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Rolin would bring a Jim Harbaugh mentality, but also so much more

Northern coaching candidate Andrew Rolin has an impressive background, on and off the field

 

December 15, 2017

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Andrew Rolin, a former University of San Diego quarterback under Jim Harbaugh, speaks to the Northern and Havre community Thursday in Hensler Auditorium. Rolin is a finalist for the vacant head football job at MSU-Northern. He coached at San Diego, the University of Washington and San Jose State before he and his family moved to Libby last year.

Jim Harbaugh, Steve Sarkisian, Ron Caragher, the list of coaches Andrew Rolin has played for or coached under is impressive to say the least. And the schools he's been at, San Diego, the University of Washington, San Jose State, they're impressive NCAA Division I schools.

So no doubt Rolin, a native of southern California who played quarterback for Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, would bring an impressive resume with him to Montana State University-Northern, a position he interviewed for Thursday afternoon. But he would also bring so much more, including his own beliefs, his own vision for the Lights' football program and his own standards for what he wants his football team to be, on and off the field.

"There's a lot of Jim Harbaugh in me," Rolin said at a public forum inside Hensler Auditorium. "What you see with him on TV, that's really him. He's real, it's real. I respect that so much about him, that he is who he is and he doesn't change. He's been a mentor to me, and I've learned so much from him.

"But at the same time, I'm the same in that I'm going to be who I am," he continued. "I plan on being myself."

And who Andrew Rolin is and what he could bring to the Northern football program is impressive. He's been an assistant coach at top NCAA Division I schools, and he played at a high level himself. As a San Diego Torero, Rolin helped the program to three straight Pioneer League championships. So to some it might seem strange that Rolin, who has lived and coached at so many bigger schools and in major metropolitan areas, ended up in Montana and in a position to pursue the vacant Northern job.

However, because of who Rolin is, he is now in a position to do exactly that.

"This past year has really defined who I am," Rolin said. "Life has really turned for us. We decided to take a sabbatical from college football, and move to Libby (Montana) where my wife's father and mother live. And it's been a huge blessing. It's been amazing to come here and be in Montana."

Rolin didn't completely step away from football altogether, though. He was able to be Libby High's offensive coordinator this past season. And with that season now over, Rolin says he's ready for the next challenge, and he knows and understands the challenges that are in front of whoever becomes the next head coach at Northern.

"I like a challenge," he said. "And I know it's a big challenge, especially in the beginning. But I accept that. I feel like I thrive on challenges, and this opportunity is very exciting to me.

"I think the other big thing is, it's a special place," he continued. "Montana is a bit of a throwback. It's unique, and there's a huge pull to Montana for me. I think Havre is a special place, this university is a special place and this program has the potential to be great. So why not? Why not us? It's a very exciting opportunity."

And listening to Rolin speak to members of the Northern and Havre community for over an hour Thursday, he not only believes Northern can be special on the football field, but he also has a plan to help the Lights get there.

"I think you have to create a culture of winning," he said, "and that starts with the details, the little things, day-to-day. Setting a high standard in everything we do, on the football field, academically and in the community. Everybody being held to that standard. All of us. You do that and the scoreboard will take care of itself. If we do that, we will be successful."

And Rolin isn't shy about setting high standards for the future of the Northern program.

"I have four goals as a head coach," Rolin said. "Graduate, beat your rival, win the Frontier Conference and win a national championship. And I can tell you that we'll do everything we can, every single day to achieve those goals. Those are high goals, but that's what I believe. And I believe we can do that here. I want this program, and our student-athletes to be successful, and I'll work relentlessly to help that happen."

Recruiting and creating a family atmosphere are chief among Rolin's beliefs in how to achieve those goals at Northern. He says he strongly believes in recruiting the state of Montana, and creating a culture of being a tight-knit football team, on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

"There are quality football players in this state," Rolin said. "It's about selling yourself to the kids, selling myself as a head coach to them, their parents and to their high school coaches. And selling Northern to them. Getting them excited about coming here to be Lights, and to know that they're going to succeed. Making sure they know they can succeed here, not just in football, but in all phases of life. There's so much potential and opportunity here for student-athletes. That potential just has to be tapped.

"And as a team, we're going to be a family in everything we do," he continued. "On and off the field. That's really important to me. You have to stick together. My goal is to make us a very tight-knit family as a football program."

Challenges, family, academics, standards, accountability, culture, winning, relentless, all of those words are ones that Rolin used and spoke passionately about as he expressed his feelings about wanting to be the Lights' next head coach. And in listening to him express those feelings, it was easy to see, it's not lip-service, or coach-speak - no, Rolin truly believes in himself and his philosophies for on the field and for off it. He certainly speaks from the heart, and he would bring that heart and passion for football, and life to Northern.

And he also believes Northern is a place where college football can succeed.

"I'm aware of the struggles this program has had," Rolin said, "but there's so much great potential here. It's a great opportunity, and you know it when you listen to Mr. (Greg) Kegel, and the administration and everybody talk about the vision for the future of not only this football program, but this entire university. It's a special place, and I feel like it's a place where there is so much potential. That potential just needs to be tapped, and I hope I'm the right guy to do that."

 

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