Cal Poly football took action to establish a new direction for the program after the 2019 season when the school hired Beau Baldwin to be it’s next head coach. Redshirt sophomore quarterback (QB) Spencer Brasch followed.
Coach Baldwin accepted the job at Cal Poly after spending the previous three seasons at University of California – Berkeley. In his first two seasons with the Golden Bears, Baldwin was the offensive coordinator and in his third year he became the quarterback coach as well.
However, Baldwin wasn’t the only Golden Bear to transfer to the green and gold in the last two years. The starting quarterback for the Mustangs in 2021 came from Cal Berkeley as well.
Prior to his time in Berkeley, Baldwin spent nine years as a head coach of Eastern Washington University. In those nine years, Baldwin led the Eagles to six Football Championship Series (FCS) playoff appearances, five Big Sky conference titles and one FCS National Championship in 2010.
Baldwin has been a coach in the sport for nearly his entire life, starting shortly after his playing career at Central Washington University.
Brasch originally committed to Cal when Baldwin was the offensive coordinator, and after entering the transfer portal earlier this year, decided to make the move to San Luis Obispo.
Brasch won the six-man competition for the starting quarterback job coming into the season, and led the Mustangs to an opening day victory against the University of San Diego. However, an injury held him out for a large portion of the season.
When he returned, he was once again named the starter and led the Mustangs to a 1-4 record over the final five weeks of the season.
The record and on field statistics tell one piece of the story, but the relationship established and developed between Cal Poly’s newest QB1 and the coaching staff – most notably Baldwin – is a positive going forward for the program.
Brasch still has two years of eligibility left, and with a full offseason program to get integrated to the team and the system, the expectations can be set high for the gunslinger. The previous connection with Baldwin had some influence over Brasch’s decision to choose Cal Poly as his next program, but this was a situation where Brasch was “looking for a new home,” and Cal Poly turned out to be the best fit.
“Me and Baldwin had a really close relationship when I was up at Cal and [through] the recruiting process,” Brasch said. “So knowing that I had someone that I knew and trusted here that wanted me here, that was a pretty big deciding factor of where I was going.”
Baldwin’s tenure with Brasch allowed him to see the bigger picture of what the quarterback could do, even at the start of his collegiate career.
“It was something where, as the offensive coordinator at Cal, he was one of the number of QBs I was recruiting in the spring of his junior year,” Baldwin said. “And when I got there, he was probably a little more under the radar compared to some other guys, but I just thought his skillset and his tools were, wow.”
When Brasch made it onto campus in Berkeley as a freshman he had to adjust to a scheme, playbook and team altogether.
“There’s always a learning curve as a true freshman, and we had an established starter,” Baldwin said. “So you knew Spencer most likely wasn’t going to come in and compete as a true freshman, but he was going to have a chance to compete in the years to come after that. It just so happened that was the only fall I was with Spencer. So it was kind of an odd situation, and this opportunity came about.”
Baldwin said that he didn’t expect a move like this to happen, but he is maximizing the opportunity.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think it was going to come to this, but here we are,” Baldwin said. “When the opportunity came where it wasn’t the right fit for Spencer, it was a no brainer for myself. I had just known the relationship I had developed with him. It excited me the possibilities that he could be a Mustang, and that could be a new home for him.”
A lot of the playbook is similar to what it was when the pair was both at Cal, which made the transition a much smoother process than it could have been.
Baldwin had plenty of experience with Brasch in the past and welcomed him to the program with open arms, but he did not promise him a starting spot.
“Well he had to definitely come and earn it, but I knew what I had seen in both recruiting him and during his freshman year,” Baldwin said. “ I had seen exactly what he did as a junior in highschool, senior in highschool and then freshman fall.”
Brasch is welcoming the new opportunity, taking his new challenges head on and thankful for the relationships he has that are not restricted to only on the field.
“It was super nice just to have someone that was looking out for me when I first got here because coming here I didn’t really know anyone,” Brasch said. “So it was huge to have someone that was helping me. Seeing familiar faces coming to a new school, not just everything new, is really nice to have it that way.”