Nick Rolovich Out As WSU’s Head Football Coach – And I Am Perfectly OK With That

The right move has finally been made. Ex-WSU Head Football Coach Nick Rolovich has been fired from his position. The official reasoning may be simple, but the fallout will probably prove complicated. However, the reason why I’m here may surprise you. I’m here to argue that Rolovich should have been fired a year ago and for circumstances unrelated to the Covid vaccine. Whatever the reasoning, Director of Athletics Pat Chun made himself clear, stating, “Nick is not eligible to be employed” because he failed to comply with the governor’s Covid vaccination mandate for state employees.

To me, whether Rolovich got a vaccine was irrelevant; however, I did have a problem with how he treated his players. In particular, one incident with former Coug wide receiver Kassidy Woods. 

Before the Covid season last year, Woods had chosen to opt out due to personal health concerns; he has Sickle Cell, which can lower the immune system and make an individual more prone to infections. 

Rolovich respected Woods’s decision on the health front, but when it came to the #WeAreUnited movement, Rolo had a different tone. 

During a phone call that Woods had illegally recorded, Rolo inquired whether or not the former wideout was a part of this group. 

When Woods told his former head coach that he was, Rolovich had the following to say, “That’s gonna be an issue if you align with them.”

He also added, “But, um, joining this group is gonna put you on a, on a – that’s, you know, you get to keep your scholarship this year, but it – – it’s gonna be different.”

Washington State coach Nick Rolovich regrets wording used while discussing Pac-12 player movement –

To me, that felt like a very gentle way of saying your opportunities are limited on this team if you join the players’ movement, and I told that softly. 

Historically speaking, a coach’s job is to create opportunities for their players, not limit them. 

And this goes far beyond the playing field, maybe into the realm of the #WeAreUnited movement. 

Even though this player’s organization lost steam quickly, some of its core principles were: universal mandated health and safety procedures to protect college athletes against Covid, allowing players to opt-out and respect their decision, and guaranteed eligibility whether a player chooses to play the season or not.”

Simply put, it gave college athletes the freedom to make decisions about their health in the middle of a pandemic. 

Something Rolo probably has a deeper understanding of at this current moment. 

And for me, this is a vast spiritual victory. 

I am a die-hard Cougar fan who has refused to cheer for their football team dating back to the Mike Leach era. 

Something just never felt right about Rolo, and I’ll get to the “Mad Pirate” in a second. 

Ever since Nick arrived on campus, he’s been deemed a players coach. In my opinion, a “players coach” doesn’t passive-aggressively threaten to kick a student-athlete off his team for standing up for his beliefs. I’ll leave it at that. 

When it comes to Leach, I didn’t like how he disrespected people continuously; but at least he wasn’t fake. 

It is fair to note in regards to Rolo that his current players are still supporting him even after his firing. 

Standout cornerback Jaylen Watson posted on Twitter the following statement “A real stand-up dude that always stands on what he believes in heart was so pure and a true role model to me and my teammates.”

And he wasn’t alone

Starting quarterback Jayden de Laura stated the following on Twitter, “Words cannot express our profound sadness and disappointment in the termination of our Coach, Nick Rolovich.”

de Laura then added, “he put trust in me and allowed me to grow as a man both on and off the field. For that reason, we strongly disagree with today’s decision.”

I can’t comment on a relationship that I know nothing about, but it’s probably easier for the star players to stand up for the old ball coach than the third-stringers. At that age, success may prove blinding. 

For Rolo, I respect how he stood up for his beliefs, but there are consequences for his actions. 

He risked it all and may never coach at a high level ever again.   

But most freaking importantly, I can cheer for my Washington State Cougars football team (“deep sighs”), and that’s just good for my damn soul. 

About Nick Bartlett 129 Articles
Hello there ya wild rabbits. My name is Nick Bartlett and I’m a sportswriter, broadcast manager, and youth basketball coach. I’m from the Greater Seattle Area and a graduate of the Edward R. Murrow school at Washington State University. I’ve had over 50 articles and 10 podcasts published in Seattle PI, and my work featured on OregonLive, SportsPac12, and South Florida Tribune. You can contact me at or on twitter @WordsByBartlett. Cheetos and Tuna.

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