Washington State has seen enough.
After leading WSU to a 27-point Apple Cup win and a 3-2 record in his five games as interim head coach, the Cougars officially removed the interim tag from Jake Dickert’s title and lifted the defensive coordinator into the program’s permanent head-coaching job.
Dickert, who becomes WSU’s 34th head football coach, will receive a five-year contract, WSU announced Saturday night. Details of the deal were not immediately available.
“We are thrilled to have Jake Dickert step into the head coaching role,” WSU president Kirk Schulz said in a released statement. “Coach Dickert was able to bring together a team that has been through so much in the past two season and inspire them to not only keep going, but to fight harder. Coach Dickert loves Pullman, understands what it means to be a Coug, and most importantly, puts his players first. He is an asset to this program, and to WSU.
“(Coach Dickert) has the character, vision and plan we need to lead Washington State Football through the next chapter of our storied history. We’ve been able to witness the positive impact he has had on our student-athletes in a very short of period of time. We are thankful the best person to lead our program was already living in Pullman.”
Added Dickert: “I am extremely humbled and honored to be the next head coach at Washington State University. Pullman fits our family so well and we are so excited to be a part of this community for a long time to come.”
Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports was first to report the news Saturday evening. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic and Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel also reported the expected hiring.
Dickert led the Cougars (7-5, 6-3 Pac-12) to three wins in five games as acting coach after former boss Nick Rolovich and four assistants were fired Oct. 18 for failing to comply with a state COVID-19 vaccine requirement.
He added an important accomplishment to his résumé Friday, when WSU ended its Apple Cup misery in memorable fashion.
The Cougars snapped a seven-game drought in the series with a 40-13 blasting of Washington — it was the Pullman program’s most lopsided win in the series and its first victory in Seattle since 2007.
Dickert was pictured postgame holding the Apple Cup trophy high while being embraced by Schulz and school athletic director Pat Chun.
A week earlier, the Cougars qualified for a bowl game with a rout of Arizona.
Dickert, 38, has been vocal about his interest in the long-term position and his desire to remain in Pullman, which he called a “perfect fit” for him and his family.
He considered himself WSU’s “interviewing coach” over the past few weeks.
“That’s out of my hands,” he said after the UW game when asked if the interview is over. “I’m proud and humbled to have this opportunity. These kids have given me everything they had and going forward, they deserve the best. That’s what’s going to come out of all this.
“Whether that’s right for me, we’ll find out soon enough.”
By retaining Dickert, the Cougs will presumably keep most of their staff intact, creating consistency for the future.
Dickert directed a defensive resurgence for WSU, which ranks third in the country in take-aways (27).
And he performed admirably in the top spot, too. Despite losing half its staff, the team played inspired ball and seemed to rally around its new coach, gaining steam late this season.
“When he stepped into that role, he was ready for it, he was prepared,” linebacker Justus Rogers said Friday. “He’s always prepared in everything he does. He works really hard and we respect that and appreciate that, and we give as much as we can back to him because of that.”
On a short and chaotic week of practice, WSU went toe-to-toe with BYU in a 21-19 loss in Dickert’s debut as interim coach. The Cougars rebounded with a blowout of heavily favored Arizona State before a competitive loss at Oregon.
“There’s been a lot to get to this point,” Dickert said. “They’ve given me everything they can and they stayed together, and trusted each other and kept believing.”
Even before Rolovich’s dismissal, Dickert had been tabbed by college football analysts as a candidate who’d land on the radar of several programs in need of a head coach.
Characteristically composed, Dickert worked his way up the ladder, making eight coaching stops before being brought in by Rolovich to mentor the WSU defense early in 2020.
A product of small-town Wisconsin, Dickert got his start at his alma mater, Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He spent seven years in the FCS ranks and three at the D-II level before landing an assistant gig at Wyoming.
After two years as the Cowboys’ safeties coach, he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2019.
This story will be updated.
Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.