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Washington State confirms hiring of Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich

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UPDATED 9:13 p.m. ET: In a release Tuesday evening, Washington State confirmed that Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich has taken the same job with the Cougars.

“We set a goal of bringing the best coach possible to Washington State University,” said athletic director Pat Chun in a statement. “Nick Rolovich is a genuine person, a program builder, an innovator and the exact fit to lead Cougar Football. Coach Rolovich is committed to academic achievement and developing every aspect of our student-athletes. He has a vision of taking Cougar Football on a path to win championships. We are fortunate to have Nick lead our program and we welcome his wife Analea, along with their daughter Alana and sons Daniel, William and Patrick to the Cougar Family.”

“I’d like to thank President Schulz and Pat for the opportunity and the trust they have put in me to lead these young men,” said Rolovich. “Not only on the football field, but we truly believe we are raising tomorrow’s husbands, fathers and community leaders. The excitement is real and it’s honest. Most recently what Coach Leach has built gives us a high starting point. I appreciate him as a friend and what he has done to build the program.

“We are looking forward to learning more about the program, the history, the anecdotes and the legends of WSU football. One of the more attractive things was the community, how it matches a lot of the values we try to live by and I’m excited to raise my family in Pullman. We can’t wait to get up there and get started.”

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(The original post appears below.)

When it comes to the Washington State football program, it appears the Cougars will shift from the Air Raid to the Run-and-Shoot.

After eight seasons, Mike Leach left as the Washington State football head coach on Jan. 9 to take over at Mississippi State.  Five days later, it’s being reported that Nick Rolovich of Hawaii will be hired to take over for Leach.

Rolovich is expected to receive a five-year contract from WSU that averages $3 million annually. Leach made $3.75 million for the 2019 season.  Rolovich?  $600,000 at Hawaii.

Leach’s salary was ninth amongst Pac-12 head coaches.  Rolovich’s was ninth in the Mountain West Conference.

An official announcement from Washington State is expected at some point Tuesday.

While Wazzu has yet to confirm the hiring, Hawaii has confirmed the departure.

The 40-year-old Rolovich just completed his fourth season as the Rainbow Warriors’ head coach.  In finishing 10-5 this past season, Hawaii reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2010.  They also played in their first-ever Mountain West Conference championship game.

Overall, Rolovich went 28-27 at his alma mater.

There is, though, an ugly incident in which Rolovich allegedly physically assaulted a newspaper photographer in November that Washington State will no doubt be forced to address if the hiring comes to fruition.

Ole Miss confirms addition of Navy transfer Jake Springer

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Ole Miss has looked to a service academy to significantly bolster its football roster.  Officially.

Back in mid-March, Jake Springer signaled his intention to transfer from Navy by entering the NCAA transfer database.  A little over three months later, the striker utilized Instagram to announce that he had committed to the Ole Miss football team.

Two weeks after that social media revelation, Ole Miss confirmed that Springer has signed and been added to the Rebels football roster.  It was initially thought that Springer would be headed to the Rebels as a graduate transfer.  Instead, the school confirmed he’ll have to sit out the 2020 season.  The 2021 season will be his final year of eligibility.

Springer was a two-star member of the Class of 2017 for the Midshipmen.  His recruiting pedigree, though, belies the potential for production he brings to Ole Miss football.

After playing in six games as a true freshman, Springer saw action in a dozen in 2018.  He started four of those contests, intercepting a pair of passes in that action.  The Missouri product had a breakout season in 2019, starting 10 games for the Midshipmen.  He led the team in both tackles for loss (16) and sacks (eight).  The latter total is tied for third-most in academy history, the former tied for the fifth-most.

Following the regular season, Springer was accorded second-team All-AAC honors.

While he played a hybrid linebacker/safety (striker) position at Navy, Springer is expected to make his mark in the secondary for the SEC school.

Illinois LB Joseph Thompson enters the transfer portal

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Illinois has been on the right side of the football portal throughout the offseason.  Now, Lovie Smith‘s crew finds themselves on the wrong end.

