Washington State officially announces Rolovich as new head football coach

CJ Elleby and Isaac Bonton lead WSU to season sweep over UW
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CJ Elleby and Isaac Bonton lead WSU to season sweep over UW

PULLMAN, Wash. — Nick Rolovich has been named the 33rd head football coach in Washington State history, Director of Athletics Pat Chun announced Tuesday. Rolovich, who agreed in principle to a five-year contract, will be introduced at a press conference Thursday, Jan. 16 at 2:30 p.m. in the Rankich Club Room at Martin Stadium.

“We are excited to welcome Nick Rolovich to Cougar Nation,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “Nick is a proven winner who will bring an exciting style of football to WSU. We look forward to building on the momentum of recent seasons.”

“We set a goal of bringing the best coach possible to Washington State University,” said Chun. “Nick Rolovich is a genuine person, a program builder, an innovator and the exact fit to lead Cougar Football. 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.  We are fortunate to have Nick lead our program and we welcome his wife Analea, along with their daughter Alana and sons Daniel, William and Patrick to the Cougar Family.”

Rolovich, 40, spent a total of eight seasons at the University of Hawai’i, the last four as head coach. He also served as Nevada’s offensive coordinator for four seasons and spent two years coaching quarterbacks at City College of San Francisco. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach at San Marin High School in Northern California.

“I’d like to thank President Schulz and Pat for the opportunity and the trust they have put in me to lead these young men,” said Rolovich. “Not only on the football field, but we truly believe we are raising tomorrow’s husbands, fathers and community leaders. The excitement is real and it’s honest. 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,” Rolovich continued. “One of the more attractive things was the community, how it matches a lot of the values we try to live by and I’m excited to raise my family in Pullman. We can’t wait to get up there and get started.”

Rolovich recently completed his fourth season at Hawai’i, where he led the program to a 28-27 record and three bowl games in his time. This past season he guided UH to its first 10-win season since 2010 as the Rainbow Warriors went 10-5, capped by a 38-34 win over BYU in the Hawaii Bowl. It marked just the seventh time in program history Hawai’i reached double-digit wins and its first back-to-back winning seasons since 2006-07 after going 8-6 in 2018.

During his time as a head coach at Hawai’i, Rolovich guided 24 different players to a total of 31 All-Mountain West Conference honors and 39 different student-athletes to a total of 59 All-Academic honors.

The 2019 Mountain West Coach of the Year, Rolovich’s offense threw of 338.0 ypg this past season, fifth nationally, while the Rainbow Warriors were 13th nationally in total offense at 471.0 ypg. He opened the season with back-to-back wins over Pac-12 foes Arizona and Oregon State, won five of their final six games while reaching the Mountain West Championship game.

The 2018 season saw a true resurgence of the famed Run-and-Shoot offense. Under Rolovich’s guidance, the UH offense racked up more than 5,800 yards of offense, along with 43 touchdown passes. The aerial assault accounted for 30.8 points per game, 310.3 passing yards per game, ninth nationally, and 419 total yards of offense per contest. The production led to the Rainbow Warriors returning to the Hawaii Bowl for a second time under Rolovich, finishing with an 8-6 record.

In 2016, when he took over the program as the fifth-youngest head coach in NCAA Division I FBS at the age of 37 after a four-year stint as Nevada’s offensive coordinator, Rolovich promised a refined offense and he came through in the form of a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver for just the second time in program history. He also guided Hawai’i to its first bowl game since the 2010 season, a 52-35 win over Middle Tennessee State giving the Rainbow Warriors a 7-7 record.

During his time in Reno (2012-15), Rolovich coached quarterbacks and served as the Wolf Pack’s offensive coordinator, helping lead the team to three bowl appearances: the 2012 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the 2014 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the 2015 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

Rolovich’s first coaching stint at UH was wildly productive from 2008-11, directing one of the top passing offenses in the nation. He was the quarterbacks coach all four seasons and spent the final two years as the Warriors’ offensive coordinator.

For the latter three years of his time with the Warriors, he had play-calling duties, while UH threw for 13,915 yards—an average of 347.9 yards per game—and 96 touchdowns. That includes the 2010 season in which Hawai’i led the nation in passing offense (394.3 ypg) and finished sixth in total offense (500.6 ypg).

Rolovich was a two-year letterwinner at quarterback for Hawai’i from 2000-01, starting the bulk of the 2001 season and leading the team to an 8-1 record as a starter. He passed for 4,176 career yards and 40 touchdowns and still holds six school passing records. The highlight of his career was perhaps one of the best performances in college football history. Rolovich led the Rainbow Warriors to an upset over previously unbeaten and No. 9 BYU in the 2001 season finale, 72-45, with 543 yards and eight touchdowns. As a senior, he ranked 10th nationally in passing efficiency with a 150.5 rating and broke 19 school passing and eight total offensive records. He ended his college career with three consecutive 500-yard passing games, engineering at least 52 points each outing.

Following his collegiate playing career, Rolovich participated in the Dallas Cowboys mini-camp before signing with the Denver Broncos. He was later allocated to the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe, where he threw for 907 yards and led the Fire to World Bowl XI.

Rolovich got his coaching start in 2002 as an assistant coach for San Marin (Calif.) High School, later reuniting with his college coach, June Jones, in coaching the Run-and-Shoot offense as a student assistant at Hawai’i during the 2003-04 seasons.

He returned to Denver in 2003, then started a five-year career in the Arena Football League, beginning with the San Jose SaberCats, where he was a member of their Arena Bowl Championship team. He then spent time with the Chicago Rush, Arizona Rattlers and Las Vegas Gladiators. While with the Gladiators, he threw for 1,248 yards and 23 touchdowns and had a passer rating of 104.8 in 2007 before retiring and accepting a full-time role at his alma mater on Greg McMackin’s coaching staff.

\The Novato, Calif., native earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from UH in 2004 and a master’s in human performance and sport from New Mexico Highlands (2007).

Rolovich and his wife, Analea, have three sons, Daniel, William and Patrick, and one daughter, Alana.