ROUNDUP: Moos talks recruiting, hoops, Bobo

FOOTBALL RECRUITING, next Saturday's Cougars-Huskies basketball game and Cougars coaching legends Rick Sloan and Bobo Brayton were highlighted Monday during the weekly radio show of Washington State athletic director Bill Moos.

High school seniors can start to sign football letters of intent next Wednesday. Bill Moos said the Cougars have received 24 commitments from "a very special class."

Editor's Note: By CF.C's count, the total number is actually 25, with holdovers and recent 4-star WR transfer Sebastian LaRue counting against the 2014 class numbers.

"Not unlike last year's group, every one of these young men has offers from anywhere from six to 15 BCS-type schools," said Moos, though the Scout.com database suggests that is a bit of an exaggeration. "Not just in the Pac-12, but also from across the country. That when you know you're getting a talent pool."

Mike Leach will discuss the recruits and show their video highlights next Wednesday night at the Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights outside Spokane. All of Leach's assistant coaches are expected to be on hand, and former ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor Cindy Brunson – a WSU alum – will again serve as master of ceremonies.

Similar events will be held Feb. 7 in Kennewick, Feb. 8 in the Portland suburb of Beaverton and March 7 in Seattle. Events can sell out, so fans are urged to register at www.wsucougars.com.

"Our crowds have been just super," Moos said. "Our people put together a real nice evening."

Moos has often praised the recruiting of Leach and his staff and did so again on Tuesday. The AD is eager to see if the 2014 Cougars can produce WSU's first winning record since 2003 and make a second straight bowl appearance.

"We've got a great, great home schedule," Moos said. "Things are in place for a record year in terms of the Cougar Athletic Foundation and, hopefully, (football) season tickets as well."

TICKET SALES of any kind have been dismal at WSU basketball games this season. The men drew a season-high 3,866 Sunday against Oregon, but that still means nearly 8,000 seats were empty at Beasley Coliseum. Many fans were long gone long before the end of a 71-44 loss.

The last-place Cougars carry a four-game losing streak into Saturday's home game with Washington (3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).

"Hopefully, we can get a good crowd," Moos said. "I've been disappointed as late, but we haven't been playing real well."

The Cougars shot just 25 percent from the field against Oregon, one of the nation's worst defensive teams, before a quiet crowd.

"We need to have the facility jumping … get some energy in there that the players can really feed off," Moos said. "It does make a difference."

SLOAN HAS MADE a difference at WSU for 41 years as a head or assistant coach in men's and/or women's track. He's retiring at season's end after the longest coaching run in school history.

"It's been a great ride for me … I've loved being a Cougar," Sloan said.

Sloan bemoaned the diminishing number of college dual meets. He recalled many years when the Oregon-WSU dual decided the mythical national men's dual-meet champion.

"That's a disappointing thing for me (fewer duals)," Sloan said. "I thought that's what made track great. Back in the sixties, when I was in college (as a star decathlete at UCLA), that's what it was all about … it brings a team atmosphere to an individual sport."

Sloan blames the drop in duals on the increased emphasis on qualifying for the NCAA national qualifying meets and the NCAA meet itself. That often leads to teams splitting rosters to send athletes to different meets.

Sloan, who has been head coach of the WSU men's and women's teams since 1995, said the Cougars are delighted to bring the Pac-12 Conference men's and women's outdoor track and field championships to Pullman in May.

"It'll be a great track meet," Sloan promised, "and the Cougars will put on a great show."

Sloan said he plans to devote more time to his family, including four grandchildren, in retirement. The Southern California native doesn't sound like he'll be leaving Pullman any time soon.

"All the development we've seen around town and the development around campus and within athletics – it's still Pullman," Sloan said proudly. "It's still Washington State and it's still Pullman, and the charm is still there after all these years."

SLOAN IS ONE of very few WSU employees who spent more time on campus than Brayton. The legendary Cougars baseball coach was a three-sport letterman (football, basketball and baseball) at WSU in the 1940's, and he was the Cougars' first All-American baseball player.

Moos and Brayton's son, former WSU football player Fritz Brayton, were on hand last Wednesday in Seattle when Brayton was given the Royal Brougham Legends Award at the annual Western Sports Star of the Year banquet. The elder Brayton, who still lives near Pullman, did not attend.

"His health is failing," said Moos, a longtime friend. "I try to get out and see him as often as possible. His spirit is good, his attitude his good. I know he was very appreciative to receive that award."

The Brougham Award, named for the late sports editor of the old Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper, honors Washington sports icons for lifetime achievements.

Brayton won more than 1,100 games as coach of the Cougars from 1962-94. WSU's baseball field is named for Brayton and his predecessor as coach, Buck Bailey.

"When you open the dictionary and you look under ‘Cougars,' Bobo Brayton's picture should be there," Moos said.

Moos noted that the Cougars baseball team began official practices last week. WSU opens the season Feb. 14 at Cal State Fullerton, ranked No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball magazine. The Cougars' home schedule begins with a Feb. 21-24 homestand against Western Carolina.

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