With the taste of a humiliating loss to Ohio State still freshly on the tongues of all those in Lincoln, Nebraska ushered in a new era in Husker sports with the announcement of Bill Moos as its next athletic director.
“Nebraska, for years, has been the hunted,” Moos said at his introductory press conference. “We’re not right now. We need to get back in that position where everybody is putting Nebraska down and circling it on the schedule.
“I believe that’s the Huskers’ rightful place.”
That’s a place Moos is hoping to lead Nebraska back to.
The 66-year-old Moos took over as the athletic director at Washington State in 2010. In his first five years on the job, he hired 11 different head coaches across all sports. The most notable name on that list is current football head coach Mike Leach, who, up until an upset loss to Cal on Friday, had the Cougars at 6-0 and No. 8 in the country.
He reiterated several times during his 30-minute meet and greet with the Nebraska media contingent that, throughout his career, he’s done a lot with a little.
“We’ve done some remarkable things at places that didn’t have the things in place like Nebraska does,” Moos said. Now that he’s here, he expects to do even more. “I told the coaches earlier and the staff that my expectation is that we should be in a position in every sport to compete for championships.”
Moos categorized himself as a “fierce competitor” and said that when he stepped away from the athletic director position at Oregon in 2007 – a job he’d held since 1995 – he left the football world for farm life. He lasted two years.
“I missed the competition,” Moos said. “Any of us who’ve actually plated the game, especially at a collegiate level, your pilot light never goes out.”
If there was ever any question about this move being near-sighted from Nebraska leadership, Moos had an answer for that too.
“We plan to be in this for a long, long time still,” he said.
Moos’ time at Oregon coincided with current Nebraska football head coach Mike Riley’s time at Oregon State. Moos said the two knew each other and he had respect for Riley as a person and as a coach. He said when Riley left for Nebraska, he was surprised, but saw the success Riley could have at a program he said has all the resources you need to win big. Riley currently owns an 18-15 record in two and a half years on the sidelines of Tom Osborne Field and this season’s squad is entering a bye week at 3-4.
Still, Moos said it isn’t his style to make coaching changes mid-season. He said it disrupts the players’ focus.
“As we speak right now, he’s my football coach and I’m going to support him,” Moos said.
If the time comes that Moos needs to make a change, he’s got a way he goes about doing it.
“What I replaced [coaches at Washington State] with were quality, proven winners, most of them at this level, who sought out Washington State as a destination and not a stepping stone because it’s been that for a long time.” he said. “In the background we were working very hard to build facilities and provide the resources to become successful so first and foremost, when I’m looking for a coach, are they a good individual? Are they a good teacher? Ethically, are they clean? Do they fit in the community? Not every community is the same. A head coach at USC may not work at Oregon State. That’s a big part of it too. If we do go about making changes in whatever sport here, I think that’s probably one of the most important decisions I can make.”
Moos stressed the importance of fit. He talked at detail about when he was hiring Leach, he was thinking about how Leach’s style both on and off the field would resonate with the fan base at Washington State. Chancellor Ronnie Green, who flanked Moos during the press conference, said fit is just as important in the athletic director position.
“Knowing Nebraska, fit is extremely important here, even more so than perhaps a lot of other places,” Green said. “When we met Bill Moos and we talked to him, it was so apparent that the fit to Nebraska was right.”
Green described Moos and his wife, Kendra, as Nebraskans who have lived elsewhere all their lives and are now coming home. He said Moos was at the top of a very short list of proven candidates for the vacant position. He said Husker icons like Eric Crouch, Jordan Burroughs, John Cook, Ronda Revelle and Tom Osborne helped set the path toward Moos.
Moos’ motto throughout his entire professional career has been this: honor the past, live the present, create the future. He said at Nebraska, there’s a storied past to honor, and he will do just that.
“It’s always been my view professionally that when someone is looking at another job, they’re either running away from something or running to something and believe me, I have nothing to run away from from but wholeheartedly wanted to run to this job,” he said. “From the time I was a small boy on a wheat and cattle ranch in Eastern Washington, I always tuned in to the Nebraska-Oklahoma game on thanksgiving weekends, never missed one. Even did it in college when I was a player myself. A storied athletic program at a very prestigious institution.”
Moos has served as the dean of Pac-12 athletic directors – a position he said he will hold until Monday – and said that his colleagues across the country still place Nebraska’s athletic department among the upper echelon in college sports.
“I really feel it’s an honor to be leading Husker athletics,” Moos said. “This is a storied place. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished at a couple other places and I want to bring a lot of that mentality to a place where we can be in a position to win championships in every sport.”