Last December, Kent State head coach Sean Lewis made a decision which sent shockwaves around the program.
After five seasons running the show at Kent State, Lewis stepped down from the head coaching role to pursue an offensive coordinator gig on Deion Sanders’ staff at Colorado. Now, Lewis is back in a head coaching role. On Tuesday, The Action Network’s breaking news reporter Brett McMurphy stated Lewis will be the next head coach at San Diego State, replacing the recently retired Brady Hoke — another former MAC coach, who led Ball State to 12 wins in 2008.
Lewis earned his first head coaching gig at Kent State, serving as the Golden Flashes’ frontman from 2018 to 2022. In his second season, he clinched bowl eligibility despite a 3-6 start by winning his final three contests. Lewis went on to make Kent State history, stunning Utah State 51-41 in the Frisco Bowl for the Golden Flashes’ first and only bowl victory in program history.
In the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, Kent State only played four games but recorded a 3-1 record and ranked first nationally in scoring offense at 49.8 points per game. For an idea of how far that unit improved, in 2017, the year before Lewis arrived, the Golden Flashes’ were second-to-last in scoring offense. The offensive success only continued as Lewis progressed through his tenure. In 2021, Kent State ranked fifth in total offense and third in rushing offense, qualifying for the MAC Championship Game and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
An injury-riddled Kent State missed a bowl game in 2022 but still finished No. 22 in the country in rushing and 42nd in total offense in Lewis’ final season before his departure to Colorado. He left Kent State ranked third all-time in wins and remains the only Golden Flashes coach in history to claim multiple bowl appearances.
In 2023, Lewis generated significant attention during Colorado’s early-season popularity during a 3-1 start, as the Buffaloes drew 7.3 million viewers vs. TCU, 8.7 million viewers vs. Nebraska, 9.3 million viewers vs. Colorado State, and 10.0 million viewers vs. Oregon — four of the most seven watched college football games through Week 4.
Lewis was later stripped of play-calling duties by Sanders after eight games. Colorado’s offense declined after this move, dropping from 32.1 points per game to 20.3 points per game — finishing 0-4 in its final four contests.
He is expected to bring his signature up-tempo offense to San Diego State, one that heavily involves RPO concepts and quick quarterback reads — a scheme known as the “Flash Fast offense” during his time at Kent State. Lewis’ creative offensive schemes should be very welcome at a San Diego State program that hasn’t ranked above 78th in scoring offense since 2017 — falling below 100th in four of the last six seasons.
Lewis could be making frequent trips back to MAC country in the near future, as San Diego State is currently scheduled to play at a MAC campus in each of the next four seasons — 2024 at Central Michigan, 2025 at Northern Illinois, 2026 at Toledo, and 2027 at Eastern Michigan.