PULLMAN - Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich will take over as Washington State’s head football coach, replacing Mike Leach.
WSU President Kirk Schulz confirmed the hiring on Twitter Tuesday morning. The school has scheduled a Thursday event in Pullman to introduce Rolovich as the new head coach.
Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin tweeted Monday night that Rolovich had informed him he had accepted the Washington State job, succeeding Leach, who left for Mississippi State.
The Associated Press is reporting the deal for Rolovich is expected to be for five years at $3 million per season.
“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 has been at Hawaii for four seasons and led to her program to the Mountain West Conference West Division title this season. Hawaii finished 10-5 overall, losing to Boise State in the Mountain West title game before beating BYU in the Hawaii Bowl.
Rolovich has overseen a significant turnaround with the Warriors. When he took over at Hawaii in 2016, he inherited a program that had won 11 total games in its first four seasons in the Mountain West. He’s won at least seven games in three of his four seasons. The 10 wins this season were the most for the Warriors since 2010, when they won 10 games and were co-champs of the WAC with Nevada and Boise State.
The 40-year-old Rolovich is 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 last season with the Warriors.
“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 spent four seasons as an assistant at Hawaii before becoming the offensive coordinator at Nevada in 2012. He returned to his alma mater to take over the head job with the Warriors in 2016.
Rolovich makes sense for Washington State because of the style of offense he’s run during his time at Hawaii. His high-scoring, pass-happy system will play well in Pullman after Leach’s time installing the “Air Raid” offense on the Palouse.
Hawaii ranked fifth in the country in passing this season and was ninth last season when Rolovich fully adopted a pass-heavy offense for the Warriors.