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Transcript: Washington State’s Nick Rolovich talks about empty stadiums, state of college football during Pac-12 webinar

New Washington State University head football coach Nick Rolovich speaks at his introductory press conference at the university on Jan. 16, 2020 in Pullman, Wash. Rolovich coached at University of Hawaii for eight seasons, the last four as head coach, and officially replaced Mike Leach this week. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

In the first of a three-part media webinar with head coaches from the Pac-12 Conference, Washington State’s Nick Rolovich joined Stanford’s David Shaw, USC’s Clay Helton and the Pac-12 Network’s Yogi Roth to discuss the current state of college football amid the COVID-19 pandemic, contingency plans for the 2020 season and the possibility of playing an 11-game conference schedule.

Below is a full transcript of everything Rolovich said during the afternoon webinar.

Question: How have you taken the principles from your dad and applied to them now leading all these men at a really unique time in the world?

Rolovich: “My dad was a fireman. One of his sayings was, ‘Never eat soup in the rain. You’ll never finish.’ Which has been good advice moving forward. The other thing he always said was, ‘It’s all in your head. It’s all in your head.’ It got me into visualization and really if you put your mind into it, you can make some stuff happen.”

Q: You haven’t had a ton of time around your guys but you were able to get to know them a little bit early on. How have you been able to stay connected?

Rolovich: “Well, as much as we can through Zoom. But it’s really allowed us to focus on those personal relationships. We can’t do a lot of football stuff. We can install some, but it’s more about, it gave us real time to concentrate on getting to know who our guys are and let them figure out who we are as people and I think it’s been productive and just excited to get on the field when we can.”

Q: Up where you live, I believe there’s only been 19 cases in the county which you guys reside. What’s the process been like regarding being in the state you’re in, the region you’re in, COVID-19 has not overtaken it like it has other parts of the Pac-12?

Rolovich: “No, it hasn’t, which has been a blessing for the people that are here and the students that are still here. It’s just one of the strange realities of our current situation is some areas are affected more and state lines trump kind of regions at this point. We’re all in with Washington and I think everyone’s trying to do the right thing. We’ve just been, we haven’t had it as bad as some other regions of the West Coast.”

Q: In your previous job, the legend is you’d show up at media days – which will be virtual this year here in the Pac-12 – and you’d bring a gift for every coaching staff, for every head coach from the region which you came from. Do you plan on doing that in the Pac-12 and if so, can we get a little insight?

Rolovich: “Well I think it was a small thing, but the coaches that bought in it really gave us a camaraderie that coach Shaw spoke about this conference already, and it helped us uplift the whole conference I think. And I would probably bring some Cougar Gold Cheese if I was going to do it this year. But guys got into it and I think it kind of lightened it up a little bit and kind of gave us all kind of a human element that maybe we’re not always able to put out there. So, I think it was good and maybe when we get back to meeting in person I think we’ll get something going.”

Q: The notion of playing in empty stadiums has been a scenario that’s been discussed for a lot of other sports. College football obviously is pretty different in many ways. How reasonable do you guys think that would be to be able to play a game in an empty college football stadium and what would be your biggest logistical concern in keeping players safe?

Rolovich: “I think it’d save a lot of time on silent count practice. There’s one. I think in general if we feel it’s safe enough to play, then I’d like to play. I know the fans is part of the experience, I think it’s also part of the financial model. But that’s not in my job description, so we’re just trying to hopefully get some games this fall.”

Q: In your coaching career, you’ve never been away from your teams for this long. What’s the main thing you’re really worried about when you finally get your team back together?

Rolovich: “Making sure we give them enough time to get physically ready for a season. That’s one of the things for me. I actually think the positives of this – because these guys don’t get a lot of time away from the building with their family. I think we were going to try to find a way to get them a few more weeks with their families and we got a little bit more than we talked about. But I think it’s given them a good opportunity to reset, see why they’re really doing it. But for me it’s them getting back and us as coaches and administrators, making sure they have enough time to get physically ready for a football season.”

Q: What do you consider in your own mind to be a legitimate playoff, if there’s only half the conferences participating, is that valid if only some of the schools from some of the conferences are playing?

Rolovich: “In my mind I’m planning on playing Utah State game one, so I don’t have a comment really about that other thing you asked about. I’m optimistic about going with the 12 we’ve got until they tell me differently.”