When news emerged that Bill Moos was leaving Washington State to be the new athletic director at Nebraska, a natural thought followed: Could Mike Leach follow his boss out the door?
Moos famously plucked Leach from his home in Key West, Florida, to help rebuild the Cougs a few years after Leach’s messy exit from Texas Tech. It took some time, but Leach has WSU playing at levels it hasn’t played since the Mike Price era. Wazzu doesn’t want to lose him and Leach said Monday he has no plans to exit stage left to Lincoln.
“I don’t have any plans to do that and they already have a head coach there and he’s a pretty good one, Mike Riley,” Leach, in his sixth season at WSU, said.
Barring an unexpected turnaround, most expect Riley to be shown the door by Moos once the season ends. Naturally (and perhaps a bit facetiously on our part), many wondered if Leach would be a fit with the Huskers. Perhaps that possibility will arrive, but, for now, Leach plans to soldier on in Pullman.
“I wish Bill the best and we just move forward, you know?” Leach said.
Leach was unaware — “I was surprised” — Moos was pursuing the AD job at Nebraska, which opened after Shawn Eichorst was fired last month. Nonetheless, Leach had nothing but positive things to say about his now-former boss.
“He’s the best AD that I’ve ever even met.”
Leach said Moos has had a “huge” contribution in the ascent of the WSU program in recent years.
“It started long before I ever got here when he was captain of the football team for Jim Sweeney. He’s just a great presence, great spirit. The ultimate Coug. Enthusiasm for all things Washington State,” Leach said. “Him in particular made it particularly appealing for me to come here because he’s the AD everybody wanted to work for. Despite the fact I didn’t know him, I was lucky enough to get to. Bill was instrumental in guiding in the facilities and stuff that were badly needed here. There’s still some things we need, no question, but without Bill none of it gets done as fast or efficiently.”
Leach said Moos’ honesty separated him from other athletic directors he’s worked with in the past.
“He’s a fantastic guy. The other thing is, and this may surprise you, in upper administration in colleges there’s a great deal of dishonesty. I would love to be able to tell you most of the college administrators I’ve dealt with are honest, but that’s just not true,” Leach said.
“Bill is very honest and straightforward guy and he was a guy you could count on and knew had your best interests. He had a lot presence to him where he’d inspire the whole department and he had a vision of what was going to elevate and help the program succeed. No matter what, you (as head coach) and the AD are partners as far as getting things accomplished and I think he was fantastic.”
Leach said he hopes he has some input on the next athletic director. Above all, Leach wants Moos’ successor to be “honest in all circumstances.”
“There’s a lot of shady guys,” Leach said. “Be honest in everything. (The new AD) would have a vision for success, not just participation. Let’s elevate and be the very best we can be. There would be a sense of teamwork and everybody working together, pulling all things in the same direction.”
But will the next AD play a role in Leach determining his future at WSU?
“Not really,” Leach said. “We need a great athletic director that’s got the qualities and characteristics I’ve mentioned.
“But no,” Leach said, “I’m going to focus on beating Colorado for the short run.”
Meanwhile, WSU has formed a seven-person search committee, chaired by school president Kirk Schulz. Schulz named senior associate athletic director John Johnson the interim athletic director and plans to meet with Leach this week. Leach, for his part anyway, denied knowing of any friction between Schulz and Moos.
“I’ve never had any problem whatsoever with President Schulz. I’ve always gotten along great with him. I haven’t seen that.”
The No. 15 Cougars, now 6-1 on the year after a rough loss at Cal, host Colorado on Saturday.
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