Nick Rolovich's tenure at Washington State ended much sooner than anyone had hoped.
Rolovich, a quirky coach with outstanding offensive credentials, seemed like the perfect successor to Mike Leach on the Palouse. He's now out after only 11 games.
WSU president Kirk Schulz and athletic director Pat Chun, while expressing disappointment Monday that the 42-year-old coach didn't comply with the state's vaccination mandate for employees, also noted that they brought in Rolovich in January 2020 to be a long-term leader for the program.
"We have been very active, out working with alumni and friends to invest in facilities and invest in our football program," Schulz said. "When we hired Coach Rolovich, we weren't interested in somebody being around for a couple years. We thought this could be where he retires from."
Despite the unusual circumstances surrounding Rolovich's exit, Washington State will begin a standard search to find his replacement. Chun and his staff have been prepared for the likelihood of a search. Chun, while accepting responsibility for hiring Rolovich, has support from Schulz to lead the process.
"This person needs to exemplify what it means to be a Coug and embrace every aspect of leadership that is required with a job of this magnitude," Chun said Monday.
Washington State is among the more challenging Power 5 jobs because of its remote location, which stresses the recruiting process. The school has increased its investment in facilities and other areas, and coaches such as Leach (55-47) and Mike Price (82-78) have proved that winning at WSU is quite possible. Rolovich's second team had shown improvement, winning three straight games before his departure. Still, WSU's budget is lower than those of most Power 5 programs.
WSU likely will target coaches with offensive backgrounds and those who have ties to the region and the Pac-12. Obviously, the school will not consider any unvaccinated candidates or those who would not comply with state health mandates. Chun's coaching hires include Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic as well as Rolovich, but he might take a more conservative approach this time.
Here are 10 names Washington State could consider to replace Rolovich: