Washington State coach Mike Leach said Monday he was as surprised as anyone when he learned athletic director Bill Moos had taken a new job at Nebraska.
But Leach said he has no plans to follow Moos, noting Nebraska already has Mike Riley to lead the football program. Some Cougars fans have expressed concern that Moos might try to lure Leach away.
“I wish Bill the best, and we just move forward,” Leach said.
Leach said his No. 15 Cougars (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) are concentrating on Saturday night’s game against Colorado (4-3, 1-3).
He called Moos the best athletic director he ever worked for, in part because he was so honest. Moos hired Leach before the 2012 season to turn the Cougars’ program around.
Washington State is preparing to launch a search for Moos’ replacement. University president Kirk Schulz has named John Johnson, the senior associate director of athletics, to serve as interim athletic director. Johnson won’t be a candidate for the permanent position.
Moos leaves behind a Washington State football program that is in much better shape than when he took over in 2010. But Moos also leaves behind an athletic department swaddled in debt, largely because of lower-than-expected returns from the Pac-12 television package.
Leach said Moos brought “a vision of success” and united the entire athletic department behind that vision. He also dramatically improved athletic facilities in Pullman.
Moos, a lineman for the Cougars from 1970 to 1972, was lured out of retirement in 2010. The football program was coming off a 1-11 season when Moos took the job.
After a year, he fired coach Paul Wulff and hired Leach, who had been fired two years earlier by Texas Tech.
Leach, who is paid $3 million per year, has posted a 35-35 record since his arrival and has led the Cougars to three bowl games in the past four seasons. He had the Cougars ranked as high as No. 8 before their loss last week to California dropped them in the polls.
Attendance has soared, averaging nearly 32,000 this season at 33,000-seat Martin Stadium, the smallest stadium in the Pac-12.