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WA wildfires could force WSU to relocate, reschedule PSU game

The wildfires that have ravaged eastern Washington during this abnormally hot and dry summer have been a thorn in Bill Moos' side. The fires in early June threatened the ranch near Spokane owned by the Washington State athletic director, and he recently took his family to barn dance that may as well have been held in one of his meat smokers.

And now, the fires are threatening his football team's home opener against the Portland State Vikings. The air quality in Pullman is a real concern, and the Cougars have already moved one practice indoors because the Air Quality Index (AQI) was above 150—any number higher is considered unhealthy.

With fans to consider, the Cougars likely have to hold themselves to an even stricter standard because an AQI above 100 is considered unhealthy for children and the elderly, as well as people with asthma, lung disease or other vulnerabilities.

"We're watching it really close," Moos said. "Of course we are concerned about the health and safety of our student athletes and our fans, as well as coaches and staff. I'm hoping we will get some relief with some rain. We're testing it every day."

With that in mind, Moos says that WSU is exploring options to relocate or reschedule the game. Sources indicate that the Cougars have reached out to the University of Idaho about potentially holding the game in the Kibbie Dome, likely a worse-case scenario given that particular venue holds 16,000 seats—fewer than the Cougars have probably sold for the home opener (ticket information will be available early next week).

"That could be an option," Moos said. "There haven't been any real, formal talks in regards to we are going to do that or not. But I think it's important that we explore options. My staff, though, has been focusing on a normal game day procedure in Martin."

In addition to returning tickets to fans, the Cougars would also face the logistical nightmare of dealing with already disgruntled fans who made travel arrangements or booked hotel rooms. I, for one, would not envy whoever had to figure out the new parking provisions for those fans who could attend the game, to say nothing of dealing with boosters that paid big money for suites to which they would not have access.

Of course, other venues exist.

"The Kibbie Dome would not be the only option in my mind, there are other options where maybe we could go," Moos said. "We want to play the game. Another option is, can we reschedule it? That's happened before when you look back September 11th, and those things, people had to get creative with their schedules.

So, it may be easier to reschedule the game, if it comes to that. It won't be easy, the Cougars and Vikings don't have any open dates that align, but the teams could potentially reschedule for after the Apple Cup.

It may be easier than usual to reschedule because the Vikings are likely to bus to the game. What's certain is that both teams want to play. The Cougars could use what should almost certainly be a win as they try to return to a bowl game, and the PSU program really needs the $525,000 paycheck from the game.

The good news is that none of this may matter. The AQI is Pullman right now is 95, the lowest it has been in in some time by a good margin. The Cougars are planning to practice outdoors this afternoon and if the Palouse can just get some wind or a little rain, the Cougars should have no problem opening their season as scheduled.

Morning links: WSU introduces new baseball coach Marty Lees

One day after Washington State announced that Marty Lees will take over the Cougars baseball program, the new coach was officially introduced at a press conference in Pullman.

Sean Kramer covered the event, filing this story, which includes comments from Lees and athletic director Bill Moos. For more background on the hire, here is my story from Wednesday.

Moos hired Lees pretty quickly, barely a week after dismissing Donnie Marbut, so he probably wasn't blowing smoke when he said, "I got my guy." Lees' next step will be filling out his staff—he said yesterday that he's already got one assistant in mind. After that he and his newly-assembled assistants will evaluate the roster and then start recruiting, which by all accounts appears to be his specialty.

Now let's get caught up on what other WSU news has happened recently:

— The football team signed a talented receiver.

— WSU basketball won't suffer any academic sanctions after pulling out a superior APR grade.

— But the Cougars didn't grade well in a ranking of Pac-12 athletic department revenues.

— New linebackers coach Roy Manning secured a commitment from an athlete who could play on either side of the ball.

WSU athletics releases 2014 fiscal numbers

On Friday, the Washington State athletic department released its statement of revenues and expenses for the prior fiscal year.

You can read it below.

I spoke to athletic director Bill Moos this afternoon to break down some of these numbers.

