Moos: All Pac-12 home games to be in Pullman

SPOKANE–When fans and national media talk about Pac-12 facilities, Oregon is mentioned most often. But with the new football operations building that opens next month at Washington State, Mike Leach says everyone else in the Pac-12 will have to be satisfied with second-best. Meanwhile, Bill Moos says all WSU Pac-12 home games will be played in Pullman, with Seattle no longer a consideration.

Moos and Leach headlined the Spokane luncheon, part of a week of activities designed to amp up excitement ahead of Saturday's Crimson and Gray Scrimmage at Joe Albi Stadium, the centerpiece of the Cougars' spring workouts.

Asked about the Cougs' new $61 million Football Operations Building, which is 98 percent completed and due to open May 19, Leach expressed his admiration and then some.

"It's the best in the Pac-12," he said. "Can someone have a better one? Yeah, but they're going to have to build one. No one has anything right now that can compete with it.

"When they were first talking about it, I walked the site just to try and get an idea of just how big it was going to be – you never get a good idea of stuff like that from the blueprints. To see it now is impressive. It's a lot like waking up in Hawaii for the first time and realizing where you are and how beautiful it is. Or maybe Disneyland the FIRST time you see it."

Moos agreed.

"When we started this project, I said I wanted it to be the best in the country. I just took a tour of it and I have to say, I'm not disappointed."

MOOS WAS ASKED about football home games and he noted that the Cougars will play seven home games in coming seasons, including the 2014-15 season, and six in a third. But the last three campaigns that saw WSU play Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford in Seattle, that's a thing of the past.

All Pac-12 home games will be played in Pullman going forward, Moos said.

"When I first got here, we didn't have TV money and the Pac-12 money," he said. "We needed to build a cash flow. I decided to schedule Oregon State and Oregon games in Seattle because we needed the money. I scheduled the Auburn games as away games for $1.2 million.

"That's not the case now, so we're going to reevaluate playing games in Seattle. I think it's served its purpose."

Moos pointed to a series of home-and-home games on upcoming season schedules – starting with a series with new Big 10 Conference member Rutgers this year. Wisconsin, BYU and Boise State are also on future slates.

"I like to schedule Idaho about every three years because of that whole Battle of the Palouse," he said. "I still like to schedule teams that I still call I-AA schools, FCS schools. I think it's good for a team when it has young players to have one of them as their first game. It's tough starting your season with Auburn and USC on the road."

LEACH RAN DOWN a list of player groups' performances this spring.

His quarterbacks, he said, are all three throwing the ball real well.

"Connor Halliday is doing a great job because of his experience," Leach said. "Luke Falk and Tyler Bruggman are doing a great job and they're battling it out. I'd hate to have to decide which one is ahead of the other right now.

"Luke is nice and big and he's smart. Tyler is built like a Saturday morning action figure."

The offensive line will feature some young players, Leach said. And the unit will be significantly bigger than it was a year ago.

"The big thing there is that we're going to average about 310 pounds," he said.

LEACH ALSO TALKEDVince Mayle has worked to become this offseason and spring.

"River Cracraft hasn't missed a step and is still improving," Leach said. "He made a bunch of all-Freshman teams last year."

The defensive line will be improved, although Leach noted that both Destiny Vaeao and Toni Pole both got haircuts.

"I told them last year that I wanted to see a swarm of hair and tattoos around the football," Leach quipped. "Now it's just a swarm of tattoos."

Leach also noted that the secondary will feature some new and possibly young faces pointing out that sophomore Daquawn Brown is the lone returning starter.

MOOS BROUGHT attendees up to date on what's happened since the Apple Cup, starting with the hiring of new men's basketball coach Ernie Kent. "He's already hit the ground running," Moos said.

He also acknowledged the furor in some circles about the new three-year agreement with Gonzaga for men's basketball – calling for each school to play one game at home, with the third to be played at Spokane Arena.

Moos explained that the deal honors the past history of the series – one that spans 106 years.

"I'll tell you another thing – I wanted to get them down at our place next season," he said, adding a personal prediction of the outcome. "For those of you Cougars who are part of that chardonnay set over there, you need to be down in Pullman watching OUR men's basketball team."

LEACH SAID there's a high level of excitement about playing the scrimmage in Spokane amongst the players.

"The biggest thing has been our chemistry," he said. "The biggest thing that's been changing has been the work ethic. It's exciting. There's a point where working incredibly hard becomes fun. That part is accelerating."

Part of that change, has been a change in focus for individual players.

"When your focus is on yourself -- when you're the most important player on the field – you start worrying about every little thing," said Leach. "You're not sure if you can push through an injury. But when the most important guy on the field is the guy on your left and the guy on your right, it's a different story."

The focus then, Leach said, is on not letting those guys down and having their back.

MEANWHILE, IT'S ONLY Monday of Spokane Week and Moos is already tuckered out.

"I told my staff that I wanted them to schedule me until I dropped," the Cougars athletic director told a Spokane Cougar Club luncheon. "It's only Monday and I'm already just about there. It's been Breakfast with Bill, Brunch with Bill, Burgers with Bill, Beers with Bill. But there's been no Bedtime with Bill."

Moos also said he expects to name a new head coach for track and field and cross country in the next week or so, explaining that he will make that hire following the same guidelines he used to hire Mike Leach, Ernie Kent and the other four head coaches he's hired in his four years as AD.

"We want coaches who look at Pullman as a destination and not a stepping stone," he said.

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