Football: Rolovich readies for first year as Wolf Pack’s sole playcaller
Special to The R-C
In a whirlwind span of about a year, Nick Rolovich went from Hawaii to Massachusetts to Reno to Philadelphia and back to Reno.
Call it the coaching Rolo-coaster. Rolovich traveled more than a NBA player in a summer charity game.
“If I would have done this 10 years ago, it would have been looked down upon a lot more,” Rolovich said. “But the coaching profession has gotten crazy lately. Guys now are leaving after spring ball.
“But it’s not like I want to make this a habit.”
The Today Show doesn’t have plans to air a weekly segment titled “Where in the World is Nick Rolovich?” Not yet, at least. But you could hardly blame them if they did.
In case you’ve lost track of the comings and goings of the coaching Rolo-coaster, here’s a little refresher course. Rolovich was an assistant coach at Hawaii from 2008-12.
End of stability.
Rolovich then spent a month or so as Massachusetts’ offensive coordinator in January 2013. Chris Ault then hired him away a month later to become the Pack’s offensive coordinator. In late December 2013, Rolovich accepted the job as offensive coordinator at Temple. A week or so later he decided to stay in Nevada.
It has been quite a coaching merry-go-round. Then again, Rolovich is no stranger to changing uniforms.
Ever since he graduated from Marin Catholic High in the Bay area, Rolovich has been on the move. He played quarterback for City College of San Francisco (1998-99), the University of Hawaii (2000-01), the Rhein Fire (2002-03), the San Jose SaberCats (2004-05), the Chicago Rush (2006), the Dresden Monarchs (2007) and the Las Vegas Gladiators (2007-08). He also took part in the training camps of the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos.
His business card should read “Have playbook, will travel.”
“The hardest thing is leaving the players,” said Rolovich of his many coaching moves lately.
Rolovich, though, is right where he wants to be. He firmly believes that brass ring he’s been chasing on his coaching merry-go-round is right here in Nevada.
“I love my job,” said the 34-year-old father of two with twins on the way. “I’m very lucky to be doing what I’m doing.”
And, he adds, lucky to be doing it in Nevada. He decided to come back to Nevada even before Brian Polian got the official blessing from the Nevada Board of Regents to become the Wolf Pack’s next head coach in the middle of January.
“After talking to Coach Polian, it only took a few minutes to realize that he and I share a lot of the same beliefs,” Rolovich said. “It was for that reason and because I love living here and my family loves living here, that I decided to stay. I was very comfortable with the area. This is a very underrated part of the country.”
Polian called Rolovich his “first and most important recruit.”
The pistol offense, Polian said, was vital to making his transition to Nevada as easy as possible.
“The pistol offense is Nevada’s identity,” he said. “Why change it? I’m not a dummy. The offense has been pretty good here.”
Rolovich said he decided to leave the Wolf Pack late last December because of the unstable coaching situation.
“After Coach Ault left, I really didn’t know what was going on here,” he said.
Temple and its new head coach, Matt Rhule, also promised to allow Rolovich to marry the pistol offense with the Hawaii run-and-shoot, something that was never going to happen at Nevada under Ault.
“It was exciting,” Rolovich said. “Matt Rhule was one of the main reasons I decided to go there.”
Rhule also promised to allow Rolovich to call the plays at Temple, something that also was never likely to happen under Ault.
“There’s no doubt Coach Ault has the final say,” Rolovich said. “There was never any secrets with Coach Ault. I knew why I was brought in here. I was brought in to help the passing game. And, in turn, he taught me a lot of great things about the running game.
“The thing about Coach Ault is that he’s always looking to improve the offense. He was always looking for the next thing to make the pistol better. He brought me in because he was interested in my passing game concepts.
“I was able to learn so much from him. And his trust in me grew as the year went along. It didn’t grow to the point where he let me do it all. I’m not saying that. If I suggested something he didn’t like, he didn’t do it. He always had a plan for what he wanted to do. But his trust in me was growing.”
Rolovich now has total control over the Pack offense. Polian, who has never been an offensive or defensive coordinator, is going to trust Rolovich with the play-calling.
“I will get input from everybody,” Rolovich said. “It’s not a one-person operation. I understand, it (the title of offensive coordinator) is a lot like being the quarterback. It’s where a lot of the blame and credit goes.
“But I’ll get input from everybody when making the game plan. But, at a certain point, you have to cut it off and you have to do what you have to do.”
How much of the Hawaii run-and-shoot will we see blended with the Wolf Pack pistol this year? Stay tuned.
“UCLA has the internet,” said Rolovich, referring to the Pack’s first opponent on Aug. 31. “I’m not going to say what we’re going to do.”
When Polian asked at his introductory press conference, ‘Why change it?’ that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to change Ault’s pistol. He was just asking the question.
Expect some changes. Some subtle and some, well, not so subtle.
“We have to be very conscious of what personnel we have,” Rolovich said. “You can’t force it if you don’t have the right people.”
A lot of the same personnel — namely quarterback Cody Fajardo, wide receivers Brandon Wimberly, Aaron Bradley, Richy Turner, Kendall Brock and Joe Huber and tight end Kolby Arendse — are back. Fajardo and Rolovich conducted their own little love fest via Twitter when Rolovich first left Nevada and then came back to the Pack.
“I’m very comfortable with the players here,” Rolovich said.