— First, Moos asked me to clarify that the Cougars do not receive any extra money because Oregon participated in the college football playoffs, nor will Pac-12 schools receive any largesse from the Ducks playing in the championship game.

"It doesn't matter whether the Pac-12 has a team in the four slots or in the championship game; our money is guaranteed and it's significantly more than it has been in the past," Moos said. "It's not like basketball where you get units for how many teams you get and how far they go in the bracket."


Rather, WSU saw an extra $2.5 million that it would have received whether or not the Pac-12 placed a school in the playoffs.

— As you can see, the athletic department's revenues grew from about $45.5 million in 2013 to about $47.2 million in 2014. However, the Cougars also spent a lot more money in 2014 and finished with a net loss of about $13 million.

Moos said that he expected to spend more money in 2014 and that extra expenses such as bowl payouts, Ken Bone's buyout, salary increases on the football staff, the hiring of Ernie Kent and his staff and creating assistant golf coach positions added to the deficit.

Still, he said those are expenses he was happy to bear.

— Moos said that the department paid the remaining $1.8 million left on Bone's contract immediately, rather than spacing it out over the duration of his seven-year contract.

— While WSU's total contributions dipped from $7.7 million in 2013 to $7.2 million in 2014, Moos says that the number of Cougar Athletics Fund donors set a new record, as did their total donations. The reason the contributions number is lower is because of specific donations to Phase One of the Martin Stadium renovation that expired.

— The Pac-12 schools saw money from the Pac-12 Networks for the first time in 2014, a cool $1.5 million that is expected to go up significantly.

"We're still optimistic as a conference that could get up to 7 or 8 million per school."

— Moos says his projections show the athletic department becoming solvent by 2019, although he hopes WSU athletics will become revenue neutral by 2018. The Cougars are currently servicing debt on bonds taken to pay for recent construction and while Moos says that the Cougars still have projects in mind — an indoor practice facility, for instance – the athletic department will not take on additional debt.

"The plan is that any additional facilities will be the result of major gifts," Moos said. "We needed to get the football facilities as fast as we could to create the revenue stream from the premium seating area, and also to attract and develop our players, so we bonded that."

WSU rolls over Mike Leach’s contract, as expected

We reported awhile ago that Bill Moos planned to allow Mike Leach's contract to roll over, in effect extending it until 2019.

Because we've been getting some email about the subject recently I thought I'd put up this post to remind people that it happened. Leach's contract has a provision that states that it automatically renews the length at five years on Jan. 1 of each year unless either Moos or Leach provide written notice stopping the automatic extension.

The extension also resets the clock on both the buyout Leach would have to pay to pursuit another job ($2.25 million if he leaves in year one of the contract) and the buyout the school would have to pay to terminate his contract without cause (60 percent of the base salary due for the remainder of the agreement).

Cougar Calls with Bill Moos highlights

Bill Moos joined Bud Nameck for his weekly call-in show earlier today. In case you missed it you can listen to the podcast later on iTunes and if you can't wait I've written down some of the highlights below.

Moos will also be joining the Seattle Times for a live chat at noon today on its website.

Highlights are after the jump.

WSU gives Mike Leach a $500,000 raise

As the on-field performance of the Washington State football team improves, so does its coaches' salary. WSU athletic director Bill Moos amended the contract for football coach Mike Leach to raise his annual media compensation from $100,000 per year to $600,000 per year, raising his total guaranteed annual compensation to $2.75 million.

Additionally, Moos allocated another $500,000 into the pool for assistant coaching salaries.

More on the coaching raises after the jump.

WSU announces CAF staff changes

Washington State athletics just announced some staff changes to the Cougar Athletics Fund, including the hiring of former WSU quarterback Jason Gesser as assistant director of athletics. Gesser also recently joined the IMG broadcast team for WSU football.

The release is after the jump.

