×

Washington State hires Rolovich away from UH

By TIM BOOTH

The Associated Press

Nick Rolovich has left behind the beaches of Oahu for the wheat fields of the Palouse and the chance to see if his pass-happy, high-scoring style can work at Washington State.

Rolovich was hired by Washington State on Tuesday, completing a whirlwind week for the Cougars that saw Mike Leach depart for Mississippi State after eight seasons. It didn’t take long for the Cougars to settle on Rolovich as Leach’s replacement, giving the 40-year-old a chance to lead a Power Five program.

“Nick Rolovich is a genuine person, a program builder, an innovator and the exact fit to lead Cougar football,” Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. “Coach Rolovich is committed to academic achievement and developing every aspect of our student-athletes. He has a vision of taking Cougar football on a path to win championships.”

Rolovich agreed to a five-year contract that is expected to pay about $3 million per season. He will be introduced at a news conference on Thursday.

Rolovich has been in charge at the University of Hawaii for the past four seasons and led the Rainbow Warriors to the Mountain West Conference West Division title this season. UH went 10-5 overall, losing to Boise State in the MWC title game but rebounding to beat BYU in the Hawaii Bowl.

Rolovich oversaw a significant turnaround with his alma mater. When he took over at Hawaii in 2016, the former Warriors quarterback inherited a program that had won 11 total games in its first four seasons in the Mountain West. He won at least seven games in three of his four seasons.

“The excitement is real and it’s honest,” Rolovich said. “Most recently what Coach Leach has built gives us a high starting point. I appreciate him as a friend and what he has done to build the program. We are looking forward to learning more about the program, the history, the anecdotes and the legends of WSU football.”

The turnaround Rolovich produced at Hawaii was similar to what Leach did with the Cougars. Washington State was 9-40 before Leach arrived. The Cougars went 55-47 with six bowl appearances in Leach’s eight seasons.

Rolovich went 28-27 in four seasons with the Warriors, including three bowl appearances. He signed a two-year contract extension with Hawaii last January and made more than $600,000 in 2019.

Last season, the Rainbow Warriors went 2-1 against the Pac-12 with wins over Arizona and Oregon State but a loss on the road to Washington. Getting the better of the Huskies will be one of Rolovich’s priorities as Washington State has lost seven straight to Washington.

Meanwhile in Manoa, the search for Rolovich’s replacement is underway. Among the names being thrown around on social media are UH offensive coordinator Brian Smith and quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzmann — assuming Rolo’s former Warrior teammates don’t follow him to Pullman.

Regardless of who gets the job, quarterback Chevan Cordeiro is confident the Rainbow Warriors will be just fine.

“Me and my brothers in there, we’re still focused. We’re glued together,” Cordeiro, who is the likely starter next season after Cole McDonald declared for the NFL draft, told KHON2 on Tuesday. “We already know what we gotta do and it’s just us and we’re keeping our circle tight.”