“Let’s get the lemonade from the lemons," said Moos. "Let’s think about what the plusses are here: great weather, wonderful tailgating, Cougar football the way everybody wants it. It’s more fun to be on that tailgate when its 70 degrees than when it’s 25, I hear it all the time. ‘You’ve got night games at the end of the year and it’s cold and stuff and the roads are bad.’ Hey, we’ve eliminated that. Okay? And we don’t have to put our road jerseys on until Week Six. Think about this, we can be at home, fill up Martin Stadium … hey let’s make all five of these teams come in and feel the wrath of the Cougs and get to 5-0.
WSU opens the season with Montana State, Boise State, Oregon State, Nevada and USC.
“That fifth one is against the defending Rose Bowl champions,” said Moos. “Let’s build up that momentum so that when we do go on the road we’ve got a great chance to get some victories. Now, we have one (home) game in October, one in November. You can suck it up and be there, Cougar fans, just for one (game) and one will be homecoming, one will be Dad’s weekend … so we have a chance to sell out every single game IF the mentality of our Cougs is ‘Hey, how lucky are we to have the first five at home’ … This could be a very big year, we’re preseason picked in the top 25.
“We tried hard not to be faced with this but let’s dissect it: first of all we have no choice with the conference schedule … so we go out and aggressively schedule non-conference games to appease our fans and give us a better chance to be successful. And this will be the second (straight) year with seven home games.”
MEANWHILE, WSU IS a destination spot for coaches, Moos said, something he has mentioned often over the years. Washington State’s athletic director pointed to new Cougar defensive line coach Jeff Phelps choosing Washington State over ACC and other job opportunities as an example.
“He had the chance to go to a lot of places, including the University of Pittsburgh," Moos said. “Let’s talk again: Washington State is a destination and not a stepping stone. And it is a legitimate option for talented coaches and administrators. And this is just another great example. Very fine coach, very well-respected in the industry and he’s now a Coug.
Moos related this story after the loss to Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl.
“I remember after the game talking to Coach Leach and he said, ‘I’ll tell you what, that defensive front was coached as well as any I’ve ever seen,’” said Moos.
With Joe Salave’a leaving for Oregon in the final weeks before Signing Day, radio host Derek Deis asked why WSU and other schools’ contracts to assistant coaches don’t restrict coaches leaving for other Pac-12 jobs.
“Our head coach and coordinators, that’s in place,” said Moos. “There’s a penalty if they leave for a lateral position, now I’m talking about the coordinators. If they leave to become a head coach, I encourage that, no penalty. Because we’re also, I believe, responsible to help these people pursue their careers.
“If Alex Grinch wanted to leave and go be the defensive coordinator at UCLA, he’s going to pay us a chunk of money. If he wants to leave and be the head coach at UCLA, we’re going to applaud that. Hey, look at what we’re producing at Washington State.”
MOOS ALSO touched on basketball and football recruiting. He said the Cougs under Ernie Kent are trying to find their identity, pointing to a “devastating” 41-point loss to Utah at home, but then rallying back to beat Colorado a few days later.
“That was gratifying to Ernie,” said Moos, who added there have been players who have been “showing it in practice” but not necessarily in games. “And that’s a confidence thing … You’ve gotta have a perimeter threat and you have to play defense ... It has to become second nature, and I think we’re starting to see a little.”
Moos said the 2017 Cougar football recruiting class “looks pretty good.” He said it could look better than today by the time Signing Day rolls around, or it could look a little worse, given the increase in flips and decommitments at this time of year.
“But our fans need to pat these (coaches) on the back because the game of recruiting is every bit as challenging and grueling as the games on Saturdays … If all goes well, this is going to be another winning season in the recruiting season,” said Moos.
Moos recently returned back home from the Pac-12 winter meetings and NCAA convention (back to back). He said they were centered around “time balance reforms” including student-athletes getting an additional 21 days away from athletics.
“You have never seen that before … I know when I played we covered 20 hours in two days,” Moos joked. Moos also said of the time spent in Nashville that he and his wife Kendra crossed a bucket list item off the list in visiting the Grand Ole Opry.
“The barbecue was great, the country music was even better,” said Moos.