|College:||Eastern Washington '01|
|Position:||Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line/Academic Coord.|
Aaron Best enters his 16th year as an Eagle, including four years at Eastern (1996-99) as an All-America center and 11 previous seasons as an assistant coach (2000-2006, 2008-2011). An academic honor student as an undergraduate at Eastern, Best also handles the team’s academic coordinator duties.
As offensive coordinator for the third season in 2011, the Eagles ranked first in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in passing with an average of 368.5 per game, and were sixth overall in total offense (447.4) and 22nd in scoring (32.4). The offense featured four All-Americans, including center Chris Powers, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and wide receivers Nicholas Edwards and Greg Herd. Mitchell and Edwards were consensus All-Americans, and Mitchell won the Walter Payton Award given by The Sports Network to the top player in the FCS.
However, Best’s job as offensive line coach was made significantly harder when a trio of starters were lost early in the season because of injuries, as well as three starts missed by Powers. In all, 10 players started along the offensive line – including a converted tight end and a converted defensive lineman – and only one offensive lineman (senior Gabriel Jackson) started all 11 games. Jackson and tackle Will Post earned honorable mention All-Big Sky honors in 2011.
During EWU’s 2010 NCAA Division I championship season, Best helped Eastern’s offense rank 22nd in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in yards per game (397.1) and 18th in scoring (31.5). The Eagle offense featured a trio of All-Americans, including running back Taiwan Jones, wide receiver Brandon Kaufman and Powers.
Four of the offensive linemen he coached earned All-Big Sky honors – Powers (first team), Jackson (second team), senior guard Nikolai Myers (honorable mention) and freshman guard Steven Forgette (honorable mention). Eastern quarterbacks were sacked only 24 times, including just seven times in four playoff games.
In 2009, his first season as offensive coordinator, the Eagles finished ranked in the top 10 in four offensive categories in the FCS, including passing (3rd, 321.3), total offense (4th, 462.2), scoring (8th, 33.7) and passing efficiency (4th, 154.5). Senior quarterback Matt Nichols, senior tight end Nathan Overbay and Jones all won All-America honors and first team All-Big Sky honors.
He coached a trio of All-Big Sky Conference offensive linemen in 2009 – senior tackle Chris Thomas, senior guard Ryan Forney and Powers – who all earned honorable mention accolades. In 2008, three earned honorable mention as senior center Charlie Wulff was joined by Thomas and sophomore tackle Brice Leahy.
Best spent the 2007 season as an offensive line specialist for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. Best helped the Argonauts win the Eastern Division championship with an 11-7 record before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Although Toronto was last in the league in total offense, Best’s offensive line ranked third in fewest sacks allowed with 40. Eastern Hall of Fame member Bill Diedrick Jr., was also an offensive coach for the Argonauts.
Best was a guest coach at Toronto’s training camp in May 2007, and then was asked to return as a full-time coach in July. In 2006, he attended the Calgary Stampeders training camp as a guest coach to offensive coordinator Steve Buratto, who graduated from the University of Idaho and spent the 2007 season coaching in Toronto.
In his previous stint at Eastern, Best had the opportunity to coach two All-Americans in the 2004 season and another in 2005. He was the school’s primary offensive line coach from 2002-2006 after previously helping coach that unit as a graduate assistant in 2001 and as a student assistant in 2000.
Matt Alfred earned All-America honors in 2005, and he was recognized on the All-Big Sky squad along with Kraig Sigler and Rocky Hanni. All five of Eastern’s starting offensive linemen earned All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2004, including first team selections Michael Roos and Rocky Hanni. Both players went on to earn All-America honors, with Roos also being selected as the Lineman of the Year by I-AA.Org.
Roos played in the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, and was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. He became the highest NFL draft choice in school history when he was chosen in the second round – 41st overall – by the Tennessee Titans in 2005. Including 35 starts to end his EWU career, Roos enters the 2011 season having made 179 consecutive starts as an offensive tackle. His last 144 starts have come as a Titan (two AFC playoff games, 112 regular season games, 29 pre-season contests and as a starter in his first-ever Pro Bowl on Feb. 8, 2009).
“I was very lucky to have the best offensive line coach possible in Aaron Best,” praised Roos in response to having his jersey retired at EWU on Oct. 24, 2009. “He taught all of us the meaning of hard work and perseverance.”
Eastern’s offensive lines helped the Eagles rank fourth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in total offense in both 2004 and 2005. In 2005, the Eagles averaged 477.8 yards per game, and were 14th in scoring (35.0). A year earlier, the Eagles averaged 475.5 yards and 37.5 points per game to rank sixth.
In 2003, Eastern averaged 380.0 yards per game and ranked 21st in the FCS in passing offense (247.3). In 2002, the Eagles finished third nationally in passing offense (317.6) and were sixth in total offense (447.6), a year after leading the FCS in total offense (514.5) and scoring (41.9) in 2001.
Best started 22-straight games at center for Eastern in 1998 and 1999, earning honorable mention All-Big Sky honors as a junior and first team honors as a senior. He also earned honorable mention All-America honors his final season.
An outstanding student with a 3.3 grade point average, as a senior he was selected to the CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII team and was selected to the FCS Athletic Directors Academic All-Star Team. Twice he was selected to the Big Sky All-Academic team. He received his bachelor’s degree in social science from EWU in 2001 and is currently working toward his master’s degree in physical education.
He was Eastern’s long-snapper for four seasons and was a backup lineman in 1997 when Eastern led the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision in total offense (505.6 yards per game). That team finished 12-2 and advanced to the FCS “Final Four.” The Eagles were 31-16 in the four seasons Best played for the Eagles, and the Eagles had a 1,000-yard rusher each year. In all, Eastern has had a 1,000-yard rusher in 10 of the 15 seasons Best has been at EWU.
Best graduated in 1996 from Curtis High School in Tacoma, Wash., where he had a 3.75 grade point average. He was co-captain his senior season as Curtis won the State AAA championship. His brother Tyler Best was a starting catcher for the Lewis-Clark State baseball team, which won its second straight NAIA World Series title in 2003.
Best was born Jan. 27, 1978, in Tacoma, Wash. He and the former Kim Walker were married on July 15, 2007, in Everett, Wash. Their first child, Tank William Best, was born April 12, 2008. Tank weighed in at 10 pounds, seven ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. They had their second child, Tenli Dakotah, in July 2010.