What new WSU coach Nick Rolovich is taking from Leach: ‘I can be myself’
Former WSU football coach Mike Leach seems like he would be a hard act to follow.
Not only was Leach one of the most successful coaches in program history when it comes to on-field results, but he became a bit of a cult hero for Cougars fans thanks to his unique personality and the funny anecdotes that he would share at press conferences.
In the short time since Nick Rolovich was named Leach’s successor in Pullman, however, he has been undaunted when it comes to putting himself out in the limelight in a similar fashion. In fact, Rolovich told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Wednesday that Leach’s example is precisely why.
“I like what Leach has done. I think Leach has been successful in his own personality,” Rolovich said. “I think that gave me a little confidence that I can be myself up there and not be told to do this, wear this tie, you know.”
Rolovich was known for being comfortable in the spotlight in Hawaii, and he has been a man of the people among Coug fans already. While in Seattle earlier this week, he made stops at establishments in both the Magnolia and Georgetown neighborhoods, inviting any and all WSU fans to come join him. Of course, many did.
We had brussel sprouts also. Appreciate people making the effort to come out. Fun deal. https://t.co/lwCYZg6FBd
— Nick Rolovich (@NickRolovich) January 20, 2020
“People told me Cougs would respond, and they sure did,” Rolovich said about his impromptu appearances in Seattle. “I knew that Cougs fans love the Cougs, but I didn’t realize it was at the consistent high level that it’s been, at least for the first week I’ve had the job. I’ve enjoyed meeting everybody, I like people, I like being spontaneous, and Cougs responded so it was fun.”
Here are a few other things of note Rolovich said while on with Danny and Gallant:
• His goals for the Cougars: “The Apple Cup is very important to the program and to the fans, and I think striving to get to the Rose Bowl. It’s been over 100 years since they’ve won a Rose Bowl. I mean, that’s a long time. People can laugh at me all they want, but they laughed at me at Hawaii too when I said we could compete for the Mountain West championship.” (Note: Hawaii played Boise State in the Mountain West Championship game last month.)
• His recruiting philosophy at WSU: “I think it’s pretty obvious we should start (our recruiting) at home, but if there’s players that don’t want to go to Pullman or don’t fit in Pullman or that’s not what they’re looking for, they shouldn’t go there. I’m not trying to trick anybody into going to Pullman and play for the Cougs. I want guys that want to go to Pullman and want to play for the Cougs.”
• The difficulty of recruiting to remote places like WSU and Hawaii: “That’s a tough deal, I mean it is, but it’s not changing. It’s something that you just pull up your bootstraps and you go do it. There’s no complaint. You keep complaining about it, it ain’t getting any better. There’s very unique challenges to certain places and that was one of the things at Hawaii, but if you keep whining about it, all you’re gonna do is waste time. It is what it is – get it done.”
You can listen to the full interview with Rolovich at this link or in the player below. The segment begins at about the 25:30 mark in the podcast.