PULLMAN – Mike Leach realized Bill Moos was leaving Washington State to become Nebraska’s athletic director when the general public did.
Well, Leach’s realtime updates may have actually been lagging just a bit. He never has claimed to be a news buff or tech junkie.
“I don’t really read the news,” Leach said Monday during his weekly news conference. “I successfully read the news to the point to where I was the last to know that Bill left.”
And it was only from a secondhand source – his wife Sharon – that Leach learned Moos, the man who brought him on board to coach the Cougars football program seven years ago, wouldn’t be around when WSUs football coach arrived at work Monday morning.
“I don’t know if she saw an article or a Twitter or whatever all you guys saw,” Leach said. “She bounces around and looks at that. I’d drive myself crazy if I did that. … She told me bright and early in the morning.”
Was Leach startled when he found out Moos would be leaving the school after seven years?
“I was surprised,” the sixth-year coach said.
Leach was recruited by Moos more than six years ago to lead a revolution of the Washington State football program. Most would deem it a mission accomplished, simply based on the fact the Cougars are one of the country’s top-15 teams, bound for their fourth bowl game in five years and still not fully satisfied.
So Leach wasn’t betrayed by Moos’ departure. No, on Monday afternoon he spoke about WSU’s former AD as if he was asked to give Moos a character reference of some sort.
“He’s the best AD that I’ve ever met,” Leach said. “… Everything from active to retired to dead. Bill’s the best AD I’ve ever even met.”
But that doesn’t mean Leach is interesting in following Moos’ tracks to Nebraska, where the football program is desperately struggling to find stability under third-year coach Mike Riley. Some have floated the idea Moos might attempt to lure Leach to Lincoln in order to revive the storied Huskers football program.
Leach suggested it’s best to not give much credence to those rumors.
“I don’t have any plans to do that and then they already have a head coach there and he’s a pretty good one, Mike Riley,” Leach said. “… Wish Bill the best and we just move forward.”
But as the Cougars move forward, Leach hopes WSU’s seven-person search committee – led by school president Kirk Schulz – will seek out somebody who possesses many of the same traits and values as Moos. The football coach and athletic director were able to work harmoniously, and without many snags, because there was a level of trust, and a commitment to honesty.
“This may surprise you,” he said. “In upper administration in colleges, there’s a great deal of dishonesty. And I would love to be able to tell you most of the college administrators I’ve dealt with are honest, but that’s just not true. Bill’s a very honest, straightforward guy and he was a guy you could count on, who you knew had your best interest.”
A few of the disingenuous administrators from Leach’s past worked at Texas Tech. Many of them, he believes, are responsible for not paying the coach for the 2009 football season, when he won an unprecedented nine games for the Red Raiders before being fired.
“They ought to put them in jail,” Leach said. “… OK, you’ve got schools that have actually had murders, you’ve had schools that have had rapes and sexual assaults, you’ve got schools that have cheated and fixed grades, you’ve got schools that have bought players. There’s only one school in the nation that’s shameful enough to have not paid their head coach. Only one. And that’s Texas Tech.”
Leach shares the story to further establish his point about Moos, who he also credits for maintaining a “vision of success” and constantly elevating WSU’s athletic programs while uniting them at the same time.
“Also a vision and understanding of staying state of the art from everything to facilities to processes and things that exist in athletics,” Leach said. “None of this backseat stuff, if you’re competing, you’re competing.”
It’s been reported by some publications that the relationship between Moos and Schulz had become tenuous near the end of the AD’s reign on the Palouse.
Leach couldn’t speak to that, but said he’d “never had any problems with (Schulz)” and added “I’ve always got along great with him, so I’ve never seen that.
“Seems like an organized guy. He’s kind of been in and out of town, so I haven’t spent the time with him that I’d like, but he just seems like an organized guy and committed to Washington State.”