New San Diego State coach Sean Lewis promises AztecFast offense in the tradition of Air Coryell

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Sean Lewis talks a mile a minute, which might be how fast the San Diego State Aztecs will play now that he’s their head coach.

Lewis used his introductory news conference Wednesday to invoke the Air Coryell offense that was developed decades ago by one of his predecessors and said fans better buy tickets now because they’ll be hard to get once the Aztecs start playing the high-tempo, no-huddle offense that he favors.

“We’re excited to build on this wonderful tradition and take it to new heights by refining it and making it our own in this AztecFast style of play so we can go and have a lot of fun in the process of doing it,” Lewis said, offering an update on the FlashFast offense he developed in his five seasons as head coach at Kent State.

He’ll get a five-year deal with an annual salary of just more than $1.7 million.

Lewis spent this season as offensive coordinator at Colorado, where first-year coach Deion Sanders took away his play-calling duties late in the season.

Lewis is being tasked with revitalizing an Aztecs program that plummeted to the bottom of the Mountain West and regularly played in front of thousands of empty seats at 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium, which opened in 2022.

Lewis replaces Brady Hoke, who finished the season after the school announced his retirement with two games to go. Hoke had three seasons left on his contract when the school announced his retirement. The defensive-minded Hoke failed to develop potent offenses, even when the Aztecs won a school-record 12 games two seasons ago.

Don Coryell was SDSU’s coach from 1961-72 before taking his pass-happy game to the NFL, where it took off with the Dan Fouts-led San Diego Chargers, who played at the stadium that was torn down to make room for Snapdragon Stadium as the first phase of a campus expansion.

Lewis said Coryell “revolutionized the game of football and how we throw the football today, because of his influence and his impact on the game. And I’m looking forward to bringing that excitement, that brand of football, where we’re lighting up the scoreboard, where we’re playing fast, where we’re being balanced but there’s a brand and an energy to what we bring.”

Lewis went 24-31 as head coach at Kent State from 2018-2022 and led the Golden Flashes to two bowl games. He was co-offensive coordinator at Syracuse and Bowling Green before moving to Kent State.

Lewis was demoted into a co-offensive coordinator role when Sanders promoted former NFL coach Pat Shurmur in early November. The switch came after a loss at UCLA in which Sanders’ quarterback son was under constant pressure. Shurmur called plays from the booth down to the field, where Lewis relayed them.

After a promising 3-0 start, Colorado finished 4-8 overall and last in the Pac-12 at 1-8.

“Coach felt like there needed to be a change, he made the change, and for me, it’s always been rooted in the players and being a professional and serving them,” Lewis said. “I was very proud of the way we finished out, especially with a true freshman getting the start there at the end and making sure he was prepared.”

Shedeur Sanders did not play in the season finale at Utah due to injuries and was replaced by Ryan Staub. The Buffs lost 23-17.

Athletic director J.D. Wicker said he “talked to some folks at Colorado who felt very comfortable with Sean Lewis as a football coach and as a head coach, and encouraged me to have him high on the list and hire him. Sometimes you figure out you have different philosophies about different things, but as Sean said it was a good experience for him and you take something from everything you do.”


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