WSU emphasizes nutrition in athletics

In today's paper I had a story taking a broad look at the sweeping changes the Washington State athletic department has seen in four years under Bill Moos. One area of WSU athletics that has seen a lot of growth is nutrition, which is featured in the article but I thought was worth highlighting again here on the blog because not much has been previously reported about it.

We'll take a look at how the Cougars are addressing the dietary needs of their athletes, after the jump.

WSU to host Eastern in 2018

From Pullman — Washington State announced on Wednesday that the school will host the Eastern Washington football team for a game on Sept. 15, 2018. The release from the school is below.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — It's Spokane Week for the Washington State athletic department and here in Pullman the Cougars have just one week left of spring football. We began the week yesterday with a lunchtime chat. We also had a blog post on Gabe Marks' successful surgery as well as an off day Five Questions segment with Toni Pole. Cougar fans seemed pretty happy yesterday with the news that Bill Moos is no longer looking to make games in Seattle a priority. Last night the news came out that men's basketball coach Ernie Kent landed his first recruit at WSU.

Oregon still doesn't know who its backup quarterback will be … Arizona recruit Stanley Johnson was named California's Mr. Basketball … It was a Bruin who won the Boston Marathon … Cal's new coach has named two assistants.

Bill Moos says no more Pac-12 Seattle games

From Pullman — Washington State has played a Pac-12 opponent in Seattle the past three season with pretty paltry results. The Cougars, hosting some stiff competition, went 0-3 in their home games away from Pullman, losing to Oregon State, No. 2 Oregon and No. 5 Stanford by an average score of 50 to 22 ⅓. 

On Monday Bill Moos announced that the Cougars will no longer host conference foes in Seattle, keeping all Pac-12 home games home, in Pullman. Moos and coach Mike Leach spoke at the Spokane Luncheon on Monday as part of WSU's Spokane Week festivities. According to Cougfan.com, he said:

When I first got here, we didn't have TV money and the Pac-12 money. We needed to build a cash flow. I decided to schedule Oregon State and Oregon games in Seattle becasue we needed the money … That's not the case now, so we're going to reevaluate playing games in Seattle. I think it's served its purpose.

WSU opens the 2014 season in Seattle against Rutgers. 

WSU AD Bill Moos on Gonzaga series and more

From Pullman — Yesterday we reported that the Washington State men's basketball team will play Gonzaga in Spokane again next season as part of a three-year contract. The news drew a wide range of reactions from people like our own Vince Grippi, to CougCenter's Jeff Nusser to Barry Bolton ($) of Cougfan. Today I caught up with Bill Moos and we chatted about the series with Gonzaga, as well as some other items.

Those notes after the jump.

Cougar Calls highlights

From Pullman — Bill Moos joined Cougar Calls with Bud Nameck on Monday for his weekly radio appearance. You can listen to the podcast when it's put up here, and we've put together some highlights after the jump.

Cougar Calls highlights

From Pullman — Washington State athletic director Bill Moos joined Bud Nameck on KXLY 920 for Cougar Calls this morning and it was a pretty eventful show. Spring football starts on Thursday for WSU so the duo hosted both defensive coordinator Mike Breske and head football coach Mike Leach.

Highlights from those interviews, as well as some information from Moos regarding his search for a new basketball coach, are after the jump.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman —Lots of news out of Pullman today with men's basketball coach Ken Bone and Washington State parting ways. Here is our story on Bone's termination, an interview with Bone about next year's team, an interview with athletic director Bill Moos about the decision, and today's story on Moos' upcoming search for a new coach. John Blanchette has a column about the day's events, as does Bud Withers

A guest columnist for the Seattle PI doesn't think WSU and the Pac-12 are a good fit … The women's basketball team ends a 23-year postseason drought today … The baseball team picked up a big win.

Bill Moos on decision to fire Ken Bone

Opening Statement

Hello everybody. At 10 o’clock this morning I met with Ken Bone to tell him that he would not be returning as men’s basketball coach at Washington State. I got to say that I felt all along that Ken was a good coach and certainly a great guy but it just wasn’t working, the record reflects that, certainly the attendance at our home games reflects it and I felt that it’s time to find knew leadership and go a new direction.

