LARAMIE – University of Wyoming defensive coordinator Jake Dickert, defensive ends coach A.J. Cooper and cornerbacks coach John Richardson will join the defensive staff at Washington State, UW coach Craig Bohl announced in a press release Sunday afternoon.
UW will be replacing its defensive coordinator for the second consecutive year. Dickert was promoted to the post last offseason when former defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton took the same job at Kansas State after leading the Cowboys' defense from 2017-18.
UW boasted one of the top overall defenses in college football under Dickert, who served as the team’s safeties coach from 2017-18. The Cowboys surrendered just 17.8 points per game in 2019, which ranked 11th of 130 teams in college football and second in the Mountain West behind San Diego State.
The Cowboys' strength was up the middle against the run, as the team allowed just 107.1 rushing yards per game (11th nationally). Under Dickert, UW's defense surrendered more than four points per game fewer than it did in 2018.
Dickert also started 2019 as the team's linebackers coach but moved back to coaching the safeties following the dismissal of coach Willie Mack Garza.
Dickert worked under Bohl at North Dakota State from 2008-10 and at Wyoming from 2017-19.
Cooper, who played for North Dakota State, worked in various capacities at his alma mater from 2006-13 and joined Bohl's staff when he became UW's head coach following the 2013 season. Richardson also played at NDSU and served on Bohl's Bison staff from 2011-13 before joining him in Laramie.
While UW had its share of struggles against the pass (105th overall) and gave up 363.8 total yards per game (43rd), the Cowboys clamped down in the red zone, where opponents came away with points just 69% of the time, which ranked sixth nationally.
Senior safety Alijah Halliburton and redshirt senior linebacker Logan Wilson were both first team All-Mountain West selections this season, while Wilson was also a Butkus Award finalist (top linebacker in college football) and was named to several All-American teams. As the team's safeties coach in 2017 and 2018, Dickert coached all-conference stars Marcus Epps and Andrew Wingard.
"Dickert was more than a coach. He really enlightened me, not just with football schemes but with life after football," Halliburton told WyoSports. "He helped me overcome a lot of obstacles in the few years I've had him. He gave me hope. He was one of the only people that knew I could be one of the best safeties not just in the conference, but in the nation. Without him, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't be training for the pros.
"When it came to my success, he was the mastermind behind it all ... He was like an uncle. I'm sad he's leaving the Pokes but I'm happy for him and his family and I wish him nothing but the best. Washington State is getting a hell of a coach."
Dickert, Cooper and Richardson will join new Washington State coach Nick Rolovich's staff, though what capacity it will be in is not yet official. Rolovich spent the past four years as the head coach at Hawaii and led the Warriors to three bowl appearances. Rolovich was named the Cougars' coach last week after Mike Leach left to become coach at Mississippi State. Washington State allowed 31.4 points per game in 2019, which ranked 93rd in the nation.