YAKIMA — Washington State athletic director Bill Moos believes Mike Leach’s third season will be when the Cougars start winning.
The Cougars may have finished with a dismal 3-9 record, but Moos’ secondary goal of invigorating the Cougars’ apathetic fan base was accomplished by all the hype that came with his decision to hire Leach, even with the losing record.
“I’ll take the blame for getting the feverish pitch of our fan base. We needed that,” Moos said. “We had tremendous apathy and it worked. Largest donor base we’ve ever had, most money we’ve ever raised. … The guy is a great football coach, he’s not the Wizard of Oz. “
Moos spoke Monday at the Associated Press Sports Editors Northwest region conference and said he believed the Cougars may be hard-pressed to win six games in 2013 — Leach’s second year — with a difficult schedule that opens with road games at Auburn and USC.
But Moos believes that Year 3 will be when Leach’s teams start winning with the regularity he sought when he hired the colorful coach in late 2011.
“I don’t think I would forecast that we are assured of six wins this year,” Moos said. “We’ve got a tough schedule. We’ve got to open on the road at Auburn and then at USC, but we’ll be better. I don’t know if the scoreboard will show it. We’re setting the foundations for what I believe will be a very strong program. Year 3 is when I believe it will show.”
One of Moos’ missions since taking over at his alma mater has been upgrading facilities. It started with a new $65 million press box/luxury seating complex at Martin Stadium that opened in time for the 2012 season.
The next phase is currently under construction, a football operations center that Moos expects to be ready for opening next spring. From there, Moos wants to build an indoor practice facility that can be used by football and another programs.
“I’ve been known through my career as a builder. I believe facilities attract the talent and then you are able to develop it when they get there,” Moos said.
Along with the football upgrades, Moos has plans for improving the baseball and soccer facilities at Washington State and eventually work in improvements to Beasley Coliseum, the Cougars basketball arena.
Moos also touched on the one controversy that came up during Leach’s first season with the dismissal of wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who left the school amid claims of abuse that were later dismissed by a school and Pac-12 investigation. Wilson was drafted in the seventh round by the Chicago Bears last month.
“Very neat kid and a very talented kid,” Moos said. “But I believe had been pampered with the previous staff and didn’t want to toe the line effort-wise in practice or games and so he benched him and then you get the attitude stuff and all of that.”