Wazzu, moving on without Nick Rolovich, faces BYU

NCAA Football

Back in May, Washington State defensive coordinator Jake Dickert tweeted a photo of himself receiving his second COVID-19 shot.

He said he did so to inspire WSU players to do the same.

“At the time, it was a rallying cry,” Dickert said. “We didn’t know if there would be fans in the stadium, you know? I was trying to be supportive and use my voice and my outreach because I knew I was trying to do something for the players.”

Perhaps that’s why Washington State athletic director Pat Chun chose Dickert to be the interim head coach, starting Saturday with a nonconference game against visiting BYU. Cougars head coach Nick Rolovich and four assistants were fired Monday for failing to follow Gov. Jay Inslee’s mandate that all state employees be vaccinated.

The assistants were defensive tackles coach Ricky Logo, cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator John Richardson, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzmann and offensive line coach Mark Weber.

“It’s problematic,” Chun said of the short-handed coaching staff. “We’ve been working on contingency plans.”

Heading into the Cougars vs. Cougars matchup, Washington State (4-3) has won three consecutive games, including a 34-31 victory against Stanford last week on Max Borghi’s 2-yard touchdown run with 1:30 remaining. Washington State players doused Rolovich with Gatorade after the game, likely sensing it might be his finale.

Sophomore quarterback Jayden de Laura, who threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns against the Cardinal, tweeted that players “strongly disagreed” with the firing of Rolovich but that “we are a band of brothers who play and sacrifice for each other, no matter who the head coach is.”

BYU coach Kalani Sitake, whose team has lost two straight games after a 5-0 start, was asked about the Washington State coaching situation during his weekly Monday morning news conference, before word came out of Rolovich’s dismissal.

“I have been so into our season and our games that I haven’t even looked into that as much,” Sitake said. “I don’t think I know enough about it to even make a comment, to be honest with you. I’ve got other things to worry about. …

“I am trying to get our team to get off this stinking losing streak, man. It is frustrating me right now. All my attention is on that.”

BYU opened its season with three victories against Pac-12 opponents — Arizona, Utah and Arizona State — and was ranked No. 10 before a 26-17 loss to visiting Boise State on Oct. 9. BYU fell 38-24 at Baylor last week, giving up 303 rushing yards to the Bears.

“We are depending on depth and talent, but sometimes inexperience shows up a little bit,” Sitake said. “It is time to grow up and get better and toughen up. We are not 100 percent, but neither is Washington State.”

–Field Level Media

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