Kent State University announced the hiring of Sean Lewis as its 22nd head football coach on Dec. 21, 2017. Lewis will also work with the Golden Flashes' quarterbacks.
Lewis brought an extensive coaching résumé to Kent State and has been one of the fastest-rising coaches in the nation over the last decade. He came to the Golden Flashes after serving as the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Dino Babers at Syracuse. Lewis’ background stretches from his four-year playing career at the University of Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez, to winning the 2015 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship as the co-offensive coordinator at Bowling Green.
That ascension led Lewis to becoming the youngest Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) head coach in the nation at the age of 31. That distinction was previously held by the University of Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley at age 34.
Lewis spent his previous six seasons alongside head coach Babers at Syracuse (2016-17), Bowling Green (2014-15) and Eastern Illinois (2012-13).
“We are thrilled to bring Sean to Kent State,” Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen said. “Sean brings an innovative style of football to Kent State with an offensive system that is proven in the MAC. We are confident Sean can build broad support and engagement in our program along with competitive success.”
In 2017, Syracuse put up 40 or more points in three games and knocked off defending national champion Clemson 27-24 on Oct. 13. Syracuse’s offense averaged 456.3 yards and 24.4 first downs per game.
Those numbers were fueled by a fast-paced offense that led the nation in offensive snaps per game (87.8). Wide receiver Steve Ishmael broke the single-season program records for catches (105) and yards (1,347), earned second-team All-America honors and was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Wide receiver Ervin Philips earned All-ACC Second Team honors and was named Walter Camp Connecticut Player of the Year after making 89 catches for 904 yards.
During Lewis’ first season with the Orange in 2016, its offense set or tied over 40 program records including most passing yards in a season (3,855). Syracuse quarterbacks ranked 11th in the nation in passing. Its 5,290 yards of total offense were the second most in program history.
In 2015, Bowling Green ranked fourth in the nation in total offense (546.8) and sixth in scoring offense (42.2 ypg). Lewis served as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Matt Johnson, that season’s MAC Offensive Player of the Year. Johnson finished second in the nation in both passing yards (4,946) and touchdowns (46). All-American wide receiver Roger Lewis finished second in the nation in receiving yards (1,544) and third in touchdown catches (16). One year earlier, the Bowling Green Falcons won a MAC East title and the Camellia Bowl.
Lewis coached tight ends and inside receivers at Eastern Illinois. The Panthers made the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs both seasons and reached the quarterfinals in 2013 with a 12-2 mark. Eastern Illinois’ offense was led by San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
A tight end and quarterback at Wisconsin, Lewis was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection under Alvarez. Current Wisconsin Badger head coach Paul Chryst served as his offensive coordinator and position coach.
Lewis’ coaching career began as the offensive coordinator for his alma mater, Richards High School in Illinois. Richards was led by veteran Gary Korhonen, who earned National High School Coach of the Year honors from both the National Football Hall of Fame and the National High School Coaches Association. Lewis transitioned to the college level in 2010 as tight ends coach at Division II Nebraska Omaha. He made his first MAC stop in 2011 as a graduate assistant for Akron.
Lewis earned a bachelor’s degree from Wisconsin in agricultural sciences in 2007. He and his wife, Sarah, have a son, Rory.