The world's slowest collision: Rolovich vs. Wazzu

The firing of Nick Rolovich was as inevitable as the lawsuit that has since followed, and I refuse to care more about another man's continued employment than he does.

More Catholic than the pope? Apparently Nick Rolovich thinks so, and Jimmy Lake says he’s “nowhere near” a change at quarterback.

That’s all on tap for today’s Newsletter, but first Christian Caple and I recorded the second episode of our Washington Huskies’ podcast, the first with its name: All I Saw Was Podcast. Shout out to Matt for the name suggestion. Also, I’m louder this week as if anyone needed that:

Now let’s get to the newsletter whose motto is, “Worth at least the price you paid for it!”

Nick Rolovich was a my-way-or-the-highway kind of coach.

We saw that a year ago when he threatened a player’s scholarship status if he was part of organized action among Pac-12 student athletes.

Rolovich just didn’t show the same deference to his bosses that he demanded of his players, which is one of several reasons it’s hard to feel sorry that Rolovich lost his job as Washington State head coach. Having recently been let go, I’m not indifferent to the loss of income, but being the only coach in the big-boy division of college football known to be unvaccinated seems like a poorly thought-out hill to get fired on.

Also, this outcome seemed pretty inevitable. When he announced back in August that he’d be appearing remotely at the Pac-12 Media Day because he was not vaccinated, it was hard to see how this situation was going to resolve itself without Rolovich getting innoculated. That became increasingly clear over the weeks that followed, and whether the glacial pace was out of a sense of fairness — and not treating Rolovich differently than other school employees who had not been vaccinated — or it was motivated by a desire to make the sure the firing was judgment proof, there was certainly no surprise at the ultimate resolution. It had been headed this way for months.

Now a couple of things to make clear: I am vaccinated, I don’t object to vaccine mandates. I don’t see them as different from the vaccination requirements to attend public school. I think widespread vaccination is our best path to minimize further harm by this pandemic. Those are just my opinions. As a factual matter, I refuse to care more about someone else’s continued employment than they do. This goes for Rolovich as well as Nets star Kyrie Irving. If they don’t care enough about their job to follow the requirements of their employer to retain that job, I’m not going to argue that they should stay employed and I’m not going to get all huffy about how they need to get vaccinated. If they don’t want to hold that job, they don’t have to. I understand the issue of visibility and messaging, and the decisions made by Rolovich and Irving have impact in that regard. But this country is full of kooky people, man, and if the past few months has shown anything, it’s that social media has only enhanced the ability to see that kookiness and instead of getting mad about what Nikki Minaj said happened to her cousin’s friend’s balls, I think we should ask why we need to contrast medical consensus in our country against the condition of this rumored testicle as if those things merit equal consideration. They do not. And I believe all the indignation over the reluctance of specific famous people to be vaccinated does not make anyone more likely to get the vaccination. /rant

As for what happens next, a lawsuit for wrongful termination was as inevitable as Rolovich’s firing, and that pending action was announced by a Kenmore attorney yesterday.

I am not going to evaluate the legality of Governor Jay Inslee’s mandate because, frankly, you can find someone more qualified to do that with more expertise than me. What I will say is that I find Rolovich’s refusal to follow the guidelines of his employer wildly hypocritical given the hardline stance he outlined to one of his players regarding student-athlete organizing among Pac-12 players a year ago. He threatened Kassidy Woods’ future scholarship status, in a conversation Woods recorded. Rolovich asked if Woods was opting out of the 2020 season for health reasons or if it was part of an organized action, indicating if it was the latter that would be handled differently down the road. Rolovich tried to backtrack the next day, saying he was proud of the students for organizing, but earlier this year Woods filed suit against Rolovich and Washington State.

Rolovich appears very much to be one of those because-I-said-so kind of coaches. Controlling. He’s not alone in this regard. For several generations now football coaches have presided over their teams as if they are small fiefdoms, telling players the importance of working for the collective good and not a personal agenda. Demanding discipline to perform their respective job as described for them no matter what happens. Now that guy is raging at the machine with some real forget-that-I-won’t-do-what-they-tell-me energy. This is not ironic, and it’s not even weird. It’s just incredibly contradictory.

Rolovich never explained his rationale for refusing to be vaccinated. In fact, he wouldn’t even address whether he planned to take the vaccine only that he would follow the mandate. On Wednesday, an attorney representing Rolovich said — in a release announcing the intention to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination — that Rolovich has been “demonized, derided, and ultimately fired from his job, merely for being devout in his Catholic faith.” Well, I do know more about being Catholic than I do about being lawyer, and no less an authority than the Pope called the COVID-19 vaccines “morally acceptable.” The objection that some Catholics have raised is based upon the type of cells in the development of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and in the testing of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Church doctrine has laid out pretty clearly the vaccines do not compromise the moral teaching of the church. More specifically: if that’s the basis for the objection, well, there are a whole lot of products ranging from Tylenol to common antacids that are tested using the same types of cells as the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines so if you use those products, why’re you objecting to the vaccine?

A rock and a Huard place?

On Monday, amidst my grousing about a rough weekend for local football, I suggested giving freshman Sam Huard an opportunity. I neglected to mention one thing: If he wants it. If Huard – or more accurately his family – would prefer a redshirt year, my impatience or opinion doesn’t matter one bit. I add that only because of Jimmy Lake’s comment on Monday:

Now, if that’s because the player is committed to redshirting, fine. And if that’s because Lake needs to take that position right up until the point Huard actually takes the field, great. But if that’s because Lake is really committed to the direction that this team is heading after six games? Yikes.

And finally, the kicker to this newsletter is about kickers!

This, unsurprisingly, led to a number of hilarious names for kickers:

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