BILL MOOS knew this day would come, but he thought his wife would be there to lend support. No way, Kendra Moos told her husband. Come Saturday, when Bo Moos -- the eldest son of Bill and Kendra -- takes the field for Arizona State’s homecoming football game with Washington State, Kendra will be cheering for the Sun Devils. One of the Sun Devils, anyway.
“She told me, ‘Honey, I love you and I love the Cougars, but that’s my baby and I’ve gotta be there for him,’” Bill said with a laugh.
Bill, in his first year as athletic director at Washington State, has bled crimson since growing up a Cougar fan on the family ranch outside Edwall. Bill later starred on the offensive line at WSU, and Bo was born in Pullman when Moos served as the Cougars’ assistant athletic director.
Even after the family moved to Missoula when Bo was a baby and his father was hired as AD at Montana, Bo often returned to Pullman to visit his grandmother (she still lives there) and attend WSU football games. He came to WSU’s summer football camp after his sophomore year in high school, but Bo says he’s still waiting for the first sign of any recruiting interest from the Cougars’ former coaching staff.
“I didn’t hear anything from them at all,” Bo said in a phone interview Tuesday night from Tempe.
Since Arizona State and Portland State were the only schools that offered Bo a scholarship -- plus Idaho, before Dennis Erickson left the Vandals to coach the Sun Devils -- the Cougars were hardly the only ones who missed out on Bo. The redshirt junior has a career-high 13 tackles as a part-time starting tackle on ASU’s highly regarded defense.
“I’m real proud of Bo,” his father said. “He’s playing well. He’s developed nicely into a major college football player.”
“He’s worked himself into a really steady football player,” Erickson said. “He’s not flashy. He’s started some, he’s our third guy (tackle) some, he’s 300 pounds, he’s strong and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. I’ve been so pleased with him the last year it’s unbelievable.”
Bill Moos said his friendship with Erickson dates back to 1970, when Moos was playing at WSU and Erickson served as a graduate assistant coach. The year before, Moos played on the WSU freshman team for Erickson’s father, Pink.
The elder Moos can talk forever about Bo (“He scored 18 touchdowns as a fullback in high school. He was something out of the backfield”). Obviously, it’s thrilling for Bill to watch Bo play in the Pac-10 -- particularly with Bo wearing his dad’s old No. 61, as Bo has done since his youth football days in Eugene.
“From the time he was a little 4- or 5-year-old kid, I was teaching him how to pass rush and how to tackle,” Bill recalled.
“I’d get down on my knees with a football in the basement in Missoula, and he’d put a pretty good lick on me even at that age.”
Bo became close friends with current ASU wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad when Robin Pflugrad was an assistant coach at Montana during Bill’s stint as athletic director in Missoula. Bill and Robin love to talk about Bo yanking the heads off Amanda Pflugrad’s Barbie dolls when the kids were playing in a sandbox.
“I can’t tell you that’s true,” Bo said, “but I’ve heard that story as well, so that’s all I’m gonna say on that one.”
Aaron starred at Pullman High when Robin was an assistant coach at WSU. Aaron and Bo were reunited as high school seniors at Oregon prep powerhouse Sheldon (the alma mater of all-time WSU passing leader Alex Brink) when Robin took an assistant’s job at Oregon.
When Robin (now head coach at Montana) was fired by incoming Oregon head coach Chip Kelly prior to the 2009 season, Aaron gave Bo a call. Aaron soon found himself transferring to Arizona State, and he now starts for the Sun Devils after sitting out last year due to transfer rules. He has 20 catches for 233 yards and no touchdowns.
“Pflu is kinda the nuts and bolts of our program,” Erickson said. “He’s a guy that obviously was raised in a football family.
“Football is important to him. He’s done a lot for our program since he’s been here, both on and off the football field.
“Size-wise and all that stuff, he’s probably not what people look for. But I’ll tell you, he doesn’t drop very many footballs and he’s just been a great impact on our program. When he redshirted last year, he was on scout team and he just gave it everything he had.”
Like Moos, Pflugrad was not offered a scholarship by WSU. Moos also suffered the indignity of having his scholarship offer at Idaho withdrawn after Robb Akey left his defensive coordinator post at WSU to replace Erickson as Idaho’s head coach.
“Maybe his (Akey’s) needs weren’t the same,” Bill Moos said diplomatically.“That’s pretty funny, right?” asked Bo, who shares his father’s outgoing personality. “I’m now starting in the Pac-10.”
Bo figures many recruiters were turned off when the hometown Oregon Ducks did not offer him a scholarship. The fact that his father was being forced out as Oregon’s athletic director during Bo’s senior year of high school complicated matters.
“A lot of people looked at that as, ‘If Oregon won’t offer him, why should we?’” Bo said.
Everything worked out just fine for Bo at Arizona State. Bill said Bo will have the support of several ASU fans from Kendra’s side of the family who will watch the game from Moos’ suite at Sun Devil Stadium.
“If they get too obnoxious,” Bill deadpanned, “I’ll kick ’em out of the box.”
NOTABLES: Erickson’s coaching staff at ASU is full of Cougars. Receivers coach Steve Broussard was a WSU assistant under Bill Doba and Paul Wulff, as well as a star Cougar running back in the 1980s; defensive coordinator Craig Bray was a WSU assistant for Mike Price from 1994-99; and Sun Devil graduate assistant Alex Hamill was a Cougar special teams performer in 2006. In addition, ASU linebackers coach Trent Bray, a Pullman High grad, was a verbal commit to WSU but switched allegiances to Oregon State when his dad was hired there by Erickson.