Ken Bone’s future at WSU uncertain

From Pullman — Ken Bone and the Washington State basketball team are aware of the uncertainty surrounding the coach's future at WSU. While Bone has two more years left on his contract, athletic director Bill Moos hinted before the season began that a coaching change could be made after the season if the Cougars didn't show improvement. 

Today Moos told the Spokesman-Review that while he has not contacted any prospective coaches, he is not yet ready to make a decision on whether or not Bone will be back next season.

Here is our story on Bone's uncertain future.

Moos also added that it is unlikely the Cougars make major upgrades to the basketball facilities, saying:

"That’s going to be a question the coach will ask in the event that I was interviewing someone. I don’t really think that ours are that bad, I think that our practice gym – we really did some great improvements to it. I continue to feel that Beasley is a good seating bowl, good sight lines. I do think however that it’s worn out and needs a facelift and we are in the process of addressing locker rooms and meeting rooms and training rooms, weight rooms etc.

And the addition of the video board and some of the branding we’ve done in there, I think we can put some more focus on upgrades and a little bit more sizzle in the branding and really the exterior. I don’t think we’re that bad in basketball."

Football Operations Building nearing completion

From Pullman — The 84,000 GSF Football Operations Building is nearing completion at Washington State. Boasting a weight room, locker room, equipment rooms, training rooms, coaches offices and more, it truly is an all-purpose facility. 

Cougar Calls with Bill Moos recap

From Pullman — Cougar Calls — Bud Nameck's weekly radio show on KXLY with WSU athletic director Bill Moos — can be heard every Monday at 10 a.m. Moos wasn't available today so associate athletic director Mike Marlow appeared in his stead. A podcast will be made available later just in case you weren't able to devote an hour of your Monday morning to listening. We've also summarized a few of the highlights, after the jump.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Yesterday Bill Moos appeared on Cougar Calls and WSU coach Mike Leach made a guest appearance. We've transcribed some of the highlights. While the call was centered on football, Moos also touched on the men's and women's basketball teams. We've got a blog post recapping the men's weekend in the desert, while the women will take on Washington tomorrow … Moos also reiterated that the Apple Cup won't be on Friday next year … It appears that former WSU football coach Paul Wulff has found gainful employment … The Pac-12 is losing a lot of talent in football this offseason. Both underclassmen and seniors are preparing for the NFL draft … In the true Boulder spirit, Colorado has been climbing the men's basketball polls … Last night was the end of the BCS era, and it went out with a bang.

Highlights of Cougars Calls with Mike Leach and Bill Moos

From Pullman — Like myself, Bud Nameck returned from Arizona today and wasn't around to participate in Cougar Calls with WSU athletic director Bill Moos. But Derek Deis filled in ably, and the duo had a guest visitor in football coach Mike Leach. Moos confirmed that the Cougars won't be playing the Apple Cup the day after Thanksgiving anymore, and Leach called in from Florida to give his thoughts on recruiting. The interview can be listened to in its entirety here.

We've also transcribed some of the highlights, which you can read after the jump.

 

WSU AD’s son a freshman All-American

Washington State athletic director Bill Moos has put together quite the biography. By revolutionizing college football marketing at Oregon he put the Ducks on a course for success that routinely has them playing in BCS bowls. His attempts to do the same at Washington State have swelled the Cougar Athletic Fund coffers to historical highs. The beef that comes from his Special K ranch outside of Spokane is some of the juiciest, mouth-wateringest you'll find 'round these parts.

Perhaps one day he'll even live up to the example being set by his progeny. Read on, after the jump.

Q&A with WSU AD Bill Moos

I've had the opportunity speak with Washington State athletic director Bill Moos to talk about the Cougars bowl situation, future construction plans and his vision for branding and marketing Cougars athletics going forward. Of course, the vast majority of what he said didn't make it into paper. With that in mind, I've transcribed the rest of those interviews in a Q&A format, which you can read after the jump.

