BILL MOOS, CONTINUING to scramble to fill home football dates after a proposed alliance between the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences fell through last year, said he’s pursuing home-and-home arrangements with such schools as Florida State, Michigan State and Texas Christian.
“I have handshake agreements with five BCS (Bowl Championship Subdivision) schools for home-and-home competition, provided it fits into our schedules,” Washington State’s athletic director said Monday on the last of his weekly radio shows until fall. “Some of it may be out until the early (20)20’s.”
WSU’s location and smaller stadium have always made it difficult to convince big-time football opponents to come to the Palouse. Moos had been a major supporter of the agreement between Pac-12 and Big Ten schools, which would have mandated scheduling between the conferences in multiple sports, including 12 football games a year after 2016.
“I think we really missed the boat there,” Moos said, “and I’m still a little bit upset about it, because Cougar fans would have been assured of seeing Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska in Martin Stadium, because they would have had to (come to Pullman). Trying to get them there when they don’t have to is not easy.”
Some Pac-12 football coaches have pushed to have conference games dropped from nine to eight per year.
“We’ll stay at nine,” Moos said. “I think that works really well.”
MOOS SPOKE AFTER recently attending Pac-12 meetings in Phoenix that involved league executives, athletic directors, television network representatives and football and men’s and women’s basketball coaches. Athletic directors from other major conferences also were on hand for some meetings.
Moos noted that the Pac-12’s TV contracts with ESPN and FOX mandate nine-game league schedules. He also pointed out that strength of schedule, excluded from the outgoing Bowl Championship Series formula, will be included when a four-game national football playoff system is adopted for the 2014 season.
Moos said TV-related issues with football and basketball scheduling were addressed. Late starting times, delays in finalizing those times and unusual playing days (such as Wednesdays for basketball and Thursdays for football) have not been met with universal acceptance.
“It was good for us to voice our concerns to the TV partners, and they’re very gracious and understanding,” Moos said. “I think we work together very, very well. But as I’ve said on the program before, there’s $3 billion out there that they (television networks) need to fill windows throughout the week in order to make it profitable for them.
“We need to understand that. We do. We understood that when we went into the contracts, and of course, our fans need to understand that, too.”
ONE YEAR AFTER Moos admittedly painted an overly optimistic picture for WSU football in Mike Leach’s first year as coach, he continues to try to reel in fans’ expectations for 2013.
“There’s no guarantees this year,” he stressed. “It’s still a building process.”
Moos added, “The Northern Division is the power division in the Pac-12. Our intent is to win that division. Will it happen this year? I think that’d be a stretch. Could it happen in ’14? Maybe.”
MOOS SAID Washington State’s impressive rally to beat Washington in last year’s final game was a valuable teaching tool for players, some of whom struggled to adapt to a more demanding coaching staff.
“Our players were not used to the standards that were implemented,” Moos said. “They thought they knew what great effort and academic performance was and all that, and they really didn’t.”
Moos said he’s “quite pleased” with the academic progress of the football team and other Cougars teams. The football team posted the highest grade point average (2.66) for fall semester since records were first kept in 1980. Nine other teams registered GPA’s of 3.0 or better in the fall, and 11 athletes had perfect 4.0’s.
Moos also expressed pride in the 2,400-plus hours of community service turned in by WSU athletes over the past year.
“Our life skills people do a tremendous job with that, and our (athletes) enjoy it,” Moos said. “They realize that they are true ambassadors for Washington State University, that young people look up to them and they are role models and, in many cases, idols.”
Moos gave thanks to fans for setting school records for donors and donations to WSU athletics for the year. The AD is always pushing for more, of course.
“We need to continue to push and get our annual giving up to the point where it’s covering the cost of scholarships,” Moos said.