‘I love Pullman. It’s okay with me.’ Washington State Interim Coach Jake Dickert Has Paid His Dues During Steady Rise in the Coaching Ladder
PULLMAN – When Jake Dickert’s coaching career is over, he imagines his retired days will be spent relaxing on a porch, soaking up the calming views of a rural setting.
Washington state’s new interim football coach feels more comfortable in a small town environment.
He was raised in pastoral Wisconsin. And throughout his 14-year coaching career, Dickert has looked to jobs in low-income communities, mostly blue-collar workers.
âIt shaped who I am,â Dickert told Cougar radio ace Matt Chazanow in April 2020, about three months after he was hired to become a defensive coordinator at the WSU. âI like to say that I come from humble beginnings.
“At some point, I always say I’m going to have a humble end.”
Preferably, what would be his daily routine after football?
âI’m just going to be sitting in a rocking chair watching a cornfield when this is all over. “
Chazanow interjected: âWheat field.
It’s too early to tell if Dickert’s long-term future lies between rolling hills, rolling grain and the tranquility of the Palouse.
But this area certainly fits the education of the 38-year-old. He owns a house in Pullman – a backyard trampoline and everything – where he resides with his wife, Candice, and their three young children.
âThis is how I grew up,â Dickert said Tuesday at a press conference. âSmall towns, that’s what I know. Great people, that’s what I know. When the motorhomes come to town, it takes me 10 minutes to get to work, and that’s a lot of traffic for me.
âI love Pullman. It’s okay with me. It fits our family and we are blessed to be here.
Unenviable weight was placed on Dickert’s shoulders on Monday when coach Nick Rolovich and four Cougar assistants were fired for failing to meet a state vaccination mandate against COVID-19.
If Dickert can keep this WSU ship afloat for the team’s last five games, maybe the Cougs management will ask him to stay and get more familiar with these wheat fields.
WSU sporting director Pat Chun said on a radio show on Tuesday that Dickert would be considered for the post-season head coach position.
When the Cougars host BYU on Saturday, it will be Dickert’s career debut in the role.
âEvery once in a while we meet someone who you think is preparing for this chance, this opportunity in their career,â school president Kirk Schulz said Tuesday, âand that’s what we’ve got in it. Coach Dickert. “
Dickert paid his dues and rose steadily up the coaching ladder, making eight pit stops nine years earlier in his career. His breakthrough came in Wyoming under the guidance of coach Craig Bohl, whom Dickert considers “my greatest mentor in this game and possibly the man who shaped me the most,” he said. Tuesday.
He was Bohl’s safety coach for two seasons before being promoted to DC in 2019.
Former employers include the State of North Dakota, State of South Dakota, South Dakota, Southeast State of Missouri, State of Minnesota, and Augustana – all sub-FBS schools located in towns with populations similar to Pullman.
The only exception is Fargo, North Dakota, which has about 120,000 people. It appears to be the largest city Dickert has ever lived in.
He spent his time growing up in two cities in Wisconsin, each with less than 5,000 residents. Dickert played high school quarterback and signed to play in Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point as a caller before being switched to wide receiver, a position in which he excelled.
“What I like to share about my experience with the players is that I sold raffle tickets to get shorts and a t-shirt for the fall camp,” he told Chazanow on his college days.
After his playing career ended in 2006, Dickert asked UW-Stevens Point coach John Miech about his chances of remaining as a graduate assistant.
He was granted clearance to join the staff but was transferred to defense because his brother, Jesse, was playing center of the squad and Miech thought it would be wise to separate the Dickerts.
âOur coach said, ‘If you want to get into this coaching contract, I want you to be on the other side of the ball. It will help you with your experience later, âDickert said on the 2020 radio show.â The idea was that I would always come back to attacking training. â
Any idea about it was quickly dispelled in 2008, when Dickert teamed up with Bohl in North Dakota state and spent three years with the FCS Bison heavyweight as a defensive assistant. He said those seasons laid the foundation for his coaching style, both schematically and personally.
