Moos, speaking in front of perhaps 100 fans, current and former WSU coaches and athletes and media representatives, effortlessly weaved his way through one hour of inspiring tales, Cougar sports history lessons and hilarious one-liners. He was frequently interrupted by rounds of applause and laughter.
“I could recite and sing the Cougar fight song when I was in the second grade,” Moos said he told his wife recently. “And she turned to me and said, ‘Well, you should have -- you were 14 years old.’
“She keeps me on my toes.”
THE SAME HAS long been said of the gregarious Moos. School president Elson Floyd and interim athletic director Anne McCoy spoke glowingly of the former Washington State football star and associate athletics director at the Food Sciences and Human Nutrition Building on Wednesday, and plans for a search committee have been scrapped until a decision is made regarding Moos.
Floyd said he expects to determine whether Moos will replace San Diego State-bound Jim Sterk “by mid-week next week.”
“I think we can get it done (his hiring by the Cougars), I'll tell you that right now," Moos said.
“I don’t know if this is going to work,” Moos later cautioned. “There’s a lot of variables here. But I am honored to get to be here and to have this chance.”
WSU sports historian Dick Fry drew cheers when he responded, “We are the ones honored, Bill, that you want to come back.”
MOOS HAS OPERATED his cattle ranch south of Spokane since being pushed out at Oregon in 2007 after losing a power struggle with wealthy Oregon booster Phil Knight.
“I don’t need this job,” Moos noted, “so I’m here because I want it.”
Matters are complicated by the fact that Oregon owes Moos a reported $1.4 million. As it stands now, Moos would lose that money if he is hired by a Bowl Championship Subdivision school west of the Mississippi River.
“We’re addressing that as we speak with Oregon … it’s complicated,” Moos said.
Floyd said he has been “inundated” by Moos supporters since Sterk decided to take the AD job at San Diego State last Friday. There was no shortage of Moos supporters at Wednesday’s forum.
“We need a Cougar,” legendary WSU baseball coach Bobo Brayton told Moos, his former hunting partner. “We need one bad. You’re the man.”
Former WSU football star (and tentatively hired graduate assistant coach) Chad Eaton, who drew laughter when he accurately introduced himself as “a 37-year-old senior,” also addressed Moos directly.
“That competitive spirit that us Cougars have, that you have, needs to return,” Eaton said. “It needs to get back...We need to find our identity. For some reason, that’s not here. I’m not OK with it. I know there’s a lot of people in this room that are not OK with it.
“So the time is now. It’s our legacy, it’s your legacy, it’s the school’s legacy that we need you. We need your kind of guidance.”
MOOS SAID the Oregon athletic program struggled with many of the same problems currently facing WSU -- lack of funding, low attendance, losing teams -- when his 12-year run as AD started in 1995.
“It can happen here (success), and it has happened here,” Moos said. “There aren’t too many programs in football in the country that have won 30 games in three years, and it happened right here (from 2001-03).
“Now, did the Cougars capitalize on that? Did they reinvest in the success? Did they take on the role of being the hunted and not the hunter? Because it’s a whole different role. And it doesn’t come easy, and it’s not going to happen easy if I have a chance to come here.
“We can’t do it overnight, but we can start to progress overnight, and it all happens with the attitude.”
Moos joined Floyd in praising Sterk at length, but the economy and a struggling football program has hindered athletic fund-raising efforts the past two years. WSU has the fewest donors and donated funds in Pac-10 athletics, but the message from Moos again and again Wednesday was that that can change at WSU.
“People give to people,” Moos said. “You develop relationships and a trust and a confidence.
“But you also start with what I call a pyramid in fund-raising. You’ve got to feed that bottom end of that pyramid constantly . You feed (it) with recent graduates, you feed it with your former athletes and people in the community that want to get involved, and then you don’t desert them.
“Everybody’s got to feel good. And then you move them up that pyramid. And sometimes they can’t move.”
More quotes from Moos:
-- “Oregon insisted on a ‘no-compete’ (buyout) clause because they didn’t want to compete with me, and I don’t blame them. There’s a reason the Huskies hate the University of Oregon and they also hate me, and I’m OK with that. I respect Washington. It serves this state extremely well. But I like to win. I like to win fair and square and I like to be innovative. I task risks.”
-- “The Cougars don’t have to be an underdog. You think the Ducks are underdogs now? They were 15 years ago.”
-- “Boy, do things happen fast. The biggest thing on my plate five days ago was buying a new tractor. It’s been a whirlwind ever since. I’ve enjoyed my conversations with President Floyd. He’s a very special individual. I love his vision and I like the way he approaches things.”
-- “These great people in this room and around this campus and around this state and around the country love their school. I’m one of them. They deserve to go to work every Monday and be smiling when they see their Husky friends and others and do it with class and dignity. We will do that, too, if I’m here, I promise you that. I see so many people here I want to run up and hug.”
-- “It (great success at WSU) can happen, I’m here to tell you, just as easily as it can at the University of Oregon. You need stability. You need stability in your coaches. You need to change the culture. You’ve got to think of yourselves as champions. Think of yourself as winners, and that comes from inside the building, through the campus, through the community, around the state. And as that grows, respect comes with it.”
-- “It’s so great to be here. Really, really. This campus is timeless, and it’s beautiful. I think it’s the most beautiful campus on the West Coast. We need to thrive on that and believe in that. I’ve been to Maine, Spain and ‘Spo-kain.’ I’ve seen ’em all. This is a gorgeous campus, and you can win here, and win consistently.”
-- “We need to make this place a destination and not a stepping stone. We need to realize that people should want to come here and stay. The coach at the University of Virginia ought to want to be the coach at Washington State.” (Tony Bennett resigned as men’s basketball coach at WSU last year to coach at Virginia.)
“You have to, in my opinion, honor the past … then you’ve got to live the present. You’ve got to have a little bit of fun, be excited, enjoy the present. Compete. Get after it. Recruit. Work a little harder than the next guy. … and then maybe most important, create the future.”