Book signing with co-author of The System

Released in mid-September, "The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football" is the latest vignette-styled, behind-the-action look at college football. The 386-page book offers insight and access into the recruiting, game planning, struggles and successes of the college football season.

WSU fans will be interested in a number of chapters related to coach Mike Leach and athletic director Bill Moos,Oct and even a look at President Elson Floyd's administration. For example:

Every athletic director has to have a trusted confidant, someone on staff capable of handling sensitive situations that arise behind the scenes when running the most visible department on campus. In Bill Moos' case, he turned to Mike Marlow, a gregarious fellow who spent thirteen years toiling away in the athletic department at Oregon. That's how Moos knew him. Marlow used to work for Moos in Eugene. But Marlow was a graduate of WSU, and when Moos offered him a job at his alma mater, he didn't hesitate.

More from the excerpt — and information on book signings — after the jump.

WSU news to pass along

COUGARS

Sometimes, a warm spring day produces some football news. Yesterday was one of those days. Keep reading.

A busy week ends with links

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Plenty of happenings on the WSU front yesterday, though today figures to be much quieter. There's a lot to read for now, though. Get your coffee/orange juice/Tang ready, and read on.

Moos: ‘I really feel that Ken Bone can coach’

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — There were no ultimatums discussed. The coach wasn't made to plead for his job. Nor was he yelled at.

No, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos says his meeting with men's basketball coach Ken Bone on Wednesday was devoid of much drama, Moos deciding a while ago that he was likely to retain Bone for a fifth year as the Cougars' coach.

Moos said his decision about Bone's future was made before the two sat down to recap the season.

"I pretty much decided that I was going to retain him," Moos said. "I did want to get a sense from him of where we were in regards to the program, the current players, incoming players that we had recruited and also his staff, so we had that discussion and at the end of it I told him I’m going to support him wholeheartedly."

Bone still WSU’s coach

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — What many had already assumed was confirmed Wednesday after WSU basketball coach Ken Bone and athletic director Bill Moos held their end-of-season meeting, as the Spokesman-Review has learned that Bone remains the Cougars' coach and is expected to return for his fifth season.

Bone, who is headed back on the road to recruit, is scheduled to hold his annual wrap-up teleconference on Thursday afternoon to recap the season.

After the Cougars finished 13-19 and 4-14 in Pac-12 play in 2012-13, there was speculation that Bone's job might be in jeopardy. But it was considered unlikely that Moos would make a coaching change with three years remaining on Bone's contract. He would have been owed $2.55 million by the school if his contract was terminated this season.

WSU links on a Tuesday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We're headed back on the road this morning to help with the paper's Gonzaga coverage this week in Salt Lake City. But that doesn't mean we're ignoring WSU. Read on.

Moos, Bone likely to meet next week

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State athletic director Bill Moos said on his weekly radio show Monday that he plans to meet next week with coach Ken Bone to discuss the future of the program.

Moos did not say specifically whether he's decided Bone will be retained or not. He said the two will recap the season, discuss recruiting and "chart the course" for the future of the team when they meet.

That's standard operating procedure for Moos. He meets with each coach at the end of their respective seasons to discuss the future and check in to see how they feel things are going. Those aren't conversations that happen during the season, Moos said, "unless there's a question about recruiting or scheduling. This will give us a chance to have a long visit and chart our course."

Moos noted that last year's end-of-season meeting wound up yielding a staff shake-up, with assistant coach Jeff Hironaka being reassigned to an operations role and Ray Lopes being hired as a new assistant.

Bone said after WSU's season-ending 64-62 loss to Washington in the Pac-12 tournament that he's not concerned about his job status.

"I think we’ve done a good job and decisions will be made, whether it’s this year or next year or the following year," said Bone, who has three years remaining on a 7-year contract. "It’s out of my control, so I’m not going to worry about things that are out of my control. Just going to keep doing the best I can."

Bone would be owed $2.55 million if terminated this season.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple