Moos explains scheduling rationale

KENNEWICK – Asked over the weekend why it makes sense to pursue non-conference football games with the likes of Florida State and Michigan State given the imposing nature of the Pac-12 portion of the schedule, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos didn't hesitate for a moment.

Moos, surrounded Saturday by 350 enthusiastic WSU fans at the 16th annual Tri-Cities Tailgate event, told CF.C his philosophy in filling out the Cougars' non-conference slate each year is three dimensional.

He wants to face three different types of opponents each season.

More specifically, he said, he sees the biggest benefits to the program coming out of a non-conference schedule with an A level program, typically BCS teams like FSU, MSU and TCU, which he is talking with right now about home-and-home series'; a B level opponent, perhaps a Mountain West school like Colorado State; and an FCS team, which gives younger players a chance to hit the field.

Last season's non-conference lineup fit that formula to perfection with BYU, UNLV and Eastern Washington. And this season's trifecta of Auburn, Idaho and Southern Utah falls in line as well, though Idaho and Southern Utah figure to be far weaker than were UNLV and EWU.

Unlike last pre-season, when Moos helped stoke notions of a WSU return to a bowl game, he continues to take a lower key approach this time around.

On Saturday, he didn't reiterate his prediction from earlier this month that the team would struggle to win six games, but he did play the topic safe.

"I think we're going to be better," Moos said. "They really showed us a quite a bit during spring football. We're going to do it right and it takes a little time."

He believes 2014 will be the true turnaround season for the program.

ASKED ABOUT FUNDRAISING, Moos said he thinks his ongoing message to Cougar fans to "put some skin in the game" is taking hold.

"You're not a Cougar just by putting on a ball cap," Moos said. "People understand that for $50 they can get involved."

Fifty dollars is the entry point to become a member of the Cougar Athletic Foundation.

Moos said athletic scholarships cost his department $8.2 million a year. Even with WSU having its best fundraising year to date, the school is still $3 million short of meeting the goal of having all those scholarships covered by donations. The balance must come from the athletic department's operating budget -- something that many Pac-12 schools don't have to resort to because donations cover all scholarships.

Still, three years into his tenure as WSU's athletic director, Moos said he's pleased with the trend line on the donations front.

He also said he believes the department is on track with the "five-year blueprint for success" he mapped out shortly after taking the helm in the spring of 2010.

OVER THE LAST three years, Cougar athletics has undergone a rebranding and restructuring, and made huge investments in facilities. Moreover, Moos was instrumental in the Pac-12 decision to share television revenue equally among its schools.

And, he notes with pride, the academic performance of student athletes has increased.

But for Moos, the thing he's most proud of is seeing WSU get that equal TV revenue. That's helped fuel WSU's $130 million infusion into football facility improvements, and it will help make more improvements possible, including a new baseball clubhouse, a renovated indoor practice facility, and upgrades to Beasley Coliseum. He said that TV revenue is also what allowed WSU to hire Mike Leach.

Moos said facilities investments are critical because they help WSU stay competitive when it comes to recruiting.

ONE CHANGE MOOS has not been able to help usher in is a deal to have DirecTV carry the Pac-12 Networks. Moos said the conference and satellite provider remain at a standstill.

"It would be great to have DirecTV, but we'll hold our stance," Moos said.

Were a deal to be struck, it could add up to about $3 million more per school per year in TV revenue.

Moos said fans have choices and if they want to watch the Pac-12 Networks, they need to call their providers and tell them. He said last year the Pac-12 Networks produced 550 live events and this year they are looking to increase that to 750.

Last season, six of the Cougs' 12 football games aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

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