The 2014 FCS season kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET Aug. 23 with Eastern Washington playing host to Sam Houston State in the return of a home-and-home series between the two schools.
Neither team is a stranger to success. In the last four seasons alone, the EWU and SHSU programs have combined for 82 victories, five league titles and 48 league wins. Those have yielded three berths in the FCS Playoffs for both teams, with a total of 15 postseason victories -- eight by EWU and seven by SHSU.
Before kickoff Saturday, Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin will talk to us twice about one of the biggest regular-season FCS games in history as his Eagles look to beat the Bearkats for the first time.
1 – How did this game come about? How long ago?
It’s interesting because we did the home-and-home [with Sam Houston State] a few years back. But my AD was the first one to tell me about it, when he came to me and said, ‘What do you think of this?’ If it got approved by the NCAA – to me it was a no-brainer. We love the idea – what an opportunity. It was in March or April. We definitely didn’t know before Signing Day.
2 – What’s it say about your program that you were one of the teams approached to play in the FCS Kickoff?
I think we’ve continued to make strides to do good things – even great things – over years. It’s one thing to make a run and fall off, and that’s still hard to do. We feel like in the last four or five years, we’ve taken steps to be apart of a group that has taken it to another level. That was a big goal of ours when we got here – to be good for a decade. It’s been a collective effort to make this a playoff team each year.
3 – Is this the biggest regular season game for you at Eastern Washington?
Yeah [laughs], except if you talk about the games where you play [FBS teams] like Washington or Oregon State. But at our level, yeah this is huge. To me, I thought it was just as big last year when we played down there, it’s just different because now we’ll be in 80 million homes and starting the college football season. To me, the magnitude is the same in terms of some different things as last year. It’s just a totally different environment with it.
4 – How excited are the fans?
They are very excited. Sometimes they peak a little earlier than we do [with their excitement]. We get great support up here and everybody can’t wait.
5 – Have you treated this summer any differently knowing you were starting a week earlier than normal?
Not really. We’re on quarters so it’s always a little tricky because we’re in the middle of June taking finals and that stuff. It’s always a strange break there, but we just needed to start things a week earlier. Other than that, the other things we tweaked would’ve been done no matter what.