Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Washington State firing head coach Nick Rolovich and four assistant coaches after they all refused to comply with Washington’s state vaccine mandate.
DAN WETZEL: Washington State-- former Washington State head coach is out. He was fired on Monday or replaced or whatever along with four assistant coaches because he refused to comply with the state's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which requires all state employees get the vaccine or they cannot work for the state of Washington. And so Rolovich would not get the vaccine. He had been saying very, very little about this along the way, and so he has walked away from a $3.2 million a year job.
The team-- the Cougars are on a three-game winning streak and starting to play pretty well. It's his second year there.
Rolovich is out. He's replaced by defensive coordinator Jake Dickert. I don't think if he changed his idea right now he'd get his job back. I don't know. He's only 42. I don't know whether he works again. I don't know if he gets a Power Five job again. Maybe. It's got to be a certain place. He took his stance, and he's out. Pat, thoughts?
PAT FORDE: Yeah, look, I think it's absolutely just a brutal blow for the team. And you hear coaches talk about commitment to the team, commitment to the team, commitment to the team, buy-in, alignment, all those things. Well, you're not only losing your head coach on a dime in the middle of the season. You're losing half the staff, and that's where it gets really problematic.
I mean, you see places that will fire a head coach, but the rest of the staff is there still doing the job. This is literally half of your full-time assistant on-field coaching staff is out right now.
And they all saw this coming a couple of months ago, and they said, OK, we're just not going to do it. And, yeah, it's absolutely their right, and it's Washington's right to enforce the mandate that's been passed down from the governor. But this has become very, very political, which adds just another element to this.
But if you're a Washington State player, I would feel very disappointed in my coaching staff that they basically chose to bail on this season.
PETE THAMEL: Washington State is not a place that you happen upon. Like, Dan, you went to UMass because it was your local kind of state school 60 miles away. There's not much around Washington State, right? Spokane's somewhat nearby.
But if you are a football player, a Power Five-level football player or a Power Five-level football coach, you have to make an effort to go to Pullman. They aren't pulling a lot of talent from their backyard.
So that's a long-winded way to say a lot of people blew up their lives to go to Pullman, Washington. The coaching staffs moved there. Players left their families. It is an isolated place. And it's certainly a good place, and it's certainly a place that's had a lot of successes, but it's not a place you happen upon. You have to be very intentional about going to Washington State.
And I think my predominant feeling is that a whole lot of people got left in the lurch here. You've got a team that has half its coaching staff gone. You've got a goofy offensive system and really only, like, one person who truly knows how to run it. And you have a bushel of recruits, multiple classes, who chose Nick Rolovich and chose Washington State, and all of a sudden everything's different.
I feel bad for everybody who's kind of stuck up there with no direction. You've got interim coach Jake Dickert. They've won three games in a row. They could win the Pac-12 North.
What a weird moment in time for a major college-football program. Like, where do you go? Does everybody just pack up and leave after the season? Like, if they beat BYU this weekend, I give those players a lot of credit because they basically have become the adult. They're like, all right, we're just going to take care of this ourselves. All right, we're going to band together, and we're going to take care of this program.
So good luck to Dickert. He's a capable guy. He's got a great reputation. Their defense is playing awesome. That's really kind of what's carried them through this season. But, boy, that is a difficult lurch that those players, the remaining coaches, and those administrators are in.