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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.

Mountain West Conference lands rich new TV deal with two TV partners

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The Mountain West Conference has a brand new TV deal locked in, and it’s a big one for the conference. The Mountain West announced it has agreed to terms on a new media rights deal with CBS Sports Network and FOX that will run through 2025-2026. The six-year contract is valued at $270 million for the conference.

The new media contract with CBS Sports and FOX will send 23 Mountain West Conference football games to CBS, CBS Sports Network, FOX, or FOX Sports 1, and an additional 10 games may be added to CBS Sports Network or CBS’s streaming digital platform, which is a paid service. FOX will air game son both network television and FOX Sports 1. FOX will have first dibs on any Boise State home games as part of the deal. FOX will broadcast the Mountain West Conference championship game as part of its package of games on either FOX or FOX Sports 1.

Boise State continues to be a winner in the new deal with a higher percentage of conference TV revenue share. However, it has been noted this will be the final time Boise State gets such an advantage.

Also of note, Hawaii will be keeping its own local rights agreement. In return, Hawaii will hand over conference games as part of the TV deal. Hawaii’s revenue share will be calculated differently as well.

The new media deal is certainly heavy on traditional television outlets as opposed to the push for digital streaming options. Even though the media landscape continues to move away form traditional cable options, the Mountain West Conference going with a relatively shorter contract shows the conference is still comfortable with the media landscape’s stability for the near future. And for how much the conference will distribute to conference members for the next six years, everyone should be pretty happy about the deal. As far as Group of Five conferences go, the Mountain West has a very good deal in place with multiple viewing options to expand the visibility of the conference’s football and basketball brands.

QB Cole McDonald leaving Hawaii early for 2020 NFL Draft

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Cole McDonald has taken an early leave of Hawaii.

Via Twitter, Cole McDonald announced that, “after many conversations with coaches and family, I have decided to forego my senior year [at Hawaii] and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.” The quarterback went on to state that he “will forever be grateful to the University of Hawaii for being the only school to offer me the chance to play Division I football.

“I will always carry Hawaii on my arm, but more importantly Hawaii will always be in my heart.  With much Aloha, Mahalo Nui Loa Hawaii and I can’t wait to see you again!”

The California native was a two-star member of the Rainbow Warriors’ 2016 recruiting class.  McDonald’s 8,032 career passing yards are fourth-most in school history, trailing only Timmy Chang, Colt Brennan and Bryant Moniz.

This past season, McDonald threw for 4,135 yards (third nationally) and 33 touchdowns (tied for eighth).  He was also second on the team with 383 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.

In the Hawaii Bowl win over BYU Christmas Eve, McDonald passed for a career-high 493 yards.

In finishing 10-5 on the season, Hawaii reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2010.  They also played in their first-ever Mountain West Conference championship game.

Hawaii jumps out, comes back, hangs on for wild bowl win over BYU

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When it comes to why college football fans love bowl games, BYU and Hawaii were Exhibit A Christmas Eve night.

Hawaii’s Cole McDonald passed for 199 yards in the first quarter of the Hawaii Bowl.  He had 331 yards at halftime.  And four touchdowns, too — three passing, one rushing.  And his team held just a 31-24 lead at halftime as Zach Wilson threw for 209 yards — and BYU ran for three touchdowns in the first two quarters.

In the halftime locker room, the defenses inexplicably were awakened as just 17 points were scored in the second half.  Just seven of those were scored by the Rainbow Warriors, but that proved to be enough — barely — as UH held on for a 38-34 win.

Speaking of that score, and the winner, allow me to point you to our (my) prediction for this game, from yesterday morning’s “College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 24 Viewer’s Guide“:

The win was Hawaii’s first over BYU since 2001, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Cougars.  It’s also just the Rainbow Warriors’ second win over the Cougars since 1992.

In finishing 10-5 on the season, Hawaii reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2010.  They also played in their first-ever Mountain West Conference championship game.

McDonald would finish this game with 493 yards passing, a career-high.  The junior came into the game ninth nationally with 3,642 yards.  He also had four touchdown passes on the night, the last of which came with 1:17 left in the game that proved to be the game-winner.

With the bowl game, McDonald now has 33 scoring tosses on the season.

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 24 Viewer’s Guide

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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at a very light Dec. 24 bowl menu, one that, for the second-straight day, features just a single matchup.

WHO: Hawaii (9-5) vs. BYU (7-5)
WHAT: The 18th SoFi Hawaii Bowl
WHERE: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
WHEN: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
BUY TICKETS: Click here

THE SKINNY: BYU will be playing in a bowl game for the 14th time the past 15 seasons.  The Cougars are 8-6 in that stretch. … In one of the most inexplicable and unexplainable coincidences in college football, eight of Hawaii’s last nine postseason appearances have come in the Hawaii Bowl.  The Rainbow Warriors are an even .500 in those island appearances. … Here’s to guessing that, because of that last note, I’m going to be rueing the fact that there is currently no sarcasm font in WordPress. … The two football programs have played a total of 27 times, with the first meeting coming in 1974 and the most recent in 2018.  The Cougars lead the all-time series 22-5, and the Rainbow Warriors have lost five in a row and 11 of 12 in the series. … Hawaii is coming off its first-ever appearance in the Mountain West Conference championship game, a 31-10 loss to Boise State.  BYU has won five of their last six games entering the postseason, including a 28-25 win over Boise State. … In fact, nearly half of BYU’s wins came against quality/Power Five opponents — Boise, Tennessee and USC. Hawaii started off the season beating a pair of Pac-12 teams — Arizona, Oregon State. … Cole McDonald has passed for 3,642 yards (fifth nationally) and 29 touchdowns (tied for 13th) this season, but the Hawaii quarterback’s 14 interceptions are also tied for fifth in the country. … On a related note, BYU’s 15 passes intercepted on defense are tied for ninth in the FBS.  The Cougars are also inside the Top 40 in giving up 203.8 yards per game through the air. … Hawaii Bowl fact: six of the last seven games have been decided by 15 or more points.
THE LINE: Hawaii, +1½
THE PREDICTION: Hawaii 37, BYU 34