Commentary: Moos & Marbut dance comes to head

TURNS OUT Bill Moos has two drawers in his desk for people who go off script: one for the no-bowl-game-tickets-for-you list and another for coaches who allow their frustrations about facilities to wind up in a Sunday newspaper article.

From this chair, Donnie Marbut wasn't cut loose as baseball coach at Washington State on Tuesday because Moos is convinced that someone else will return WSU to a "position of prominence."

Marbut was fired because he told the Spokesman-Review he was disappointed that Moos hadn't helped him raise the money needed to construct a baseball clubhouse next to Bailey-Brayton Field.

Over the last several years, while Marbut on his own raised about half of the estimated $7 million to build his proposed facility, Washington, Oregon, Gonzaga and Portland built and opened gleaming edifices. Oregon State, as has been chronicled far and wide, was already well ahead of all of them.

Marbut allowed his frustration over facilities to be captured in print. That was a mistake. For two reasons, doing so under Moos was a fatal mistake. For one, Moos prides himself on being Mr. Facilities, so to be portrayed publicly as neglectful in some fashion on that front had to hit him like a cannon ball. And second, Moos has never tolerated what he perceives to be public disloyalty (see the no-bowl-tickets-list for Exhibit A and the firing of Jim Walden via form letter as Exhibit B).

What's ironic is that it was loyalty which doomed Marbut. Anyone who knows him know he bleeds crimson in every way. He has been as passionate about his program as any coach who has ever donned a crimson shirt. That passion, as it related to facilities, proved his undoing in Sunday's S-R.

This hasn’t been the first time Marbut has talked about facilities, though this was his most forceful presuming he was quoted accurately. What will be forgotten are the numerous times this baseball season Marbut mentioned Moos in a positive way.

Marbut's frustration is understandable. After taking back-to-back Cougar teams to the NCAA tournament in 2009 and 2010, he was convinced a facilities investment in baseball would give him the leverage to elevate the Cougars to the College World Series. Instead, he was left with 1990s facilities in a state-of-the-art world.

Moos' inaction on baseball also is understandable. Since arriving on campus, he's been working to get football -- the money engine of every athletic department -- back into the recruiting wars with massive investments in the Cougar Football Complex and the Martin Stadium renovation.

He's also working overtime these days to get a new Indoor Practice Facility -- which would benefit numerous sports, including baseball -- funded.

That kind of prioritizing isn't just logical and pragmatic, it's the foundation for building long term stability in every program.

Losing Marbut is a blow to Cougar baseball. This season's 29-27 record, built in no insignificant way by 24 freshmen and sophomores, whets the appetite for the future.

Moos said Monday in a press release that he believed new leadership was needed in baseball to return the program to the upper tier of the conference.

In an era where Portland's facilities overshadow WSU’s, he must be talking about leadership on the order of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. That's not to say the Cougars can't be competitive, because they held their own against every Top 25 program they played this season.

But the room for error will get smaller and smaller until WSU’s new baseball clubhouse gets the green light. Rest assured, Moos will get the clubhouse built and given his track record, it will be built in style. Sadly for Marbut, who built the program back to respectability after the previous decade of woe, the timing didn't add up.

Cougfan Top Stories