Moos holding steady with 'breakout' forecast

PULLMAN — Despite the Cougars going winless against two underdog opponents to start the 2014 football season, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos told Cougfan.com on Friday that he's sticking by his off-season pledge that Year 3 of the Mike Leach Era would be the true return of program prosperity.

“I thought this would be the breakout year and I still do,” Moos said in an interview following the Palouse Cougar Club Coaches Luncheon at Banyons restaurant in Pullman. “We were kind of ahead of schedule last year. We’re still very young, as I’ve mentioned, in some key areas that can be exposed, but we have by far the best athletes here that we’ve had in the last seven, eight, nine years.

"I think that’s extremely encouraging, so it’s good to get back home. These guys have been basically playing on the road, and they want to get out in front of their classmates and fans, and I think that (playing Portland State in Martin Stadium) should really be fun.”

While sticking with his "breakout" prediction, Moos still cautioned that it's too early to speculate about bowl chances.

Looking to the long-term health of the program, Moos noted that "we haven’t had one recruiting class yet that’s got a chance to go through that Cougar Football Complex so we’ve done pretty good in the last couple years just showing them renderings and floor plans.

“The facilities will attract the talent, and allow us to develop them once they’re here, and I feel very good about the future of Cougar football."

The 0-2 start to the season overshadows dramatic gains in the program. Moos pointed to big strides academically, in behavior, recruiting, season ticket sales, and facilities. Those improvements will lead to victories, he said. There is no reason to doubt the program, Moos said, and that it is improving year by year, one play at a time.

In his formal remarks to a gathering of about 50 partisans dining on pulled pork and potato salad, Moos stressed that the 2014 Cougars are young and the program needs time to develop into one that features mostly juniors and seniors in its starting lineup.

“I remember the first time I put my hand down as a young player. I wished I had had diapers,” Moos quipped.

Also in his prepared remarks, Moos said he and his staff continue to work on facilities improvements, with construction of a new Indoor Practice Facility the No. 1 priority. The current IPF -- also known as The Bubble -- is dimly lit and features hazardous turf, among other problems, Moos said.

The design of the proposed $125,000-square-foot replacement facility (rendering pictured above) is complete, he added.

It would use the existing foundation of The Bubble as a footprint and then expand east by several yards. The new facility would accommodate two 50-yard football fields, a side area for training, locker rooms, offices and a banked, hydraulic track. It also would be climate controlled in a state-of-the-art way so coaches can mimic the weather of their next destination. And it would be lit correctly and feature joint-friendly Field Turf. Virtually every sport at WSU would be able to use it.

Moos didn't offer a timeline for when he would like to begin construction, nor did he offer up the price tag but previous estimates from the athletic department have pegged the cost at between $25 million and $30 million.

Fundraising is underway for the project, Moos said, though he didn't detail how far along he was in the process.

He said his fundraising philosophy is to build a pyramid of donors, with a wide foundation consisting of people donating between $50 and $250 per year. Having that large lower base complementing major donors serves two purposes -- the project at hand, and projects down the road. Over time, he explained, those people at the base will work their way up the pyramid and start donating larger amounts, and that is the way he has approached donations throughout his career.

NOTABLE:

  • Moos said his department is making strides to expand support out of Spokane. He didn't offer specifics on donations or ticket sales, but said Spokane remains a priority.

  • The 2015 Cougar football season schedule will be released on Tuesday, Moos said.

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