Bill Moos, in the Tri-Cities for A Night of Cougar Football event, said Mike Leach is an innovative and effective coach who has been named a Coach of the Year on a national level. But his work on the field is only part of the story. Academics are an important part of his program as well.
Moos said Leach took Texas Tech’s football program from the one of the worst graduation rates in the Big 12 to one of the best in the nation.
Moos described Leach as also having an attention to discipline -- molding his athletes so they realize that they are ambassadors for the school.
“They are role models,” Moos said. “And that’s just as important.”
Moos also described his cross-country trip to Key West, Fla., to talk to Leach about coming to Washington State.
“If I had known how beautiful that place is I would have stayed for five days instead of 15 hours,” Moos said.
But that was all it took to bring the former Texas Tech coach to WSU.
And it’s a hire that has brought with it a lot of buzz.
“It’s a national story,” Moos said. “And it’s a great story."
Moos said Leach fits WSU.
“He knows what its is to be a Cougar,” Moos said. “And he’s from Cody, Wyoming, so he knows how to start a snow blower.”
Leach is also a coach who has paid his dues. Moos said Leach has coached teams where you get on a bus and drive eight hours just to play football. And from there it was on to jobs at Kentucky and Oklahoma.
Moos said since hiring Leach in December, Washington State has sold more than 1,500 new season tickets, has raised $1.1 million in new gifts and has sold all 21 of the new suites that are part of the Cougar Football Project, which includes a renovation of Martin Stadium and other football facilities. Moos said about half of the 1,200 club seats, also part of the renovation, have also been sold.
Moos credits all of the new interest to what he called “caged Cougars.”
“With this hiring we opened the gate,” he said.
He said with all of the attention WSU has gained with the addition of Leach, he wants to be sure the momentum continues. Moos said all of the Coug fans in the Tri-Cities need to show their support by heading up the road to Pullman on game days, and he said the university will do its best to continue to bring Cougar sporting events to the Tri-Cities.
“Come to Martin Stadium for the Sept. 8 home opener and the beginning of the Mike Leach era,” Moos said.
He said a visit to campus will also bring the full scope of the Cougar Football Project to light. Moos said the stadium renovations, which include luxury suites, club seats, a new press box and a new club room, are just the beginning. He said the project also includes the West End-Zone Project, which would bring new weight, locker, equipment and training rooms to the program. Moos said these are facilities that are important to the football program.
Money from the new Pac-12 television contract -- which will bring in $20 million a year to WSU -- will help pay for the facilities.
“We plan to invest that into infrastructure and coaching salaries,” Moos said.
But it isn't enough. He said Cougar fans need to open their wallets to help fund scholarships and keep the infrastructure improvements moving along. Moos said they need to raise about $7.2 million a year to help pay for athlete’s scholarships.
“If we raise that then we don’t have to subsidize from the new television money,” Moos said.
As of right now, the university has raised about $2.8 million toward that $7.2 million goal.
“Without help we’re not going to be able to get facilities that are comparable to other schools in the Pac-12 conference, because that’s what young people are looking for these days,” Moos said.
He said when prospects come to campus they are looking for things like an indoor practice field and hydrotherapy pools.
“We love our campus, but we need to have the facilities to attract that talent so we can get back to the Rose Bowl,” Moos said.