Hawaii football: Nick Rolovich headed to Washington State

Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich is headed to Pullman, Wash., after spending four seasons as the head coach of his alma mater, Hawaii. / Photo by Lyle Smith, Special to the Star-Advertiser

Hawaii football coach Nick Rolovich will be named Washington State’s head coach, according to multiple reports.

Rolovich could not be reached for immediate comment, but UH athletic director David Matlin provided confirmation from UH’s end.

UPDATE: Rolovich provided a comment just before 10 p.m. HST, in his inimitable way, on Twitter.

The WSU job was vacated when Mike Leach accepted the coaching job at Mississippi State.

On Saturday, Rolovich indicated he had received feelers from WSU officials but at that point had not had a formal interview. It is believed he met with officials today, although it is not known if the meeting was in Pullman, Wash., or on the phone.

Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports was the first to report the story.

Rolovich’s base salary (before incentives) on his current contract is $425,004. Yahoo’s Pete Thamel reported that Rolovich is getting a five-year deal at nearly $3 million a year.

Rolovich won Mountain West Coach of the Year after leading the Rainbow Warriors to the Mountain West West Division title and their first appearance in the MWC championship game. UH went on to beat old rival BYU 38-34 in the SoFi Hawaii Bowl.

Last week, starting quarterback Cole McDonald announced his intention to leave school a year early for the NFL Draft, making Chevan Cordeiro the presumptive starter for the ‘Bows in 2020.

Here was Rolovich’s year-by-year record at UH:
2016: 7-7 (Hawaii Bowl champ)
2017: 3-9
2018: 8-6 (Hawaii Bowl runner-up)
2019: 10-5 (Mountain West runner-up, Hawaii Bowl champ)
Total: 28-27


  1. Chicken Grease January 13, 2020 8:31 pm

    Bye. 🙄

  2. justsomeguy January 13, 2020 8:35 pm

    Get outta here with your garbage attitude chicken grease.

    Thanks for all you’ve done coach. We will always be rooting for you. Aloha!

  3. Matt January 13, 2020 8:46 pm

    Jeez…this is just a bar-burner. Now it’s a catastrophic situation for David Matlin to figure out how to resolve this. The only thing Hawaii needs to do is to hire someone who can get the team back on track to winning games. We can’t have a Norm Chow-like coach tailing on our program and setting us a step back. We were such on a good roll with Rolovich, and then he decides to call it quits. We just gotta hope that we can get a good hire for HC because we need a coach that cares about WINNING. There’s no excuses, and we gotta get back to representing our program with what it is.

    Wishful thinking, but what if we were to hire a previously-fired NFL coordinator as our head coach?

  4. John From hilo January 13, 2020 9:16 pm

    June Jones baby!!

  5. Kahuna January 13, 2020 9:27 pm

    JJ is coaching in the XFL now. He will be unavailable to coach this spring. We need somebody right now for recruiting purposes.

  6. Luki January 13, 2020 9:34 pm

    Good luck to coach Rolovich! Better pay, better facilities, PAC 12 competition don’t blame the guy for making the natural move upwards in his career.

  7. bg January 13, 2020 9:35 pm

    Thanks Nick, you gave this State hope again. There was no need to second think this decision. It was the right thing to do for your family.

    I am thinking you would not have done this without consideration for your staff. Don’t think you would leave them exposed to being fired by a new HC. So, perhaps the new HC will be a hire from within. Someone who believes in where the program should be headed and will preserve R&S. From what I have seen of you, I believe you will preserve your legacy. You may be working somewhere else, but let no one doubt where your heart is. Aloha

  8. Kev-1 January 13, 2020 9:38 pm

    If JJ were to be offered a college coaching position, I bet he’d take it. History says the XFL wont last too long. The league that tried to get going last off season didn’t even make it through their first season.

  9. H-Man January 13, 2020 9:41 pm

    Time to consider dropping football. No need build new stadium. Fan base shrinking; little or no support from state to subsidize football program. Can’t stand to see a new head coach struggle to assemble a good staff with inadequate salary budget, then get criticized for on-field performance.

  10. MakuleFan January 13, 2020 9:48 pm

    God bless you Coach Nick. Good luck at Wazu. Hawai’i could never raise that kind of money to keep a quality coach. Hawai’i is an FCS State. Shrinking fan attendance might be stimulated by athletes unable to make it at big schools. If we downgrade and help get programs started at UHH, HPU, Chaminade, LCC, KCC and BYU we’d have a conference to send to the FCS championship series . Cheaper too.

  11. bg January 13, 2020 9:51 pm

    A FIRED NFL coordinator? June? Folks are losing sight of why Rolo is going to WSU instead of staying where he loves to be. After 3-4 yrs, his base pay is still below $500k. At WSU, he has a long term contract that pays 6x as much. Let’s be realistic, Hawaii is an entry level job. No need to be defensive about it. Rolo has shown that it’s possible to be successful even with our shortfalls. Take the blueprint and I Mua.

