Eastern Washington opens the football season today hoping to have a one-year ban on postseason play lifted and make another Football Championship Subdivision playoff run like it did two years ago.
CHENEY — Eastern Washington opens the football season hoping to have a one-year ban on postseason play lifted and make another Football Championship Subdivision playoff run like it did two years ago.
Beau Baldwin, who coordinated Eastern’s high-powered offense in 2007 before taking over as the coach at Central Washington, was brought back to coach the Eagles after Paul Wulff left for Washington State.
The Eagles finished a disappointing 6-5 last season.
“Anytime there’s change, no matter how slight, it’s difficult for coaches and players, alike,” Baldwin said. “Even though there was some familiarity with some of us, a lot of us were in different roles than we had been in the past, and that caused some problems.
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“But I can definitely sense a different feeling this year than I did last, just as far as having players and coaches on the same page.”
The Eagles begin play at 12:05 p.m. today in a nonconference game at home against Western Oregon.
How Eastern fares this year will depend largely on senior quarterback Matt Nichols, who was the Big Sky Conference offensive MVP in 2007, throwing for 3,744 yards and a school-record 34 touchdowns.
Nichols’ numbers slipped last fall, but after dropping 20 pounds over the winter he seems poised for a big finish, regardless of how the school’s appeal of its postseason ban turns out.
Eastern was placed on three years’ probation and hit with the one-year postseason ban by the NCAA in February for violations that occurred from 2003 to 2007.