When he met with the search firm that had been hired by Nebraska to find its next athletic director, Bill Moos knew he wanted the job. When Moos met with university Chancellor Ronnie Green and President Hank Bounds, he felt a connection. Green called him a Nebraska man coming home. Moos, who will leave Washington State to become Nebraska’s new athletic director on Oct. 23, understands what he’s getting into.
When Nebraska fired Bo Pelini back in 2014, it tabbed a 61-year-old Mike Riley as its next head coach. Where Pelini was fiery, Riley was reserved, the yin to Pelini’s yang. The Moos hire feels similar. Shawn Eichorst, fired by university leadership on Sep. 21, was hard to reach and harder to convince to do anything he didn’t want to. Eichorst hired Riley because it’s who he wanted.
Moos hired current Washington State head coach Mike Leach, in part, because he felt Leach’s style would mesh with the fan base. “His style of football, especially the air raid offense, I felt could entertain our fans while we were building the program,” he said. In 12 years as the athletic director at Oregon, Moos took what he was given and stretched it for more, building the Ducks program into the powerhouse that it is today despite some pretty barren money trees.
Where Moos appears to really separate himself from his predecessor is in his willingness to be out in the public spotlight.
“I like to make myself accessible,” he said. “I think the fans and the media and the fans through the media need to fully understand what are blueprint is, what our mission is, how we’re gauging our progress. That needs to get out and I’m always eager to do that.”
Eichorst earned the moniker “Silent Shawn” over the years for a tendency to go incognito. Moos said, especially at the beginning, he feels like he should be open and honest about what’s going on inside the athletic department. That means meeting with coaches and leveling with them. That means everyone on his staff operating on the same wavelength towards the same goals. That means when he goes out into the state – something he said you can absolutely expect him to do – the ship is still steady.
“In a big program like this, and the ones that I’ve led, you need to have answers right away and that comes from developing an organizational chart that can provide those whether I’m here or not,” he said. “I use the analogy that the sign of a great restaurant is when the customer doesn’t know if the chef’s in the kitchen.
“What we will do, and it’s proven successful wherever I’ve been, is we’ll build a blueprint for where we’re going and everybody internally will have ownership of that.”
Moos also understands just how important the Nebraska fan base is. He called Nebraska a “storied program at a very prestigious institution,” but acknowledged that Husker athletics is not what it used to be in terms of competitiveness. Still, there’s a “passionate fanbase known throughout the country,” and Moos knows he has to preserve that.
“The landscape of college football has changed, it’s evolved through the years,” he said. “Having said that, there’s no substitute for tradition and legacy and Nebraska certainly has that.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.