Feature story on Nick Rolovich, Star Bulletin #30 in UH Football history

HSB Note: “He knows he is remembered fondly — and rightly so — for his masterful work in the 2001 season, when he improbably emerged for a second chance and led Hawaii to a 9-3 record, including 8-1 as a starter. His 20 touchdown passes over the final three games of the season (Miami of Ohio, Air Force, and BYU) is a school record not even Colt Brennan could break. He ranks ninth in UH total offense (4,201 yards) with just 14 games played for his career, and his 300.1 yards per game is third only to Brennan and Tim Chang.”

About how he struggled with UH’s offense when he started in his first season at UH, especially since he didn’t work his hardest to learn the offense, Rolo said:
“The offense as a scheme humbled me. I didn’t have very good discipline as far as priorities, how I spent my time. First time away from home, got a little wild. I was lucky I came back, and I think by being benched in 2000, helped me understand that that wasn’t going to get me anywhere if I wanted football to continue for me.” (HSB)

About how he hid his hurt over his struggles, Rolo said:
“I think I’m extroverted anyway, but inside I was, I guess. hurting is the right word. I’d become friends with a lot of the guys, and I felt like I’d let them down. I thought I’d let Coach June (Jones) down. You know, I think if I’d prepared better I could have at least given a better performance. I was disappointed in myself, really.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “He swore to earn back his coach’s trust, and that of his teammates. He put in time in the film room in the early mornings, leaving notes for Jones that if he wanted to watch film with him, he’d be there. But Rolovich mentally prepared himself for life beyond football. By 2001, he was ready to become a firefighter, following his father and several others in his family. Only the attacks of Sept. 11 nixed his scheduled firefighter’s test, when UH’s road game at Nevada was delayed.”

About starting after Timmy Chang was injured after UH’s 3rd game of the season, Rolo talked about how they started his first game losing 17-3 to SMU at the half, Rolo said:
“We were on the road, and the first half wasn’t really good. I remember Chris Brown grabbed me when we walked into halftime, telling me how everybody believed in me, and I’d better get my stuff together because they knew I could do it.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Rolovich then began what would become a recurring theme: second-half heroics that galvanized the state. The Warriors came back to beat the Mustangs in overtime. When No. 18 Fresno State picked him off on back-to-back balls the next game, he knew the defense would come through for him, and it did. Rolo shook off his struggles for the game-winning “Jumpball to Lelie” play in the corner of the end zone with 13 seconds left to beat the Bulldogs 38-34. His confidence and knowledge of the offense grew with each contest. By the time the Warriors squared off against the then-unbeaten BYU Cougars in the season finale, everything was perfectly aligned. He could see things develop before they happened. The difference: This time it hadn’t come easy. It was a result of those early hours in the film room. A result of time spent with the likes of Lelie, Brown, Thero Mitchell, Craig Stutzmann, and Vince Manuwai to go over each game immediately after it ended. A result of countless pizzas bought for his offensive linemen — one for each 300-yard game in a win.”

About how their team came together in 2001, Brian Smith (the starting center) said:
“That’s all part of what made the 2001 year so special. The comraderie that built amongst the team and the friendships that were made. That’s what ended up being important, and that’s where players ended up playing a lot harder for each other. That’s where having Rolo as a leader really made that 2001 year possible.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Rolo tagged UH’s hated rivals for a school record eight touchdowns (another mark that survived the Brennan era) and 543 yards in the 72-45 blowout. In the process, he put an exclamation point on a season that went a long way toward creating Hawaii’s own bowl game. Though touchdowns over a three-game span aren’t tracked as a record, an NCAA record-keeper said Rolo’s 20 TDs in the last three games ranks among the highest all-time.”



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