Eastern Washington football coach Aaron Best has reached deep into the Eagles’ past – and his own – to find a new offensive coordinator.
Former Eagle Fred Salanoa, a record-setting quarterback who played with Best in Cheney in 1999 and 2000, also will coach the Eagle tight ends, Best announced Friday.
“I had the ability to play with Fred, and we enjoyed our time together in the huddle – when we huddled,” said Best, who played center for EWU from 1996-2000. “We looked each other in the eye quite a bit.
“We look forward to creating that here as coaches,” said Best, who took over for Beau Baldwin on Jan. 21.
Later on Friday, Best named Central Washington assistant Jay Dumas as wide receivers coach. Dumas replaces Nicholas Edwards, who joined Baldwin at California.
Best has two more vacancies to fill: running backs coach and offensive line coach.
The 38-year-old Salanoa has never formally coached at the collegiate level. His sole collegiate experience came while working at University of Hawaii camps from 2003-2007 under coach June Jones and assistant Ron Lee.
He has spent most of the past 15 years coaching high school football in his native Hawaii.
That’s not unprecedented for the Eagles. Salanoa’s predecessor, Troy Taylor had spent 15 years coaching high school ball until he arrived in Cheney last spring. However, Taylor was a position coach at Colorado and California early in his career.
“I’m very excited to be back,” said Salanoa, a transfer from Utah’s Snow College who was an injury redshirt in 1999 when his EWU career began.
Salanoa broke four regular-season school records in 11 games as a senior in 2001, including 3,057 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, in addition to single-season completions with 228 and total offense with 3,157.
By comparison, the current Eastern record (including playoffs) is 5,160 passing yards (also a FCS record) set last season by Gage Gubrud, whom Salanoa will coach this fall.
“Like they all say, it’s nice to be back home,” Salanoa said. “This is where I played and graduated from, and I’m just grateful for the opportunity Coach Best, our president and our athletic director has given to me to be a part of this great program.”
Married while a student at Eastern, Salanoa and his wife Malevine have seven daughters (Xeryah, 16; Xevani, 12; Xehlia, 10; Xeyana, 9; Xenesa, 5; Xenyah, 3; Xenyla, 3). The children are known as the “X-Tribe.”
Salanoa earned a degree in therapeutic recreation from EWU. He also has a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Chaminade University in 2004.
Dumas, who played at Washington State from 1992-96, coached former EWU receivers coach Junior Edwards at Montana State. He has spent the last three seasons at Central.
From 2007-14, Dumas was the offensive coordinator at Davis High School in Yakima where he helped the offense for the Pirates set numerous school records.
One of the All-State players he coached was future EWU All-American Cooper Kupp, who as a senior in 2011 had 60 receptions for 1,059 yards (17.7 per catch) and 18 touchdowns, and scored 22 total touchdowns to set a school record.
His younger brother Ketner will be a junior linebacker for the Eagles this fall.
“It’s nice to have familiarity with a couple of the players who are here,” Dumas said. “Certainly I had very little to do with how they got here – they came to Eastern on their own merit.”
Dumas was the running backs and wide receivers coach at Montana State between 2002-06. During his time with the Bobcats, they won the Big Sky Conference title in 2003 and 2005.
From 1999-2002, he coached at Western Washington University before the school dropped the program. He coached tight ends and running backs at Western, and also assisted with team study table and summer camps.
Dumas played four years from 1992-96 as a wide receiver for the Cougars. He finished his career with 96 catches for 920 yards and two touchdowns, including 50 grabs for 463 yards as a senior. He also returned 90 career punts for 705 yards (7.8 average). Dumas was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 Conference choice as junior.
Dumas is a graduate of Curtis High School in Tacoma, the same school that graduated Best and EWU defensive line coach Brian Strandley.
Previously, on Feb. 1, Best announced the hiring of former Oklahoma State assistant Bodie Reeder, who will be the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach but not the offensive coordinator.
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