One moment earned applause louder than all the rest at Nick Rolovich’s introductory press conference at Washington State’s Martin Stadium on Thursday afternoon.
“Three-one-seven,” Rolovich, the former Hawaii head coach and quarterback, answered to a question about the Apple Cup.
He paused dramatically before elaborating, “That’s the number of days until we get to play it.” The Apple Cup is the annual rivalry game between WSU and Washington, which has gone seven straight (and 10 of the last 11) to the Huskies, and about 2-to-1 all-time.
Welcome to the Palouse, coach!
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) January 16, 2020
The closest thing to a “Pride Rock” or “Live Aloha Play Warrior”-esque rollout of a team theme — which Rolovich announced at his introduction at UH in November 2015 — might have been when Rolovich closed his introductory remarks by saying, “The Pirate left the treasure in Pullman, and the ‘X’ marks the spot here at Martin Stadium.”
Mike Leach, the former WSU head coach and a friend of Rolovich, was nicknamed “The Pirate.” Leach took the head job at Mississippi State, opening the way for Rolovich’s hire.
Rolovich said that WSU will run the run-and-shoot offense, which shares some elements with Leach’s Air Raid scheme.
“I’m going to ask Mouse (Davis, the founder of the run and shoot) if we can change it to the ‘Run and Coug,’ see how he likes that,” Rolovich said.
Noted WSU president Kirk Schulz, “We wanted a coach who shared a similar offensive philosophy to our previous coaching staff.” He described a fast-moving process upon Leach’s departure with Rolovich “right at the top of our list from the very, very first.”
Added athletic director Pat Chun, “Finding the right fit is absolutely imperative at Washington State. We believe we found that in Nick Rolovich.”
Rolovich’s quirky personality was on display throughout the half-hour conference, with Schulz opening by donning a Rolovich-esque hat emblazoned with the WSU logo.
Rolovich opened his remarks by thanking his family, past coaches, teammates and players he’s coached.
As he did on Twitter on Wednesday night, Rolovich then thanked people back in Hawaii.
“I would be wrong if I didn’t say mahalo to Hawaii for giving me this opportunity and every opportunity I’ve had in my life, as far as my family and coaching career,” he said. “It will always be part of my heart, and I’m very grateful for the time and aloha spirit they gave me.”
But Rolovich said that support for WSU in Pullman, including facilities and student attendance at games, was a factor in his move.
“There’s a togetherness here that was real attractive for me to be a part of,” he said at one point.
“One thing sold me on this place: family. A place where I could look forward to the next chapter of raising my family, in a community that respects one another, loves one another, is in it for one common goal. That excites me. That’s why I’m honored to be here today.”
There was no sign on camera of three UH assistants — Brian Smith, Craig Stutzmann and Jason Cvercko — who were expected to be at the press conference. CORRECTION: Smith and Cvercko can be seen at the left-hand side at the beginning of the press conference video embedded above.