A record-breaking Eastern Washington University quarterback in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, Fred Salanoa will to his alma mater to coordinate Eastern's offense, new head coach Aaron Best announced Friday (March 3). Besides serving as offensive coordinator, Salanoa will also coach tight ends.
"I'm very excited to be back," said Salanoa, who was an injury redshirt in 1999 when his Eagle career began. "Like they all say, it's nice to be back home. This is where I played and graduated from, and I'm just grateful for the opportunity Coach Best, our president and our athletic director has given to me to be a part of this great program."
"I had the ability to play with Fred, and we enjoyed our time together in the huddle – when we huddled," said Best, who played center for EWU from 1996-99. "We looked each other in the eye quite a bit. We look forward to creating that here as coaches."
A native Hawaiian who transferred to Eastern from Snow Junior College in Utah, Salanoa comes to Eastern with 14 highly-successful seasons at the high school level and some experience coaching collegiately. He is a 2002 graduate of EWU.
"The expectations are high here because of the success under Beau Baldwin and what he brought to the program," said Salanoa. "I'm super excited about the future with (quarterback) Gage Gubrud and five starting offensive linemen back. We have a lot of good receivers and running backs returning, so there is potential to continue to be on top of the Big Sky Conference and set that bar high for the program to be competitive in the nation."
He was head coach for 13 seasons at his high school alma mater, Radford High School in Hawaii. Before he left the program in 2015 to spend more time with his family, he led the Rams to the Division II State Championship with a 30-16 victory over Kapaa on Nov. 20, 2015, at Aloha Stadium.
In 2015, the Rams won the Oahu Interscholastic Association's D-II regular-season and playoff championships and finished off a 13-0 season by charging back from a 10-point deficit to beat Kappa in the state final. The Warriors were the Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion Warriors in the state final.
In his 13 seasons at Radford, where he graduated from in 1996, Salanoa compiled an 81-53 record, including marks of 73-27 in D-II and 8-26 in D-I. Interestingly, Salanoa was a water boy on the Radford team in 1981 that defeated Saint Louis 14-2 in the Oahu Prep Bowl (the precursor to the state tournament).
His Radford teams won three conference championships while he was there. In 2016, he served as associate head coach and passing game coordinator at Punahou High School in Honolulu.
His collegiate experience came working at University of Hawaii camps from 2003-2007 where he worked closely with head coach June Jones and wide receivers coach Ron Lee. He also received a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Chaminade University in 2004.
Salanoa played in 2000 and 2001 for the first two EWU teams coached by Paul Wulff. He helped Eastern to a 13-9 overall record, including an 8-7 record in Big Sky Conference games. Eastern finished tied for second in 2000 (5-3), then was fifth in 2001 (3-4).
"It means the world to be back and coach collegiate football under Coach Best, my former teammate," added Salanoa. "I'm excited to be surrounded by such good men on the football field and learn from them at the same time. I'm ecstatic to see familiar faces back on campus and be a part of the Eastern Washington football program again, and hopefully continue their success."
He broke four regular season school records in 11 games as a senior, including 3,057 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, in addition to single season completions with 228 and total offense with 3,157. By comparison, the current Eastern record (including playoffs) is 5,160 passing yards (also a FCS record) set last season by Gage Gubrud, who Salanoa will coach in 2017. The TD record is now 55 and set by Vernon Adams Jr. in 2013. Gubrud also owns those records for completions with 386 completions and total offense with 5,766 yards last season.
Despite playing just 24 career games, Salanoa finished his career as the second-leading quarterback in Eastern history with 4,973 yards an average of 207.2 that ranked third at the time all-time in school history. He finished the 2001 season with a passing efficiency rating of 143.7 that ranked fourth-best in school history at the time.
He became the first Eastern quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards in three-straight games (career-high 376 versus Connecticut, 313 versus Weber State and 353 versus Montana). The Eagles upset NCAA Football Bowl Division opponent UConn and also defeated Weber State, but fell in two overtimes to the Grizzlies. He had a total of five 300-yard performances in his career, with a long pass of 70 yards for a touchdown to Lamont Brightful in 2000 versus Sacramento State.
He had an injury-free senior season, but that wasn't the case his first two years in the program. He started Eastern's first three games in 1999 before having the season wiped out with a knee injury. He subsequently received the season back as an injury redshirt, then started the first four games in 2000. A concussion knocked him out of one game and cost him another start, but he returned to start the final five games of the year. He was 13-10 as a starter (1-2 in 1999, 5-4 in 2000, 7-4 in 2001).
Salanoa earned second team All-Big Sky Conference honors in 2001, and twice was on the Big Sky All-Academic team. He played in the 2002 Paradise Bowl following the season.
Heavily recruited out of Snow, he signed a letter of intent in December of 1998 and began attending EWU the following January. He was signed thanks partly to former Eastern assistant Pete Kwiatkowski, who was defensive coordinator at Snow in 1997 and is now defensive coordinator at the University of Washington.
Salanoa split time at Snow in 1998 with former Weber State quarterback Josh Heupel, who would go on to lead Oklahoma to the national championship in 2000. Salanoa completed 53-of-111 passes for 724 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, and rushed 25 times for 188 yards. Snow was 8-2 and scored 445 points in 1998.
As a freshman, Salanoa was the top passer in the junior college ranks with over 3,400 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was the Mineral Water Bowl Offensive MVP and a first team All-WSFL selection.
Salanoa was born on May 17, 1978, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He earned his therapeutic recreation degree at EWU, and was an intern in the summer of 2002 in the recreation department of the Hawaii State Penitentiary.
Married while a student at Eastern, Salanoa and his wife Malevine have seven daughters (Xeryah, 16; Xevani, 12; Xehlia, 10; Xeyana, 9; Xenesa, 5; Xenyah, 3; Xenyla, 3). The collection of children are known as the "X-Tribe." Xeryah was born at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Wash., while Fred and Malevine were at EWU, and Xenyah and Xenyla are twins.
His brother, Alan, was offensive coordinator at Snow when Fred was there, and went on to coach at Idaho State while Fred was playing at EWU. Their brother, Thor, played fullback and linebacker for Brigham Young, helping BYU win the national title in 1984.
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