Sports | October 20, 2021 12:08 pm

Ryan Leaf Willing to Coach Washington State After Firing of Nick Rolovich

Rolovich and four of his assistants were fired for refusing a state mandate that all employees get vaccinated

Ex-QB Ryan Leaf walking off the field before a college football game
Ex-QB Ryan Leaf walking off the field before a college football game.
Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty

One of the biggest busts in the history of the NFL is willing to lend his expertise to help his alma mater through a rough patch.

Ryan Leaf, who was drafted No. 2 overall by the San Diego Chargers in 1998 but lasted just four years in the NFL, is prepared to help oversee Washington State’s run-and-shoot offense now that former coach Nick Rolovich is out for refusing a state mandate that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I ran the run-and-shoot at San Diego my rookie year with June Jones and Kevin Gilbride, essentially. So I have a pretty good idea of what it takes and what it is,” Leaf told USA Today. “But I don’t think anybody wants me to be a football coach.’’

But would he be willing to do it? “Of course,’’ he said.

The state’s highest-paid employee after signing a five-year, $15.6 million contract in April 2020, 42-year-old Rolovich was fired “for just cause,” which means “all obligations” for the university to “make further payments” or provide him with other benefits “shall cease.” Had Rolovich instead been fired without just cause, he’d still be owed 60% of his remaining base salary. In addition to Rolovich, Washington State also fired four of his assistants over not being vaccinated.

For the time being (and likely for the rest of the season), former defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will serve as Washington State’s acting head coach.

“My No. 1 job today and going forward is that our young people have fear, doubt and uncertainty in their minds and my job is to replace that with faith, trust and belief,” Dickert said during his introductory news conference earlier this week. “I think those three words are the cornerstones of any program, any real culture. I’m a firm believer that adversity is life’s greatest teacher and that’s what I preach to our guys and I think this is going to be another challenge for our guys to continue to learn and grow.”

Dickert, 38, will continue to act as the team’s defensive coordinator and intends to retain the run-and-shoot offense Rolovich brought to the team, so, at least in theory, Leaf could come in and provide some guidance.

Washington State (4-3) is preparing to host BYU on Saturday. “They’re incredibly talented and I think they go out and put a whupping on the BYU Cougars this weekend, to be honest with you,” Leaf said.

If they don’t, perhaps his phone will be ringing.