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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

WSU’s Jake Dickert on report linking him to Michigan State: ‘We’re focused on right here, right now’

Cougars head coach Jake Dickert watches his team during a game Sept. 2 at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Jake Dickert wants to narrow his Washington State team’s focus and move it away from reports about his candidacy for head coaching jobs elsewhere.

Essentially, that’s the way he responded on Monday to a question about The Athletic naming him a “strong candidate” for the head coaching opening at Michigan State.

“I have not talked to any university out there, and we’re focused on right here, right now and what we’re gonna do with this team, ” Dickert said.

Generally speaking, coaches have agents who can lead the charge in gauging other institutions’ interest in their clients and negotiating new deals.

The Athletic’s report, which surfaced Friday morning, named two current head coaches as “strong candidates” to replace fired coach Mel Tucker: Dickert and Lance Leipold, the head coach at Kansas. Under a header that reads “Who are currently atop the Spartans’ list?” is Dickert’s name, then this sampling: “Having coached at all levels of college football, Dickert has unique perspective on the game and that seems to have really helped shape him.”

Dickert, hired as WSU’s full-time head coach in November 2021, is under contract through the 2027 season thanks to a one-year extension he signed in January.

No. 13 Washington State, off to a 4-0 start ahead of this weekend’s road tilt against UCLA, owns two ranked wins in three weeks. Quarterback Cameron Ward is a sleeper Heisman Trophy candidate, and the Cougs have earned their highest rank in five years. That hot start, Dickert said, contributed to the report gaining traction.

Here is the rest of Dickert’s response.

“These are the things that come with team success,” Dickert said. “We wouldn’t be talking about this if we were 2-2. We wouldn’t be talking about these things if we were 0-4. So these are the things that come with success. I love my job. I love being here. We’re focused on right here, right now. Not on the past, not on the future – this team and what it means to everybody in the building, and getting back to football is really important. So that’s the thing with social media.”

Dickert on College Gameday’s shot at WSU: ‘They responded to it, and it’s over’

Dickert, it appears, is ready to move on from the beef between ESPN’s College Gameday and Washington State.

At Monday’s news conference, asked about Gameday host Pat McAfee making a number of disparaging remarks about the Cougs and flag Ol’ Crimson’s presence on the show, Dickert said, “I’m gonna defend our team. I’m gonna stand up for the team.”

“I never took back what I said. I took back the absolute tone and how I said it,” Dickert said, referring to his comments last week, when he shared he buried things with host Lee Corso. “And they responded to it, and it’s over. Let’s let Ol’ Crimson fly in all her glory. Let’s let her fly. I mean that. Let’s move on.

“Cougs, I feel the passion, and I love it. Let’s place that passion back on the games. Let’s pack Gesa Field for homecoming. We’re not sold out yet. Let’s show our passion and donate to the CAF (Cougar Athletic Fund) and our NIL initiatives. There’s so many places to really put our passion. So I’m excited about all that. And we’re moving on and we’re focused on UCLA.”

During Saturday’s show, McAfee expressed his dislike for Ol’ Crimson, which made its 292nd consecutive appearance, and how it flew even during the Cougars’ down years.

“Shut up, Washington State,” McAfee said. “I’m about sick of you wasting time on this show.”