BILL MOOS says he might try to build bigger and better football players before he builds a bigger and better football stadium. Moos, Washington State’s athletic director, said Monday he’s exploring the possibility of building a football-only facility for players, coaches and trainers with or without the previously planned expansion of Martin Stadium.
“I would like to coincide it with the expansion,” Moos said, “but my feeling is to attract good talent, you have to have facilities that are going to meet their (athletes’) needs in regards to making sure they meet their potential.
“You look anywhere I’ve been, we’ve built our football programs off facilities. Ours aren’t up to par at Washington State.”
In a wide-ranging inteview, Moos also addressed the status of football coach Paul Wulff; proposed changes in Pac-10 revenue sharing and alignment; a possible name change for Martin Stadium; and the going-away present from the Oregon Ducks that he wound up having to purchase for himself.
Moos, a standout football player at WSU in the early 1970s, returned to his alma mater last spring. He previously served as the athletic director at Montana and Oregon. The football fortunes of both schools improved after facilities were upgraded under Moos.
Moos said a 100,000-square-foot football facility at WSU with coaches offices, meeting rooms, a locker room, a weight room, an equipment room and a trainer’s room would “be ideal.
“You see things across the country any more, and it’s a big attraction for recruits.
“I’ll give you a little illustration. I believe it was 28 years of losing football at Oregon State (the Beavers had 28 consecutive losing seasons from 1971-98), and they made the decision to put some resources and energy into building an end-zone facility there.
“Upon completion, four years later -- one recruiting cycle -- they were co-champions of the Pac-10 and beat Notre Dame ... in the Fiesta Bowl and finished fourth in the nation (in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll for 2000).”
The addition of “premium seats,” including suites, at Martin Stadium has been delayed repeatedly because of fund-raising shortfalls.
Moos said he’s trying to determine whether the stadium expansion and/or football building could be funded through fund-raising, bonding, premium seats, the sale of naming rights for Martin Stadium and/or the football building and an expected increase in Pac-10 television revenue.
Moos said tentative plans call for the football building to replace the west end zone seats at Martin Stadium. The building would separate the playing field at Martin Stadium and the practice fields at Rogers Field.
“Costs of construction are very good at this time,” Moos said.
Moos said any new construction would begin at the end of the 2011 football season at the earliest. He said bonds cannot be obtained for non-revenue-producing projects like the football building, but that doesn’t make the AD any less interested in the project.
“Our football players are in Martin Stadium six days a year (for games),” he said. “They’re in the weight room six days a week, so that’s what they’re most interested in.”
Moos said the estimated cost of the current plan for 2,200 premium seats on the north end of Martin Stadium is $33 million. Moos said he’s uncertain of the cost of the proposed new football building, but he said $25 million to $30 million is a possibility.
Moos estimated the Cougars have $6 million in cash and $11 million in pledges for premium seats.
Moos said he’s studying the possibility of building the premium seats on the south side, where the press box is located. He did not rule out the possibility of a reduction in stadium capacity.
Martin Stadium seats 35,117, making it by far the smallest football venue in the Pac-10. The Cougars haven’t sold out since 2007 and rank a distant last in Pac-10 attendance this year with an average crowd of 25,145.
“It’s tough to fund a project when there’s not a supply and demand on the product,” Moos said.“At Oregon, we had a $90 million expansion and renovation of Autzen Stadium, but we did not enter into that until we had led the conference in attendance five straight years -- and by that, I mean percentage of capacity -- and won two Pac-10 championships and gone to five bowl games.
“People didn’t want to ‘miss the party’, so they were willing to ante up in order to make sure they would have seats. Now that’s an ideal scenario.”
MOOS ALSO RESPONDED TO QUESTIONS ABOUT ...
... PAUL WULFF: Moos reiterated his mantra that he assesses each coach at season's end. "I look at the overall program and if we’re making strides and progressing. That will have an impact on any decision I make.” Moos has repeatedly said he plans to wait until the end of the season to make an announcement on Wulff’s future. Wulff, 4-27 in three years on the job, has two seasons left on a five-year contract that pays him $600,000 annually.
Moos' message to disgruntled fans is "... support your coach -- that’s what I’m doing and will continue to. I think in many regards he’s doing a nice job.”
... THE PAC-12: Moos, citing a mandate from league commissioner Larry Scott, refused to say whether Pac-10 athletic directors voted last week to divide future TV revenues in 12 equal portions (Utah and Colorado join the conference next year). Moos, again citing Scott’s request, also refused to confirm reports that the four Northwest schools will be lumped with the two Bay Area schools when two divisions are created for football.
Moos did say he’s “confident” the Northwest schools will play in the same division, and that a more equal revenue distribution system was endorsed that will be “a fair plan for everyone.” Moos said he believes a proposed Pac-10 TV network is “going to be a done deal.” Moos had been saying he expected WSU to gain $12 million to $15 million more in annual TV revenue if the Pac-10 network and more equal TV money distribution was approved, but he now says “a better number would be 8 to 12 (million). Maybe 15 max.”
School presidents are expected to vote on the proposals Oct. 21 in San Francisco.
... OREGON: Moos has gone out of his way to play down any bitterness he holds toward Oregon after being forced out as AD in 2007 due to conflicts with major booster Phil Knight. Moos did confirm that the Ducks refused to pay for a belt buckle that they gave the ranch owner as a going-away present. “I did wind up paying for the belt buckle,” he said. “I think you’re asking the wrong guy (why).“ It was a bit spendy, but I don’t think more than a cruise or golf clubs or a fishing trip. That’s water under the bridge. “Nice belt buckle, though,” he said dryly. “Got it on right now.”