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Coug world embraces Moos

Bill Moos cheered up crowds while touring WSU’s campus on Wednesday.  (Tyler Tjomsland)
Bill Moos cheered up crowds while touring WSU’s campus on Wednesday. (Tyler Tjomsland)

Ex-WSU lineman, Oregon A.D. delights fans in return to roots

PULLMAN – If the group in room T101 of the Food Sciences and Human Nutrition Building at Washington State University had their way, Bill Moos would already be the Cougars’ athletic director.

Or, at the very least, head of the local grange.

Moos, the former WSU offensive lineman, athletic administrator and living link to the Cougars’ past, was in town Wednesday on what basically was a date, getting to know WSU President Elson S. Floyd, the athletic department employees and anyone else he would be working with if he’s named Jim Sterk’s replacement.

But as far as the group at the hour-long public forum was concerned, he needed to be hired. Now.

“We need a Cougar,” said former baseball coach and Moos hunting buddy, Bobo Brayton. “We need one bad. You’re the man.”

Floyd, who addressed the crowd first, seemed to understand. He said the Moos courtship was moving quickly and his future WSU employment, either positive or negative, would be determined by the middle of next week.

“I felt it was important, because of the momentum we have in place now, to move as expeditiously as possible,” Floyd said. “I was inundated, frankly, with phone calls, messages, about one person and that was Bill Moos.”

“In 1990 I left Washington State in hopes and dreams and a little bit of expectation to come back,” Moos said. “It took 20 years, but here I am.”

From the moment he limped down the stairs to take the podium – “the turf we had to play on took a toll on my knees,” he said – to his final “Go Cougars,” Moos, the only athletic director candidate WSU has publicly contacted, answered most questions with a story or joke that had its roots in his time in Pullman.

“I played the last football game in Rogers Field,” said Moos, an All-Pac-8 offensive lineman as a senior in 1972, “and the first football game in Martin Stadium.”

Many of those in attendance remembered, and celebrated the possible return of one of their own.

“This is a Cougar party,” is how Moos put it, and the 59-year-old former athletic director at Montana and Oregon was the emcee. But he was also asked about his separation agreement with the Ducks, possible Pac-10 expansion, the future of the Cougars’ programs, financial restraints and a number of other aspects of running WSU’s athletic department.

His agreement with Oregon: When Moos left UO in late 2006, he signed a 10-year no-compete agreement with the university, which pays him $200,000 a year for 10 years. A disagreement over the contract’s intent derailed his recent attempt to become athletic director at UNLV and worried some of those in attendance.

“We’re addressing that as we speak with Oregon,” Moos said before going into a reason behind the agreement.

“Oregon insisted on a no-compete clause because they didn’t want to compete with me and I don’t blame them,” Moos said.

His Cougars roots: Both of Moos’ parents graduated from WSU. He met his wife, Kendra, in Pullman. He started attending Cougars games as a kid. He only ever wanted to be a WSU football player. He worked at the school for eight years in the 1980s but continued to come back whenever possible. When he left Oregon, he moved to Valleyford to raise cattle, ride his tractor and be close to Pullman.

“I was telling my wife,” Moos said, “I could recite and sing the Cougar fight song when I was in the second grade. And she turned to me and said, ‘You should have, you were 14 years old.’ ”

He mentioned WSU greats all the way back to Babe Hollingbery and talked often about “honoring the past.” But he also said he wanted to “enjoy the present,” and “create for the future.”

“We can’t do it overnight, but we can start to make progress overnight,” he said.

On WSU’s athletic future: Moos said the Cougars’ community needs to quit dwelling upon what they don’t have and expand upon what they do. It’s time to take on the role of the hunter, not the hunted, he said.

“You have to think of yourselves as champions, think of yourselves as winners,” Moos said. … You’ve heard through the years (about) Washington State’s location and this and that and we’ve got the smallest budget. Well you can change the smallest budget.”