Beau Baldwin’s return to the Football Championship Subdivision became official Wednesday when the Cal offensive coordinator was introduced as head coach at Cal Poly of the Big Sky Conference.
Baldwin, 47, confirmed during his introductory news conference that he will stay with the Bears through their Dec. 30 Redbox Bowl game against Illinois.
"I get to go up and finish out a couple more (weeks) with those amazing athletes," Baldwin said of returning to finish out this season at Cal. "It's an amazing locker room up there, amazing group of young men who know how to do things right.
"It will never slip past me how much those men mean to me. I can’t wait again to go see them. My experience at Cal was amazing."
Baldwin offered thank yous to everyone who has helped him along the way in his career, including Cal coach Justin Wilcox. "I'm a better coach now than I was in 2016 because of my experience. I learned so much from coach Wilcox and his leadership."
Before arriving at Cal in 2017 as the program’s only offensive coordinator in three seasons under Wilcox, Baldwin was a head coach for 10 seasons, one with Division II Central Washington and the next nine with Eastern Washington at the FCS level.
He was 95-35 over that decade, including 64-16 in conference play. He led EWU to an FCS national title in 2010 and five of his final seven teams won Big Sky championships.
"I’m so excited to be a head coach again," Baldwin said. "It still has to be right. The why's? The number one reason is the people. As hard it was to leave (Cal), this is an incredible opportunity. It’s right and it’s right now."
But Baldwin’s tenure at Cal has not produced offensive success. The Bears were last in the Pac-12 in scoring offense and total offense last season and are again this year.
The Bears’ three-season average of 23.1 points per game is the program’s worst since 1999 through 2001, when they scored at a 19.0 clip.
His contract at Cal was up after this season and there has been speculation over whether Wilcox would — or could afford to — retain Baldwin.
The Bears are projected to have 10 returning staters on offense next season, including their entire offensive line, quarterback Chase Garbers and running back Christopher Brown Jr.
So finding the right man to run the offense going forward will be a critical hire for Wilcox, whose defense will sustain significant offseason graduation losses.
Cal fans will see Baldwin again at Memorial Stadium next Sept. 12 when he brings the Cal Poly Mustangs to Berkeley to face the Bears.
Cal Poly was 3-8 this fall in coach Tim Walsh’s final season. He was 58-63 in 11 seasons.