It would have been pretty hard to overlook the accomplishments of Eastern Washington's head football coach Beau Baldwin this year.
He was the man in charge of the Eagles march to a perfect 8-0 record – EWU's first undefeated league finish – in Big Sky play and the school's first undisputed conference title since 1997.
But as Baldwin acknowledged his selection as the Big Sky Conference's Coach of the Year, his second in a row, he was quick to point out that it is his supporting cast of both assistant coaches and players that need to share in the award.
"Especially in the sport of football, a coach of the year award is more accurately stated as a coaching staff of the year award," Baldwin said of the honor announced Nov. 27. "So much of it is because of what the assistant coaches do every year."
Baldwin, in his sixth season at Eastern as a head coach, said he's lucky to have assembled not only great football guys, but great teachers and men on this staff. "This type of award is a tribute to them," he said.
In addition to finishing a tough conference schedule undefeated, Eastern's third title in four seasons, the Eagles wound up 10-2 overall.
And that effort fell on the rest of the cast, the players.
"And no staff ever wins a coach of the year award without talented players, great leadership and outstanding character in the locker room," Baldwin said. "Our players exemplify that."
Baldwin became one of four coaches in FCS history to lead his team to a win over a ranked FBS team when his Eagles topped No. 25 Oregon State 49-46 to open the season.
He is now 54-21 in five-plus seasons as a head coach and 38-10 in Big Sky Conference games. His .792 winning percentage in league games is the best-ever by an Eastern head coach and currently ranks fifth in the 50-year history of the Big Sky Conference.
Baldwin's honor is the seventh for an Eastern head coach. Dick Zornes was the first in 1992, followed by Mike Kramer in 1997. Paul Wulff was honored in 2001, 2004 and 2005 prior to Baldwin winning in 2012.
Baldwin is also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award which recognizes the top coach in FCS football.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.