Cal Poly hires from within to fill head football coach vacancy

Paul Wulff

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

Cal Poly on Tuesday replaced its departing head football coach with a lead assistant from his staff.

President Jeffrey Armstrong and Athletic Director Don Oberhelman announced the hire of Paul Wulff as Cal Poly’s new head coach. For the last three years, Wulff served as the Mustangs’ offensive line coach and running game coordinator.

Additionally, last summer, former Mustang head coach Beau Baldwin elevated Wulff to the position of associate head coach.

Last week, Baldwin resigned abruptly to take the job of offensive coordinator at Arizona State. Baldwin, previously a national champion head coach at the Football Championship Subdivision level in which Cal Poly competes, went 4-21 during his Mustang tenure. Each of the past two seasons Baldwin’s teams finished with 2-9 overall records and 1-7 conference records.

Following Baldwin’s departure, Cal Poly promptly promoted Wulff to head coach, rather than conducting an extensive search for a new leader of the football program. Despite the Mustangs’ 4-21 record over the past three seasons, Oberhelman says continuity is key.

“Although the record may not have been indicative of this, our team was markedly better this past season, and with many key contributors returning and getting healthy, I’m excited for what the 2023 season holds,” Oberhelman said in a statement. “The president and I both felt strongly that continuity would be the key, and Coach Wulff will continue to work with the current coaching staff to further develop this team.”  

Wulff formerly served as head coach at Eastern Washington and Washington State. Wulff compiled a 53-40 record at Eastern Washington and a 9-40 record at Washington State.

Eastern Washington, where Baldwin, too, coached and won his national championship, competes at Cal Poly’s level. Both programs are currently members of the Big Sky Conference.

Washington State, like Baldwin’s new employer Arizona State, is a member of the PAC-12 Conference. The PAC-12 is one of college football’s top conferences and part of the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Wulff has coached at the collegiate level for 28 years, 12 of which he spent as a head coach. Wulff has also coached briefly in the National Football League, having served as a senior offensive assistant for the San Francisco 49ers.

“Personally, this position as head football coach at Cal Poly is one that I and my family have dreamed about for several years,” Wulff said in a statement. “Having an opportunity to lead a football program that offers elite academics and a commitment from administration, alumni and boosters that will allow for our coaches and student-athletes to compete on the field of play for conference and national championships. Currently, Cal Poly is one of the few universities in the western United States that offers these opportunities.”