A wide-ranging talk with WSU AD Bill Moos

SPOKANE -- One of the great fan obsessions in college sports is uniforms. And the man who fueled the national trend toward sartorial variety and flash during his tenure at Oregon is hinting at an expansion of what the Cougar football team will be wearing this fall.

"We'll just have to wait and see," a smiling Bill Moos said coyly on Monday when asked about adding to the Cougs' game-day options.

Just less than two years ago, the Washington State athletic director presided over Nike's top-to-bottom makeover of all the Cougars' sports teams. That included multiple jersey and pants options for the football team.

In each of the last two seasons, WSU has let fans vote on what combination the team would wear for the homecoming game, with 10,000-plus votes collected each time.

Moos said the Cougars will continue letting fans vote for the uniform they want the football team to wear at homecoming.

A STRONG WASHINGTON STATE PRESENCE will be felt Saturday in Fresno at the private mass and public memorial service for former Cougar coach Jim Sweeney. Moos will be there, as will former WSU athletic director San Jankovich, former WSU head coach Dennis Erickson, and no doubt many former Cougar players.

"I went to Washington State thinking I was good and that I was tough and found out real fast I wasn't either one," said Moos of his decision to play for Sweeney. "At the end of the day, at the end of four years when my career was done, I can boldly say that I was both.


"I attribute that to Jim Sweeney, because he was TOUGH."

Sweeney inherited a mess in Pullman when arrived in 1968 and his record at WSU was just 26-59-1.

"We may have been the worst program in the country when I got here in '69," Moos said. "By the time we left, we were 15th in the nation. And that's without a lot of the luxuries that some of the other programs in the league had.

"He did not have the resources that a lot of the competition had in those days," Moos noted. "There were no scholarship limits (at traditional Pac-8 Conference powers like USC), which really would have helped him. But he worked so hard and his spirit was so tremendous. It was a thrill for me and my teammates to play for him."

Sweeney collected 201 career wins in stops at Montana State, WSU and Fresno State. He is one of only 71 coaches in college football history to eclipse 200 wins.

MOOS SAID HE WAS DELIGHTED TO SEE "my great friend" Erickson return to college coaching as co-offensive coordinator at Utah. The Utes announced Erickson's hiring Monday. "Football is a passion: It is his life," Moos said. "He needs to be in it. I'm happy to see he's back in it."

Erickson, who was head coach at WSU from 1987-88, basically sat out last season after being fired at Arizona State (where he coached Moos' eldest son, Bo) following the 2011 season.

Erickson did assist son Bryce at South Albany (Oregon) High School as a part-time volunteer. Bryce, who assisted his father at Arizona State, now coaches quarterbacks at Idaho.

SOCIAL NETWORKING, BLOGS AND and internet message boards give fans easy avenues to publicly express his or her opinion. The targets of those comments don't always relish some of the opinions, but Moos asks, "How do you control it? It's life in the 21st century."

He said WSU athletics has staff members who keep up on what's being said, and that WSU itself is embracing the technology with its various Facebook and Twitter accounts.

" … that will grow, because the younger generation, that's their way of communicating. You don't want to lose that segment (of the fan base) that's going to grow to be the most important."

One frequent Twitter user who enjoys bashing WSU basketball coach Ken Bone is Greg Rankich, a major donor to Cougar athletics. Moos said he was unaware of Rankich's missives, but noted in the broader scheme that donations don't add up to policy making.

"When people start to dictate policy and personnel and all that because of the money they're giving you, then you've got problems."

Moos encountered some of those "problems" when he was athletic director at Oregon. Major Ducks donor Phil Knight of Nike was a strong supporter of Moos for years, but when the two stopped seeing eye to eye, Moos resigned under pressure after a highly successful run with the Ducks. Moos and Knight have since made amends.

MOOS, A ONE-TIME ALL-LEAGUE offensive lineman for the Cougars, actively engages in recruiting in football and other sports, and said he was pleased with the new class Mike Leach unveiled last week.

"Arguably one of the best recruiting classes in recent memory for Cougar football," he said. "That said, it can get better. It's the first full recruiting cycle that Mike Leach and his staff have had the opportunity to do.

"We've got so much to sell. Our campus is great, our academic reputation is beautiful, we've got the Mike Leach factor. Our facilities are going to be second to none in this conference when we get this (football) operations building done (in 2014)."

Moos said he was delighted with turnouts and donations at football recruiting celebrations held in the Spokane, Tri-Cities and Portland areas. About 700 turned out in Spokane, 300 in the Tri-Cities and 350 in Portland. An estimated 800-plus fans are expected to be on hand for the fourth and final stop by coach Leach & Co. on Feb. 22 in Seattle.

A social, live and silent auctions and video highlights of WSU recruits are part of the fun. Former ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor Cindy Brunson, a Washington State alum, is serving as host of the four events.

"She's outstanding," Moos said. "She's a pro … she's passionate about the Cougars, and it shows."

Proceeds from the four football events go to the Cougar Athletic Fund, which helps cover the cost of athletic scholarships. Moos said those scholarships cost $8.2 million this school year, and the cost goes up yet again in 2013-14.

"The goal is for annual giving to cover the cost of scholarships," Moos said. "We got there at Oregon and then some. When you get there, you can go to other areas (with funds)."

NOTABLE: Moos was responsible for hiring the athletic department's first full-time nutritionist, and he recently added the department's first full-time chef. Athletes are offered one free buffet-style meal a day at the training table. "We are concentrating probably more than any school in the country on fueling our athletes properly," Moos said.

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