Dickert is optimistic and conversational. When he was introduced Tuesday as the Cougars’ interim boss, he came across as honest, thoughtful and yes, humble.
He spoke of unity and professionalism and described âfaith, trust and beliefâ as the cornerstones of the program for the future.
Yet at the forefront of his 30-minute speech were the Cougar players, the oldest of whom have gone through too much heartache and turmoil in the past four years.
“We (the coaches) are ready to do whatever is possible for this team,” he said.
Dickert might not show off the flamboyance of former coach Mike Leach and, to some extent, Rolovich.
He seems more straightforward, easy going, and could definitely be classified as a player coach.
Dickert has said in previous media sessions that he is sticking to this career primarily to support young people and foster growth. According to Cougfan.com, he had planned to become a teacher before the training started to work.
In several cases, after quality Cougar performances, it has taken all the credit away from the athletes.
âThe message to them is this: I really hope that when you put on that helmet and we practice for two hours, and we’re at Martin Stadium, they really remember why they like this game and why they really like it. like, âhe said. said Tuesday, “and why they’re all here, and the opportunity for them to move forward that they’ve built, not me.” They built this opportunity on what we can still accomplish this season.
Yet the designs Dickert has installed over the past 18 months are starting to turn heads.
The WSU defense has taken its philosophies to heart and is in the midst of a resurgence. The unit has a knack for timing games that change momentum and is part of the national elite to force take-out. Dickert emphasizes attacking the ball and a ‘bend but don’t break’ mindset.
He has been named as a head coach candidate by some college football analysts for revamping a Cougar defense that hasn’t been stellar in recent years.
Dickert’s schemes are inventive. Cougar advocates seem to move freely before the snap and they conceal their tendencies well. WSU makes up some unique and disruptive lineups – especially in third downs, when the Cougars sometimes trot four rushers and put linebackers above guards.
A few players were recently asked to detail what sets Dickert apart as a coach.
âI really like his attention to detail in practice,â said safety Daniel Isom. âHe’s really tough on us for a good reason. He wants to make sure everything is done before the end of the week.
More important than X’s and Bones, however, is what Dickert called âCode Cougs,â a simplified set of principles that define his defenses.
âIt’s a state of mind of hard play, fast play and play together,â he said last October. âWhen you’re willing to sacrifice more for the group than for your own satisfaction and reward, that’s something special.
âWe want to play as a unit. We don’t want to point fingers at mistakes. We want to build each other up. It’s the heart of what we do. It has nothing to do with the scheme. It’s what’s inside every man.
Dickert will be more involved on offense than he has been since his college days at UW-Stevens Point. He doesn’t plan on fine-tuning WSU’s running and shooting principles, but he will offer advice through a defensive lens while retaining his DC duties.
On Rolovich and the vaccine
Dickert said he would always be grateful for the opportunity presented to him when Rolovich hired him in Wyoming in early 2020 for his first job in Power Five.
âHe had faith in me, he believed in me and he’s given me everything since I’ve been here to be successful,â Dickert said.
The two had a brief conversation before Rolovich was fired.
âWhen we find ourselves in these situations it’s tough and it’s a challenge, but I think (Rolovich) wants our guys to move on,â he said.
âWe have always respected the coach, we have always respected his decisions. That day has arrived and I really believe in my heart that the coach wants us to keep moving forward and building on the base.
Rolovich “always believed he was going to be here,” so Dickert went about his business regularly as DC until he got a word Monday night from Chun, asking him to take over as DC. as interim coach.
Rolovich, who refused to be vaccinated, was fired after his request for a religious exemption was rejected by a blind committee.
Dickert received a COVID-19 vaccine in May.
âAt the time, it was a rallying cry to try to bring all of our (back) fans back,â he said. âI was trying to support and use my voice and awareness because I knew I was trying to do something for the players. They deserve people to applaud.