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Originally published Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 10:00 PM

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Bud Withers

Less than a year on the job, Washington State AD Bill Moos is making progress

Bill Moos, the Washington State athletic director, is serious about recruiting great athletes, building better facilities and winning games.

Seattle Times colleges reporter

PULLMAN — Just after Oregon met Auburn in the BCS football title game, Bill Moos had a general staff meeting, and noted that in 2013, Washington State plays both those programs. (The Cougars are doing a one-time visit to the national champs.)

"And," said Moos, the WSU athletic director, "I expect to beat both of them."

"I was serious," Moos said the other day in his office.

He was, and is serious. About being competitive again in football, about enhancing facilities, about where he wants to take Washington State.

It's just short of a year now that Jim Sterk opted out for San Diego State, and they gave Moos a cook's tour of his alma mater that was soaring for both sides. It was an extraordinary, 10-day hiring process that indicated emphatically that there really wasn't any other candidate.

Now Moos has been going about the business of proving his worth.

Thursday in the Tri-Cities, the WSU Board of Regents will consider a plan to renovate and expand the south (press box) side of Martin Stadium, and to build a 100,000-square-foot football-operations facility at the west end of the stadium that would include offices and locker, equipment and training rooms.

If that isn't daunting, Moos' timetable is.

"If we get that approval, we'll move forward very fast," he said. "It'd all have to line up right, but we could conceivably be in the new seats by the 2012 season, and most probably be in the football-operations building six months later."

Moos is talking a 38,000- to 40,000-seat stadium, and club and loge seats, plus possibly 17 luxury suites. He was never persuaded that the north side was the right place for the renovation as conceived under Sterk.

He sees a combined price tag of about $70 million. The Cougars have raised $17 million, and he said, "Ideally, we'd like to raise another $15-to-$20 million" — a better base from which to finance the rest through bonds.

"If we're fortunate enough to get it approved," Moos said, "then we can come back in with a new energy to attract more donors."

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This is a project that, for various reasons, has languished for years. Meanwhile, it would be easy to dismiss Moos' vision if he hadn't gotten similar things done at Montana and Oregon, and if he weren't so invested in this place.

He makes it clear that WSU's path to respectability in the new Pac-12 is through recruiting, attracting better athletes everywhere. To that end, he has made himself available to coaches and has regularly been spending part of his weekends with recruits and their parents.

I asked if that meant question-and-answer sessions.

"It's fire and brimstone," he said. "It's 'I've-got-a-story.' I come across emotionally and I think I can do that — the fact I was a player here, and I got to enjoy the experience that we're wanting them to enjoy. And also, that I've got a track record that shows these things can be done."

He's not only wooing football players. He has met with recruits or parents representing both basketball programs, volleyball, track, swimming and golf.

"These young people are making a huge decision," he said. "They need to hear what the commitment is from the administration."

The notion of the Cougars as underdogs — so endemic to the place — is not an ethic Moos embraces.

Remember how Tony Bennett went without neckties on the bench in basketball, saying it exemplified the school's underdog mentality? Now he wears them at Virginia.

"The self-image (here) is an underdog," Moos said. "And I'm not OK with that.

"I tell our people, we're not going to get kicked out of the conference, we're going to be in it. It starts with how we feel about ourselves. We need to decide where we're going to be in the conference. We want to get back to a position where we're the odds-on favorite to win games."

Friday, Moos got a resounding stamp of approval from WSU president Elson Floyd.

"I could not be more proud of having him as our AD," Floyd told me. "He understands the industry and what we must be engaged in as a university. He's doing an amazing job."

It will be more amazing if Moos can make his grand plans happen. They could all be pie in the sky.

But WSU fans and supporters ought to feel good that wherever the program is going, they probably have the best guy on earth to take them there.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

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About Bud Withers

Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-10.
bwithers@seattletimes.com | 206-464-8281

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