YAKIMA, Wash. -- Given Ian Shoemaker’s remarkable success during his five-year tenure as head football coach at Central Washington University, school officials knew they’d be looking for a new coach at some point.
They probably would’ve liked a little more time before that happened.
In a surprising move Monday, Shoemaker stepped down as the Wildcats coach to become the offensive coordinator at Eastern Washington University.
“It happened really fast,” Shoemaker said when reached late Monday afternoon. “When you look at the level of play, the type of kids they (Eastern) recruit and the national success they’ve had, that breeds an opportunity that was hard to pass up.
“(Change) is the nature of this (coaching business), especially if you’re a competitive person and want to challenge yourself.”
Central wasted no time, naming offensive coordinator Christopher Fisk as Shoemaker’s replacement.
“Everyone is really happy with where our program is at and sticking here is the right decision,” Shoemaker said of Fisk’s hire. “They may need someone to coach the quarterbacks but mostly the staff will be the same.”
Shoemaker’s teams compiled a 38-13 record, including an 11-0 regular season in 2017, and have won back-to-back GNAC championships. The Wildcats reached the Super Region 4 playoffs in 2017 but fell to eventual NCAA Division II champion West Texas A&M in the playoffs.
Last season, Central finished 8-3 and just missed another postseason berth when it lost to Azusa Pacific in its season finale.
At Eastern, Shoemaker will replace Bodie Reeder, who left to become offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of North Texas.
“We are very fortunate and excited to bring a coach of Ian’s caliber into our program,” Eastern head coach Aaron Best said in a release from that school. “He has a proven track record at multiple levels of football and we are privileged to get him on board this late in the game.”
Under Shoemaker, Central averaged 37.3 points and 447.3 yards per game and he’s excited to build on what the Eagles have done in recent years, including reaching the FCS championship game last season,
“I love what coach Best is doing there ... and I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” said Shoemaker, who is planning to be at Eastern by the end of the week with spring practices just a month away. “The type of football coach Best does mirrors what we do here. I need to get there and build a playbook around what they’ve done in past and what I can bring from Central.”
Despite his opportunity, the decision to leave the Wildcats family was tough.
“It’s really hard,” he said. “I talked to the kids today. It was very difficult. We’ve invested everything from the players to the coaching staff to get to this point. I am excited to see how it grows and goes from here.”