PULLMAN – Jeff Schmedding, a Spokane native and Eastern Washington graduate who spent the past two years at Auburn, is set to become the next defensive coordinator at Washington State, according to a report Sunday from ESPN’s Pete Thamel.
Schmedding replaces Brian Ward, who coordinated WSU’s defense for one season and left the program in early December to take the DC role at Arizona State.
Schmedding served as Auburn’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach in 2022. He finished out the year on the Tigers’ staff after coach Bryan Harsin was fired at midseason – Schmedding was the only assistant from the Harsin regime to stay on board throughout the season. Auburn hired Hugh Freeze as its head coach in late November after a 5-7 season, and Schmedding was let go.
Schmedding, 44, graduated from University High at Spokane. He coordinated the Titans’ defense and coached linebackers from 2002-03 after graduating from EWU. Schmedding worked at his alma mater from 2004-18, helping EWU to eight Big Sky titles, 10 FCS playoff appearances and an FCS national championship in 2010.
He earned his first fulltime assistant job in 2007 as EWU’s safeties coach, then tutored linebackers for the next two years before becoming special teams coordinator, a position he held from 2010-14. Schmedding was in charge of the Eagles’ defense from 2015-18.
Boise State hired Schmedding as its defensive coordinator in 2019. He led the Broncos’ defense for two years under Harsin. Boise State won the Mountain West championship in 2019 and finished the year with a top-25 scoring defense nationally at 20.6 points per game.
Harsin accepted the head coaching job at Auburn in 2021 and Schmedding tagged along. He tutored linebackers for a season, then captured a coordinator job after DC Derek Mason left the program to take the same gig at Oklahoma State.
With Schmedding on board, it appears WSU has completed its 2023 staff. The Cougs made two hires last week – offensive coordinator Ben Arbuckle, out of Western Kentucky, and edge rushers coach Frank Maile, from Boise State.
WSU coach Jake Dickert has stressed the importance of recruiting Washington, and hiring coaches who are familiar with WSU and this region. Schmedding adds local flavor to the Cougs’ staff and should boost the program’s recruiting efforts in its home state.
Dickert told reporters last month that WSU won’t make wholesale changes to its defense in 2023.
Ward took over a 4-2-5 system that was installed by Dickert, formerly the team’s DC, in early 2020. The Cougs’ defense had a resurgent season under Dickert in 2021. Ward, who shares defensive philosophies with Dickert, added some wrinkles in 2022, but WSU stayed consistent with its defensive approach, and the unit had another solid season.
The Cougs will retain their defensive identity and scheme under Schmedding, who also operates a 4-2-5 system that makes good use of blitzes and emphasizes takeaways.
“We’re going to run this defense,” Dickert said in early December. “It’s a defense I believe in. We’re going to stay true to the core of what it is. So, not necessarily finding someone who runs it, but wants to come in here and learn, and do it.”