  12. Think About It January 13, 2020 9:57 pm

    H-Man you hit the nail on the head. No support from state may as well shut football down. Watch the dominos fall legislators.

  13. Kawika January 13, 2020 10:35 pm

    The Aina, beaches, lifestyle won’t pay your mortgage/rent or groceries. UH will always be cheap and like “Manuela Boy.” Plus workers all like go home at 5:00.

    Best of luck Coach Rolovich. Mahalo for all you did beyond just coaching to promote UH Football and sorry you didn’t receive the same love and appreciation from UH/The State and fan support.

  14. James g Boyd jr. January 14, 2020 4:32 am

    Hire Joe salavea! He will revitalize Hawaii football! And he has the pipeline of recruites

  15. James g Boyd jr. January 14, 2020 4:40 am

    Hawaii needs to be in the pac 12 conference eventually. I think school administrators have a different view, they can careless! Did they reward June Jones after that incredible season!? Nope! It starts with the top down and Hawaii football is not priority unfortunately.

  16. Boolakanaka January 14, 2020 5:25 am

    Got a business friend of Wazzu AD Pat Chun, so a couple of items I discovered:

    One, Leachs departure was amiable and he directly told them to hire Rolo,

    Two, Rolo was on their immediate short short list from the get go,

    Three, other teams (don’t know who) were interested in Rolo,

    Four, Wazzu didn’t want to mess around with counter offers from UH (and Im not sure there were any of any substance) and so gave him a deal a little south of Leachs current deal or about a 600% raise.

    My closing thoughts, Rolo leaves with much aloha to the state but certainly not UH administration. Bottom line, say you working for that state as a civil engineer for the state say for 110k, and someone offers you over 600k, of course you leave—period. Your family for this generation and next is set. Moreover, you get to develop your craft on the next level with more resources, easy decision.

    Rolo did what he was paid to do, rescued the program from the brink and three bowls in four years is huge. The state and UH upper campus failed him, if they can’t raise up their game we are in systemic dilemma of repeating this over and over, and probably not with such great results to show for…. upper campus you listening ?!?

  17. Maddog50 January 14, 2020 8:10 am

    This is perfect. New stadium on the horizon, new media money on its way, new coach and staff to be implemented……now let’s see who gets off their rump to tie it together. Rail drop off at new digs to boot. Rolovich can’t turn down what’s been offered. This pay scale nationally is insane. We will see over time if right choices were made. The most important thing is the University and state commitment to the only game in town. Pettiness politics and buffoonery is all that’s stands in the way-we will soon see if there are any visionaries in the house that can seize a rather obvious opportunity to capitalize on. I’m not in a good place emotion wise so I’ll keep my temper in check. To the current players and commits keep channeled in the right direction and you will reap rewards you covet. GoWarriors!!!!$

  18. Boolakanaka January 14, 2020 8:14 am

    As always Maddox well said, from your generation to mine of former players, UH be on alert, we are ALL watching—don’t drop the ball!

  19. Angel Winger January 14, 2020 8:35 am

    Bring home a great person, coach, and past player who loves the school and can generate excitement. Give Tim Chang an opportunity to again lead Warrior World!

  20. A-House January 14, 2020 10:09 am

    surprised, but not disappointed that Coach Rolo is leaving — wish he would have stayed 3 or 4 more years — but, with ‘prior service’ believes he qualifies for State of Hawaii retirement benefits

    how many current coaches will he take with him is another consideration.

    yes, pay scale is ridiculous, but remember, large pay demands WINNING and if that does not happen, then goodbye — don’t think WASSU would give him a 6-year guaranteed contract so we will see in 3 or 4 years what happens.

    best if UH can fire from within to keep the winning momentum going, recruiting, and keeping players — maybe new coach will consider hiring Passas (sp) as the new QB coach

  21. Superstar Advertiser January 14, 2020 10:11 am

    Go after a successful Division II coach from some place like Ohio, where Hawaii will be a big upgrade.

  22. Robert January 14, 2020 12:39 pm

    Call Coach Cal. He has brought St. Louis to National Recognition. Develops local talent and will likely be able to keep some of the very best at home. Also look at the quarterbacks he has had and the likely starter next year. Chevon would likely be able to operate the offense without having to go through another learning curve.

  23. GoDucks January 14, 2020 11:56 pm

    You can’t get joe Salavea, he made more than coach Rolo.

  24. Just a guy January 15, 2020 5:49 pm

    Save the money shut down football program. Invest in the volleyball programs as they seem to be more successful anyway.

    Thanks Rolo! Take care of your family. That’s what matters most!


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