After 34 years at the helm of the Mater Dei High School (Calif.) football program, head coach Bruce Rollinson is calling it a career. The announcement came Thursday before Monarch’s playoff game against JSerra (Calif.) on Friday night.
“I have recently decided that this year will be my last year as the head coach of Mater Dei football,” Rollinson said in a written statement. “Having played at Mater Dei over 50 years ago, 47 years as a coach at Mater Dei and 34 years as a head coach, making this decision at this time with the entire starting lineup returning next year should make it easier for the next coach and Mater Dei to continue our winning tradition.
“During the months following the season, I am blessed to be able to assist closely in the efforts to select the new head coach. And in the future, I am committed to supporting the program in any way I can.”
Mater Dei released the full statement via Twitter:
Rock and roll baby ❤️🤍
— Mater Dei Football (@MDFootball) November 11, 2022
Rollinson’s teams are some of the best in the country and have finished at the top USA TODAY Sports Super 25 record-tying five times. (If the current Monarchs team hangs tough through the playoffs, it will likely be the program’s sixth No. 1 finish in the poll, dating back to 1982.)
His athletes were a significant part of the legacy, a long list of talented players, two of whom won the Heisman Trophy — Matt Leinart and Bryce Young — and a championship-caliber pedigree that garnered college teams from west to east, north and south.
It’s hard to ignore, however, that Rollinson is also leaving under a current shadow of controversy that has been quiet in public circles since the family of a former Mater Dei football player filed a lawsuit that describes a culture of undervaluing.
According to reports in filing in court, the suing family’s son suffered a traumatic brain injury while part of the Monarchs program. The charges include negligence and failure to warn, train or educate — all violations of the California Penal Code.
Whether these circumstances were part of the head coach’s decision remains to be seen.