Oregon State is one of two power conference programs currently searching for a new head coach, but they may not have to look very far to find a new head coach for the Beavers program. The Pac-12 school has reportedly reached out to BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall, Utah State head coach Matt Wells, Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. The report tagging these coaches to the Oregon State coaching search comes from Jamie Newberg of Scout.com.
BYU’s Mendenhall started his coaching career at Oregon State, where he also played defensive back in 1986 and 1987. Mendenhall joined the coaching staff as a graduate assistant and coached the defensive line in 1989 through 1990 before making a couple of stops at lower level schools. He returned to Oregon State as a defensive line coach in 1995 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1996. Mendenhall again made a few more stops before landing at BYU as a defensive coordinator and, eventually, being named head coach of the Cougars in 2005. Mendenhall would bring a good defensive approach to the Oregon State program and may have a chance to land some talent he cannot lure to BYU for a variety of reasons. Mendenhall ha stumped for BYU to receive an invite to the Big 12, but taking a job offer from Oregon State would put him in a power conference. Mendenhall signed an extension with BYU in 2013 that runs through 2016, so there would be some sort of buyout involved if needed.
Wells has no direct ties to Oregon State. The former Utah State quarterback has been a part of the Utah State coaching staff since 2011, first as a quarterbacks coach, then an offensive coordinator and now head coach since 2013. Wells put together a very respectable coaching job this season by keeping Utah State in contention for the Mountain West Conference championship despite the losses of quarterbacks Chuckie Keeton (knee injury) and Darrell Garretson (wrist surgery). If not for Colorado State and Boise State, Wells would have been a worthy option for coach of the year honors out of the MWC.
Baldwin has led Eastern Washington, a powerhouse program in the FCS, to a 2010 national championship and two appearances in the FCS semifinals in 2012 and 2013. Baldwin’s Eagles are hosting a quarterfinal game against Illinois State this weekend on the blood-red turf. Eastern Washington’s only two losses this season have come on the road, at Northern Arizona and Pac-12 school (and Oregon State division foe) Washington. Eastern Washington has won at least 10 games in four of the last five seasons. Good coaches can be good coaches anywhere, so Baldwin should absolutely be on Oregon State’s radar.
Hoke, of course, was removed as head coach of Michigan this season. Hoke’s trends at Michigan were all bad since taking over the program after a successful stint at San Diego State. Would a step back to the west coast be a refreshing change of pace and environment for Hoke? There may be precedent in play here. A move to the Pac-12 sure worked out well for another former Michigan head coach. Rich Rodriguez was just named Pac-12 coach of the year this season and led Arizona to the Pac-12 Championship Game.