Noah Greenblatt is a journalism sophomore and Mustang News sports reporter. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
There’s really no way to say it delicately, so I’ll just come right out with it. It’s time to move on from Beau Baldwin as Head Football Coach at Cal Poly — or at least, time to start thinking about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand why the school and Athletic Director Don Oberhelman originally hired him. They hired him because he used to be a damn good head coach. In fact, his .726 winning percentage during his time at Eastern Washington (2008-2016) is still the best in the school’s history.
If Cal Poly had hired Baldwin to be their coach right after his tenure at EWU was finished, I think it would’ve worked out a lot better. Because then, he would’ve been hired immediately after a career that included five Big Sky Conference titles, six FCS Playoffs appearances and the 2010 FCS National Championship, which remains the only one in EWU history.
But, it turns out that three years in between head coaching jobs can do a lot to a coach’s success.
Since Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong introduced Baldwin as head coach on Dec. 11, 2019, Baldwin has coached the Mustangs to just four wins, held a lead in only nine games and his teams have been outscored by halftime by a total of 429 points, according to Go Poly.
Baldwin has the fewest number of wins by any Cal Poly head coach through their first 25 games in school history. And, he also has an 0–5 record versus UC Davis and Sacramento State — the team’s two biggest rivals — since taking over.
So why does the school insist on keeping him? Certainly not for the four wins in 25 games.
One reason might be the tendency of his players to be very successful academically — something that Cal Poly prides itself on as a whole, not just when it relates to athletics. Baldwin has a reputation for graduating players, but he also had a reputation and results at EWU of award-winning, talented players. Cooper Kupp, anyone? Sadly, he hasn’t had that during his time in San Luis Obispo so far.
Whether that’s due to the program simply not having enough of a reputation, or because Baldwin and his staff themselves haven’t made enough of an effort to go out and get players that can match up with the size and physicality of other teams in the Big Sky, their lack of game-changers are a major problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
In Baldwin’s introductory press conference, President Armstrong said that “it’s time for football to rise to the level of academics.”
If that’s still true almost three years later (and I’d like to think it is), then it’s time for the coach and his staff to shift their focus away from graduation rate and more toward win percentage. If not, then the school needs to find a coach who will.
Another reason, and perhaps the biggest reason, why the school should be tightening the leash on Baldwin for next season is the god-awful offense he’s brought to the Mustangs. Which is odd, considering that they hired him because he was an offensive-minded coach.
Remember the three-year gap between head coaching jobs mentioned earlier? It was during those three years that he went to UC Berkeley to become their Offensive Coordinator. In doing so, he gave the college football world a chance to see the negatives of his coaching ability.
During his three seasons there, the Golden Bears were, quite simply, atrocious on offense. In his second season at Berkeley, the Bears’ offensive efficiency ranked as the second-worst among all Power Five teams. The following year, Berkeley (led by, to be fair, their third-string quarterback) was shut out for the first time in 20 years against Utah on Oct. 26.
While he was the OC, the Bears finished the 2017, 2018 and 2019 football seasons with the 11th, 12th and 12th ranked offenses respectively (out of 12 teams) in the Pac-12 in yards per game. During those same seasons, the Bears finished with the 10th, 12th and 12th-ranked offenses in the Pac-12 in total points per game.
During his three years with the Green and Gold, the offense has managed just 18.87 points per game.
There’s no way of knowing for sure if Baldwin staying at Eastern Washington, or even just remaining a head coach at a different school, would’ve translated to success on the Mustangs’ sideline. However, based on how the team has performed since he took over as head coach, his time at Berkeley didn’t help.
Please understand that this article isn’t meant to be an attack on Baldwin’s character, or who he is as a person. I’m sure he’s a perfectly lovely guy, and it is well-known that players enjoy playing for him. But, with all due respect, I don’t care about that if there aren’t any results on the field.
Which is where the third and final reason for putting him on the hot seat comes into the equation.
During the same press conference where Armstrong stressed the importance of athletic success, Coach Baldwin also made a bold statement of his own: he wanted the Cal Poly Mustangs to be the best team in the Big Sky within five years.
Obviously, that hasn’t happened. He has failed to keep, or even trend, in the direction of keeping his promise. Guess what happens to coaches who fail to keep their promises? They get fired.
However, because I know it’s not entirely his fault, I will propose an alternative to firing him immediately. If he can match his Cal Poly win total next season, I’m okay with him at least staying through all of 2023. That’s it! Just win four games, and he’ll have shown me that he can help the program.
But if not, then he needs to be gone.