PULLMAN – Bill Moos was between jobs. So he was spending some time with an old friend, Dennis Erickson, in Coeur d’Alene.
Erickson was in his second-stint – a one-year stop – as the University of Idaho’s football coach. The future of Bill’s son Bo, a senior defensive end at Sheldon High in Eugene, came up in conversation.
“Out of the blue, Dennis goes, ‘well, Bo’s got a scholarship,’ “ says Bill this week. “I said, ‘I’ll send you some video.’ Dennis says, ‘doesn’t matter. I know his parents and I know his grandparents and if he’s made of the same stock, he’s coming. That’s a done deal.’ “
“He had pretty good bloodline,” Erickson echoes, “and I’m talking about Kendra, his mother.”
Thanks to the genes supplied by his mother, Bo Moos has developed into a solid college defensive tackle for Arizona State.
The operative word in the above sentence is “developed.”
“He’s actually a great example of how college athletics can mold and develop young people,” Bill says. “He had some challenges in transition regarding health issues, academics and playing time, which is more common than not.”
The elder Moos should know. Since playing football at Washington State in the late 1960s – his freshman coach was Dennis’ dad, Pink – Moos has spent majority of his life in college athletic administration, finally achieving his dream job – WSU athletic director – a couple years ago.
Saturday night Bill will be in the athletic director’s box – along with Erickson’s mother, Mary – at Martin Stadium watching the Cougars try to pound out yardage against the ASU defense, anchored by fifth-year senior Bo Moos.
Mom will be in her usual spot in the stands among the other Sun Devil parents, probably freezing, certainly proud. It’s an emotion she’ll share with her husband and son.
“I’ll be real proud of him, I’ll be proud to hear his name announced,” the athletic director says. “That’s the same field where his dad played 40 years ago. It’s really something.”
Bill still carries a picture of Bo in his phone. He’s just a baby, dressed in a WSU sweater knitted by a Cougar staff member. Heck, one of the first baby gifts the Moos’ received was from Dennis and his wife Marilyn. It was a mini WSU letter jacket.
“That’s Cougar family stuff,” Bill says.
But Bill didn’t stay a Cougar employee. He moved to Montana and then on to Oregon, where he built athletic programs and a reputation. He and Kendra’s children, daughters Christa, Brittany and son Bo – the only one born in Pullman – tagged along, with Kaiti and Ben arriving in Oregon.
Bo became a Duck fan, following dad along to the UO athletic events, growing up in Eugene, starring at Sheldon High, always wanting to play at Autzen Stadium.
But dad’s tenure at Oregon ended poorly, and though Bill says the Ducks were willing to offer a scholarship as long as Bo grayshirted, there was no chance.
“I really felt shorted and a lot of me, to be honest, felt like some of it had to do with his situation,” Bo says. “That was the most heartbreaking thing for me. Obviously, I’m going to take his side, regardless. At that point, I wouldn’t have gone there anyway.”
The plan was for Bo to head to Moscow and play for Erickson. Except, during Bo’s visit, Erickson dropped a bombshell. He was headed to Arizona State.
And Bo followed.
Like many college students, the first couple years at Arizona State Bo questioned everything. But unlike most of his peers, his questions revolved around football.
“The first I questioned (if ASU was right) heavily,” he says. “I wondered at that point if college football was the right thing for me. I guess you could say I was discouraged and didn’t really see myself having a significant role.”
His dad gave counsel, revolving around making every second count. The 6-foot, 286-pound son listened and holes opened. Bo was there to plug them. Last year he started a few games – he was injured in the Sun Devils game with WSU – and this season he’s grown into a solid starter – and leader.
“To his credit, he overcame those challenges and developed into a real good football player and a solid leader on a very good football team,” Bill says.
“He had those intangibles,” Erickson says. “He is a good athlete. He got bigger and stronger. And he’s just been a real steady player for us, a real leader for us. I’m real proud of what he’s done here.”
Come Saturday, Bo, Bill and the rest of the Moos clan will remember the days in the basement, dad with the football tucked under an arm, young Bo in a football uniform, trying to make a tackle and probably shed a tear or two.
Maybe even Bo, who understands how important his appearance at Martin Stadium is to his father.
“This is a special moment for them, as it is me,” he says. “It’s just perfect because this is, really, his dream position. Being able to be the athletic director, doing the job he loves at his alma mater, and to be able to see me play up there in the stadium he played in.
“That’s huge. So I’m really excited about it.”