Lewis offers an antidote to SDSU's recent history of vanilla offenses as he brings a history of offenses with hypertempo and prolific production.
San Diego State finished lower than No. 100 nationally in scoring offense, passing offense and total offense this season. The Aztecs finished 4-8 and coach Brady Hoke announced his retirement. San Diego State hasn't finished in the Top 75 nationally in scoring offense since 2017.
Lewis' history as a head coach, playcaller and willingness to stretch the field were all appealing to San Diego State. Lewis had significant demand in both the head-coaching market and the high-end offensive coordinator market during this cycle, per sources, despite his demotion from playcaller late in the season at Colorado.
Lewis, 37, led Kent State to two bowl games in five years, doubling the school's total of bowl appearances in its history. He also delivered the school's first bowl win, beating Jordan Love-led Utah State 51-41 in the 2019 Frisco Bowl.
Lewis' offenses at Kent State were among the most explosive in the sport during his five seasons. In the conference-only 2020 season, Kent finished No. 1 nationally in yards per game (606.5) and points per game (49.8). Lewis' teams at Kent State were known for wide splits, but they also ran efficiently and effectively when the program's personnel dictated they could do so.
San Diego State went into the coaching market looking for some sizzle, as it had been coached by someone with a defensive background since 2009. While San Diego State became a consistent winner with a blue-collar image, the program often lacked dynamic offenses in recent years.
San Diego State, which has been vocal about seeking a conference promotion, opened Snapdragon Stadium in 2022. The stadium cost more than $300 million and is considered one of the key pieces for athletic director JD Wicker to help the Aztecs become part of a power conference.
San Diego State officials hope that the Lewis' teams can create excitement to demand a full stadium, as the Aztecs lost eight of their final 10 games this year and support waned.
Lewis left the head-coaching job at Kent after the 2022 season for Colorado's offensive coordinator job in part to help position himself for a better head-coaching job.
Lewis finished 24-31 at Kent State, but the challenges there included dealing with a nonconference schedule that included three power-conference road games every year. In 2022, for example, Kent State played road games at Washington, Oklahoma and Georgia in September. In 2021 it was Texas A&M, Iowa and Maryland.
He found success in the MAC with an 18-10 league record in his final four years there.
Before Kent State, Lewis worked as the co-offensive coordinator at Syracuse and also worked on staffs for Dino Babers at Bowling Green and Eastern Illinois.
He played collegiately at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez and then-offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, playing both quarterback and tight end.