Washington State has fired head coach Nick Rolovich and will be on the hunt for a new one. Here are five potential head coach candidates for the Washington State Cougars.
1. Jay Norvell
Norvell has helped turn Nevada around during his five seasons at the school. In his first year, the team went 3-9. The team progressed and in 2020 went 7-2, winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at the end of the season. This season, the Wolf Pack currently have a 5-1 record and could be on their way to a Mountain West title. Over his full time at Nevada, Norvell has compiled a record of 30-23.
Not only has Norvell proven that he can coach, but he also would fit in well with the roster currently at Washington State. Norvell has run an offense similar to the air raid at Nevada, which is something that was implemented at Washington State under Mike Leach. If Norvell was hired, he could keep the same players and keep ones that were already being recruited by the school.
2. Alex Grinch
Grinch has moved around a bit as a defensive coordinator. He was a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Washington State from 2015-2017. His next stop was at Ohio State for one season before he left for Oklahoma. He has been there for the last two seasons. In a conference that doesn’t traditionally play good defense, Grinch has helped the Sooners allow just 24.9 points per game.
With Grinch’s ties to Washington State he may be lured back to Pullman. The school might have to get him an offensive coordinator who can work with the talent remaining on the roster. Washington State’s defense already has played decently this season, allowing 25.7 points per game. If he can get the offense rolling, even though it is not his speciality, he can be successful at Washington State.
3. Aaron Best
Aaron Best is a name that not many people will know. He is currently the head coach of Eastern Washington of the FCS level. Best has been the head man since 2017, compiling a 38-14 record along the way. He went to the FCS National Championship in 2018, but lost. This season, the Eagles are currently 7-0 and have plenty of potential.
It may make sense to stay in-state for the hire. Best is from Tacoma, Washington and has proven he can coach in the state. If he can use the same recruiting ties that he has built, but land higher-caliber players, he can be successful at Washington State. His offensive mindset might be appealing to Washington State, who has a fanbase that is used to scoring a lot of points.
4. Brent Brennan
It wasn’t easy or quick, but Brent Brennan turned around San Jose State. After being an offensive assistant at several stops, Brennan decided to sign on as the Spartans’ coach in 2017. He won just three total games in his first two seasons. In 2019, the Spartans won five games. Then, they won seven of eight contests in 2020, which included a Mountain West Championship. They are 4-4 this season, which is still solid for their program history.
Brennan has coached all up and down the west coast during his coaching career. He has the recruiting ties and his ability to turn around one of the lesser-funded teams in all of college football is incredible. Brennan would have a similar uphill battle at Washington State, so it could make sense to hire him.
5. Graham Harrell
Graham Harrell was a quarterback under Mike Leach at Texas Tech. He lit up the scoreboard as a player and is now the offensive coordinator of USC. Harrell started off as an assistant at Oklahoma State, then moved on to Washington State. He received the offensive coordinator job at North Texas before taking the same position at USC. The Trojans have scored 32.9 points per game under the air raid attack.
If Washington State wants a coach who has been at Washington State, Harrell has that box checked. If they want a coach that is going to run the air raid because of the personnel currently on the roster, Harrell has that box checked. On top of those two main qualifiers, they can also take him away from a conference team that is looking for a head coach themselves. Harrell should be able to recruit decently well for the Cougars, as a former NFL player and someone who understands the air raid intricately.
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