It wasn’t much of a game, but it was the beginning of something great for Eastern Washington football.
On Aug. 30, 2008, the Beau Baldwin era began with a 49-24 loss at Texas Tech. The Eagles fell behind by three scores in the first quarter, made things semi-interesting by halftime but ultimately lost 49-24 to Mike Leach and his Air Raid offense.
Looking back, it was a win-win for almost everyone involved. Baldwin went on to win a national FCS title two years later and led the Eagles to the best stretch in school history before taking the offensive coordinator’s job at Cal.
His quarterback that day, Matt Nichols, threw 61 passes, but his arm recovered and he went on to become the most prolific thrower in school history. He’s now thriving in the Canadian Football League.
That 2008 season turned out to be the high-water mark for Texas Tech football. Led by quarterback Graham Harrell and two-time Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Michael Crabtree, the Red Raiders went on to share the Big 12 title.
After a falling out with Tech, Leach landed at Washington State and met Baldwin twice more on the football field. Baldwin had the last laugh as the Eagles won 45-42 last year in Pullman.
Want more coincidences? Harrell went on to become a receivers coach for Leach at Washington State. Before that, he worked as an offensive quality control coach at – wait for it – Oklahoma State, the same job current Eastern OC Bodie Reeder held before moving to Cheney this year.
Aaron Best was on the field that day. Best was coming off a one-year stint as an offensive line specialist for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, before rejoining Baldwin at Eastern.
“There are only a few of us on staff that have been down there,” Best said this week. “It’s a beautiful place to play.”
“They will be ready and it is everybody’s first game. The fans, on top of the players, will be ready for this one,” Best said.
The biggest winners might just be the fans – from both schools. Tech and Eastern play some of the most entertaining football in the land, with record-setting passing offenses and games that always entertain.
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