradition they've established since winning a national championship in 2010, the Eastern Washington University football team has won two more prestigious awards presented by the Inland Northwest Sportswriters and Broadcasters (SWABS).
For the third time in the last five years, the Eagles won the Team of the Year Award after finishing the 2014 season 11-3, winning a second-straight outright Big Sky Conference title and advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs. Head Coach Beau Baldwin was selected as the Coach of the Year, repeating the honor he won in 2010, 2012 and 2013.
It was only the fourth time an Eastern team has been honored since the awards were first presented in 1948. Eagle Football also won the team honor in 2010 and 2012, as well as its 1967 football team, which was the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) runner-up that season.
Baldwin is the first Eastern coach to earn more than two Coach of the Year accolades, and his honor is the ninth overall for EWU. Previous coaches honored were football coaches Dick Zornes (1985 and 1992) and Dave Holmes (1967), as well as wrestling coach Curt Byrnes (1977) and basketball coach Ray Giacoletti (2004).
Also rare is the male Amateur Athlete of the Year awards won recently by Eastern athletes, with just five winning the honor in the last 67 years. Eastern won three from 2010-2012, but was honored just twice in the first 62 years. The athletes previously honored were football player Brandon Kaufman (2012), Bo Levi Mitchell (2011), football player J.C. Sherritt (2010), basketball player Rodney Stuckey (2007) and football player Scott Garske (1973).
More on 2014 Eagles . . .
The 2014 Eagles finished fourth in the final Sports Network Top 25 Poll, and defeated rival Montana once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. Eastern advanced to the playoffs for the 11th time, including its eighth time in the last 11 seasons since 2004. Only top-seeded New Hampshire and Montana, which made its record 22nd appearance in the FCS Playoffs, can also stake claim to that accomplishment.
Eastern garnered its 17th winning season in the last 19 years in 2014, and a 56-34 victory over Portland State on Nov. 21 in Portland, Ore., clinched the automatic playoff berth given to the league. The Eagles were the outright Big Sky Conference champions for the second-straight season, won their third-straight league title and picked up their eighth Big Sky crown overall.
The Eagles have won at least 11 games in four of the last five seasons, a victory total EWU reached only twice previously prior to 2010 (12-2 in 1997 and 11-1 in 1967). Eastern's 34 victories in the last three seasons is the best three-year stretch – by seven wins – in school history.
More on Beau Baldwin . . .
In 2014 for the first time, Baldwin was selected by the American Football Coaches Association as its District 5 Coach of the Year for the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. Baldwin made his 11th national playoff appearance as an assistant or head coach at three different classifications. He has now coached in 26 postseason playoff games (record of 16-9-1), including seven appearances in the FCS Playoffs (record of 10-6).
The two-time Big Sky Coach of the Year coached in his 100th game as a collegiate head coach in EWU's game at NAU on Oct. 25. Including a 67-25 record at Eastern and 10-3 mark in one season at his alma mater, Central, Washington, Baldwin is currently 77-28 (.740 winning percentage).
The Tacoma, Wash., native is among the leaders in Big Sky Conference history for winning percentage. He is 67-25 in seven seasons for a .728 winning percentage (currently better than the school record of .719) to currently rank seventh in the 52-year history of the Big Sky Conference for both percentage and wins overall.
His .804 winning percentage in league games (45-11) is the best-ever by an Eastern head coach and currently ranks fifth all-time in the league. His 45 Big Sky victories are a school record, besting the 34 of the EWU head coach he previously served under, Paul Wulff (2000-2007).
Eastern has advanced at least to the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs in four of the last five years under Baldwin. He helped lead EWU to its fourth Big Sky title in five seasons with a current string of three-straight, including its second-straight outright title, which came after the school's first-ever unbeaten conference mark (8-0) in 2013.