CWU Selects Blaine Bennett as New Head Football CoachPosted: Updated:
ELLENSBURG, Wash - Blaine Bennett, who spent six seasons as the head coach at Western Oregon University during the late 1990s, will return to the Pacific Northwest as he has been selected as the 22nd head football coach in the history of Central Washington University, director of athletics Jack Bishop announced on Friday morning.
Bennett, 43, replaces Beau Baldwin, who resigned January 4 after just one season at the helm of the CWU program to accept the same post at Eastern Washington University.
"I feel that the search committee did an extensively thorough job in a short amount of time," Bishop explained. "Having gone through this process last year, we had candidates from last year and a few new ones from this year whom we needed to evaluate. All three candidates did an excellent job, and all would have been good choices for Central Washington University, but Blaine seemed to separate himself with each of the groups he met with.
"Each candidate brought a particular strength to the table, but I believe that Blaine brought the whole package," Bishop continued. "I look forward to him transitioning the football program back into Great Northwest Athletic Conference play for years to come."
Bennett returns to his native Washington after spending the past seven years coaching in the Midwest. Six of those seasons were spent as an assistant coach at the NCAA Division I-FBS level in the Big Ten Conference, including five campaigns as the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Purdue University, where he coached current Chicago Bears quarterback Kyle Orton. Bennett spent the 2006 season as the assistant head coach and wide receivers coach at Michigan State University before returning to Lafayette, Ind., for the 2007 season, where he served as the head coach at Lafayette Jefferson High School.
Prior to his stints in the Midwest, Bennett spent nine seasons at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Ore., including the final six (1995-2000) as head coach. While coaching the Wolves, Bennett aided the university's transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II levels, improving the program from a 2-7 campaign in his rookie head coaching season of 1995 into a NAIA playoff team and Columbia Football Association champion two years later. He finished his six-year stint at WOU with a 27-32 head coaching record.
The Bennett name in Ellensburg is a familiar one to locals, as father Blaine "Shorty" Bennett was the head football coach at Ellensburg High School during the 1970s, where he led the Bulldogs to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) Class AA state championship in 1973. The younger Bennett split his childhood between Ellensburg and Walla Walla, graduating from Walla Walla High School in 1983. He then spent three seasons with the University of Idaho program and two more at Whitworth College in Spokane, playing for Dennis Erickson and for his father, respectively. During his two-year career at Whitworth, he completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 3,762 yards and 23 touchdowns. Bennett is a 1987 graduate of Whitworth with a degree in secondary education and math, and he also owns a Master's degree in physical education from Washington State University (1990).
Bennett will be joined in Ellensburg by his wife, Melissa, sons Blaine John (16) and Matthew (13), and daughter Brianne (15).