SPOKANE – Washington State football fans have done their share of grousing lately about lopsided losses, poor defensive performances and an excess of night games. Bill Moos feels your pain. The WSU athletic director also feels that change is on the way – very soon, perhaps – regarding two of those three items.
“There’s a lot of fun lying ahead and I think there’s still some fun this season,” Moos said Monday morning on his weekly radio show. “We’ve got three games (left in the regular season), and we’ve still got a chance to be in the post-season.
“I hope our people (fans) aren’t giving up. Two of those games will be on the road, one of them at home. We want to pack the house when we play Utah on the 23rd of November.”
Moos noted that the five teams that have beaten WSU are quality teams. He said their combined record is 32-5; it’s actually 35-7.
“We’re not as good as Arizona State,” Moos said. “We’re certainly not as good as Oregon. We’re not as good as Stanford. Give us a year of two with the recruits I’m talking about and the program that Mike Leach is putting together at Washington State, we’ll be mentioned in the same breath.”
Asked if he would consider this season a “failure” if the 4-5 Cougars don’t go to a bowl, Moos said, “No. I think we’re making progress. I think we’re more competitive than we were a year ago.
“I like the looks of our younger players that are not playing that Mike Leach and his staff have decided to redshirt. There’s some future stars that are already in school.”
The Cougars have played four Top 25 teams this season (winning at No. 25 USC) Two other opponents have been ranked during the year.
“They’re putting up a lot of yards and a lot of points on a lot of teams … so I’m not going to get down on our defense,” Moos said. “We need to score a lot of points. Our offense has got to click.
“We need to be scoring 35 and 40 points, and we will when Mike Leach’s ‘Air Raid’ offense is in sync and we’ve got all the right players in the right positions.”
After drawing one sellout and two near-capacity crowds for their first two games in Pullman this season, the Cougars easily drew their smallest crowd of the year last Thursday against Arizona State on Halloween. Pullman’s location makes weeknight games challenging for many alums and fans, but Moos said they’re here to stay, thanks to the Pac-12’s 12-year, $3 billion contract with ESPN and Fox Sports.
“There are tradeoffs for $3 billion,” Moos said. “The networks weren’t going to pay the conference that kind of money and not have us play on Thursdays and Fridays. We’ve all had to do it.
“We’ll have one next year. On the road on a Friday. We’re going to play at Stanford on a Friday. There’s going to be a big game at Stanford this Thursday, Oregon at Stanford.”
Moos added, “I’m a traditionalist. I like a 1 o’clock kickoff on a Saturday. A nice, crisp day with the leaves on the ground. I miss that. That’s what football is.”
Moos quickly corrected himself.
“It’s what football has been. It’s not necessarily what it is now. We’re all building facilities. There’s over a billion dollars worth of football facilities that have been built or are in the process of being built around the conference.
“We can’t talk out of both sides of our mouths. These things are being done, (plus) the investments in the coaches and their staffs – which are very expensive in most cases – could not have been done without this television deal. I appreciate our fans understanding it.”
A caller pledged to remain patient during the football rebuilding process, but he asked Moos how difficult it is to convince recruits to come “live in a wheat field.”
“We’re getting tremendous response in recruiting,” Moos said. “The wheat field part – we’re a great college town that we can sell. Our location, though some people make fun of it, is very appealing. With our facility enhancements and a big-name coach like Mike Leach and his staff, our recruiting is going extremely well.”
Moos, who likes to meet with recruits when they visit Pullman, said WSU appeals to parents as well as recruits.
“I’d say 80, 85 percent of the prospects bring parents along – either one or both parents – on their campus visits,” Moos said. “The parents just fall in love with Washington State. And why not? It’s a gorgeous campus. It’s clean. It’s safe. It’s got that college feel. There are no freeways. There’s no drive-by shootings.
“It’s what parents really love, and the prospect likes that, too.”
Moos said WSU recruits often had been underwhelmed by the facilities in the past. That is changing now that Martin Stadium has been upgraded and the football operations building is under construction, Moos said.
“Our facilities are helping us sell Washington State,” he said. “Also, a great institution of higher learning, a fabulous faculty, a dynamic president; we’ve got a lot of things going for us that are helping us compete for great talent.”
Moos proudly noted that the Cougars already have great talent on the women’s soccer team. The Cougars appear headed to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in six years after taking over second place in the Pac-12 over the weekend with home wins over No. 21 California and No. 6 Stanford. “I’m very proud of that team and our coaches,” Moos said. “Just super.”
Pending Board of Regents approval, the WSU soccer facility will get lights and a new playing surface next year. Other renovations are on the drawing board, and Moos said those changes will help WSU attract recruits and more televised games, including NCAA tournament matches.
Bud Nameck, the host of Moos’ radio show, asked the athletic director about a 10-year plan for WSU athletics. Moos said the sport he would be most interested in adding is women’s fastpitch softball.
“The State of Washington is a treasure chest for softball,” he said.
Moos plans to build a baseball clubhouse and a new indoor facility for football and other sports. He also wants to make more improvements at the aging Beasley Coliseum basketball arena and the Bohler Athletic Complex, though he was quick to label the Bohler volleyball facility as “the best in the Pac-12.”