First reported by Rivals.com, Joseph Thompson has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.  247Sports.com subsequently confirmed that the defensive back is intent on leaving the Illinois football program.

Now, for what’s seemingly becoming a daily disclaimer when it comes to transfers.

As we’ve stated myriad times in the past, a player can remove his name from the portal and remain at the same school. At this point, though, other programs are permitted to contact a player without receiving permission from his current football program.

NCAA bylaws also permit schools to pull a portal entrant’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered it.

Thompson was a three-star member of the Illinois football Class of 2019.  The Chicago native was rated as the No. 27 recruit regardless of position in the state of Illinois.  As a true freshman, Thompson didn’t appear in any games and took a redshirt.

On the positive side for the Illini? Illinois has added seven transfers to its football roster this offseason.  Five of those have come from Power Five programs.

In mid-March, ex-Alabama linebacker Christian Bell tweeted that he was moving on to the Illini. Shortly thereafter, we noted that an FCS All-American offensive lineman had opted to transfer into the Illinois football program. New Mexico State wide receiver Desmond Dan did the same.  As did Miami wide receiver Brian Hightower.  And Mississippi State offensive lineman Brevyn Jones as well in early May  And Louisville defensive back TreSean Smith last week mid-May.  And Cal defensive tackle Chinedu Udeogu that same month.

Report: Oklahoma wants to move its 2020 opener up a week, to Aug. 29

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While seemingly everyone in the sport is looking to push games back, Oklahoma is actually looking to move its football opener up.

Oklahoma is currently scheduled to open the 2020 college football season at home in Norman against FCS Missouri State Sept. 5.  According to The Oklahoman, however, OU is looking to move that matchup up a week, to Aug. 29.  Reportedly, the FCS school is amenable to such a move.

The reasoning behind such a waiver?

OU athletic director Joe Castiglione’s rationale in this pandemic-stricken year is that moving the opener would give OU an off week after each of its first two games, which could be valuable with the testing of players for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

With constant testing and the subsequent contact tracing for those exposed, teams face a season with frequent quarantines and isolation of players who either have the virus or have been exposed to it.

At the moment, Oklahoma is scheduled to face Tennessee at Memorial Stadium Sept. 12.  Then coming off a bye, OU would travel

All of this, of course, is contingent on there actually being non-conference games in the sport.  The Big Ten was the first conference-only scheduling domino to fall.  The ACC and Pac-12 are expected to follow suit.  The Sooners’ conference, the Big 12, likely won’t make a decision on that front until the end of this month.  The same goes for the SEC as well.

Five-star 2020 Georgia signee Broderick Jones reportedly injured in motor bike accident

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There’s a health concern involving one of the crown jewels of the Georgia football Class of 2020.

With Auburn in hot pursuit, Broderick Jones confirmed back in February that he had signed with Georgia football. The offensive lineman stated on National Signing Day he is “a Georgia boy” and “wanted to be close to home so my family could support me.“

Now, though, 247Sports.com is confirming that Jones suffered “a lower leg injury related to an accident involving a motor bike.” No details surrounding the accident have been revealed, although the website noted that it didn’t happen in the last couple of days.

It’s expected that Jones will be recovering for multiple weeks, perhaps up to two months. As of yet, the Georgia football program has not commented on the development.

The No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Georgia, the 6-5, 298-pound Jones is the No. 2 offensive tackle in the country.  On the 247Sports.com composite, he’s listed as the No. 11 prospect overall in the Class of 2020.  Only one signee in this year’s class for the Bulldogs, cornerback Kelee Ringo, was rated higher.

While Jones verbally committed to UGA in April of 2018, the departure of line coach Sam Pittman for the head job at Arkansas in December caused some concern.  In January, Jones took an official visit to Arkansas.  He took another to Illinois that same month.

With the Bulldogs, the expectation is that Jones will slide into a starting job as a true freshman.  Provided there is a season, of course.