Nick Rolovich to be the XFL Seattle Sea Dragons Offensive Coordinator

Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Boise State, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 59-37. (AP Photo/Steve Conner)

According to XFL Seattle head coach Jim Haslett, Nick Rolovich is slated to replace June Jones as the offensive coordinator of the Sea Dragons.

Seattle’s outgoing offensive coordinator June Jones, who coached Rolovich as a player and previously hired him as a coach at Hawaii, reportedly recommended Rolovich for the Sea Dragons position.

Rolovich’s last stint in the state was in 2021 when Washington State University sent him packing after he failed to comply with state vaccine mandates related to COVID-19. Rolovich sued the school over the firing, a legal battle that continues to this day.

Rolovich was the head coach at Hawaii from 2016 to 2019, when he moved on to Washington State. After going 5-6, he was let go, for something Rolovich has stated, “went against his religious views.” More recently, a federal judge has thrown out that part of the lawsuit because there was “no proof” that it was true.

Playing Career

Rolovich grew up in Novato, California, attending Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, California, and won varsity letters in football and baseball. In football, he led his teams to two league championships. As a two-time junior college All-American (1998–99) at City College of San Francisco, he led the Rams to a national championship in 1999.

With the University of Hawaii, Rolovich was a two-year letterman where he replaced starter and eventual all-time NCAA career passing leader Timmy Chang early in the 2001 season, leading the team to an 8–1 record. During those nine games, Rolovich threw for 3,361 yards and 34 touchdowns on 233-of-405 passing. He ended his college career with three straight 500-yard passing games. He also tossed school single-game records of 8 touchdowns and 543 yards in a 72–45 win over BYU on December 8, 2001.

After an impressive mini-camp, Rolovich signed with the Denver Broncos on May 18, 2002. He came back to the team the next season, but then he was sent to the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe. In 2003, Rolovich led the Fire to the World Bowl XI. In the final game, they lost to the Frankfurt Galaxy by a score of 35–16, where he completed 14 of 19 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown.

In 2004 and 2005, Rolovich played for the Arena Football League’s San Jose SaberCats as Mark Grieb’s backup. Since the 2002 season, he was the first San Jose quarterback other than Grieb to make a pass in a game. On October 31, 2006, Rolovich signed with the Arizona Rattlers. Rolovich was waived by both the Chicago Rush and the Arizona Rattlers in 2006. He hurt his shoulder in a non-contact practice against Las Vegas on January 16, 2006, and was let go a week later. The Las Vegas Gladiators signed Rolovich on April 10, 2007.

Coaching career

While still playing in the AFL, Rolovich served as quarterback coach for his alma mater, the City College of San Francisco Rams. In this role, he coached future quarterbacks Zac Lee and Jeremiah Masoli. In 2008, he retired from pro-football and took a position as quarterback coach with the University of Hawaii, his other alma mater. In 2010, he was promoted to become Hawaii’s offensive coordinator.

In 2012, after the Warriors hired Norm Chow  as their head coach, Rolovich was let go. He landed a job in Nevada as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2013, Rolovich was courted by Matt Rhule to be part of his inaugural staff at Temple, but he remained in Nevada when they doubled his salary to $240k.

On November 27, 2015, Rolovich was hired as the head coach at the University of Hawaii replacing Chow and interim head coach Chris Naeole. In Rolovich’s first season, Hawaii finished the regular season 6–7, but had their first bowl invitation since 2010 to the Hawaii Bowl, where they beat Middle Tennessee 52–35. In 2017, Hawaii fell to a 3-9 record due to injuries to John Ursua among other players. In 2018, Rolovich opted to change from a balanced spread offense to the pass-oriented run and shoot offense that June Jones successfully ran while Rolovich was a player at Hawaii. In their first year under the run and shoot, Rolovich and Hawaii finished 8–6 while losing to Louisiana Tech in the Hawaii Bowl. In 2019, Hawaii clinched a berth in the Mountain West Championship Game with a 14–11 win over San Diego State on November 23, 2019. Rolovich was named Mountain West Coach of Year in 2019 after leading Hawaii to a 10-win season and division title.

Washington State

On January 13, 2020, Rolovich was announced as the new head coach for Washington State University, replacing Mike Leach who had departed to take the head coaching job at Mississippi State.

By April 2021, Washington State University became aware of Rolovich’s vaccine skepticism. On July 21, 2021, Rolovich announced that he had chosen not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and therefore would not be allowed to attend a scheduled Pac-12 media day. On October 18, 2021, Rolovich, along with defensive tackles coach Ricky Logo, cornerbacks coach John Richardson, quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzmann and offensive line coach Mark Weber, were fired for failing to comply with Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees.

Aside from his anti-vaccination beliefs, Rolovich is known for his off-beat sense of humor. While at University of Hawaii, during West Conference Media Days, he brought along a tarot card reader, a Britney Spears impersonator, and an Elvis Presley impersonator.  At Washington State, Rolovich gave a campus tour to a recruit by conducting a FaceTime session with a phone taped to his bike helmet.

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