Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos knew he would be leaving what he built in his seven years at Washington State when he accepted the job at Nebraska on Oct. 15, 2017.
With one year under his belt, Moos has found a new home in Nebraska after living in Oregon, Montana and Washington for much of his life. He chose to live here with his wife, Kendra Moos, despite having the rest of his family either living in Washington or other areas of the Pacific Northwest.
Bill and Kendra have three daughters, Christa, Brittany and Kaiti and two sons, Bo and Ben. They also have seven grandchildren living on the eastern edge of Washington.
The rural areas of Nebraska help Moos fill the void of missing family and remind him of his Pacific Northwest home and his upbringing.
They also take Moos back to his cattle ranch, located 15 minutes out of Spokane, Washington. Moos operated the ranch with Kendra for three years following his retirement from Oregon in 2007 and plans on returning to the ranch during his future retirement.
“[The Northwest] will always be there for us and will always be a home,” Moos said. “However, we are establishing another home here in Nebraska.”
Overall, it’s the people who have stood out the most to Moos during his first year living in Nebraska.
Moos describes Nebraskans as welcoming, cordial and humble, and he said they’ve provided him with a “fabulous” introduction during his first year in the state.
Chancellor Ronnie Green, President Hank Bounds and everyone involved with Nebraska athletics see the vision Moos brought to his new home from the Pacific Northwest. Green noted the tremendous job Moos has done in connecting with the people of Nebraska.
Getting all fans, donors and former athletes involved with the athletics program is something Moos has stressed his entire career.
“We’re working really hard in connecting better with our donors and former athletes,” Moos said. “We really needed to get out to the fanbase and get them energized of where we’re going. I think that has been accomplished, we just have to continue to do so.”
When Moos was hired by Nebraska, he immediately called and connected with one of the biggest names in Nebraska athletic history, Tom Osborne.
“What better person is there to get a feel for the culture of, not only the university but the entire state of Nebraska,” Moos said. “I wanted to pick his mind and get a sense from him of areas that are of concern.”
Moos said that Osborne has been around the athletic department more since he was hired.
“I encourage him to drop in whenever he is in the building, and I’m glad he’s in the building more often now,” Moos said. “He knows he’s always welcome, and I always certainly enjoy whenever he stops by.”
Moos fired former head coach Mike Riley the day after the 2017 season ended with a 56-14 home loss to Iowa and a 4-8 record. He also terminated the contracts of men’s golf coach Bill Spangler and men’s tennis coach Kerry McDermott in May following poor seasons.
“We’ve got everything in place to allow our coaches to compete with facilities, academic support, budgets and salaries,” Moos said. “In my opinion, which is the one that counts at the end of the day, we’ve got to compete for championships and be in the upper tier of the Big Ten.”
The decisions Moos has made over the past year pinpoint why Chancellor Green and President Bounds hired him over a year ago.
“One thing we talked about when we changed leadership a year ago was around competitiveness across all sports,” Green said. “All the attention is obviously on football, but we’re pleased about the changes that occurred.”
On Dec. 2, 2017, Moos made a program-shifting decision when he hired Scott Frost from the University of Central Florida after an undefeated season and conference championship with the Knights.
His two seasons at UCF and as an assistant coach at Oregon from 2009-15 were enough for Moos to determine Frost a proven winner with a tremendous resume. Being a Nebraska native and the quarterback of the 1997 national championship football team was just the icing on the cake.
“[Frost] has brought hope and an element of the past that has resonated with our fans,” Moos said. “I have the feeling that our fans are able to stay patient as we build this program and get it back to being competitive in the Big Ten.”
Nebraska football finished its first season under Frost with a record of 4-8, keeping the Huskers out of a bowl for the second consecutive season. Washington State, the program Moos ran for seven years, finished the 2018 regular season 10-2 under seventh-year head coach Mike Leach.
When Moos arrived at his alma mater Washington State in 2010 following three years of retirement, he saw that everything from facilities, branding and culture needed to be addressed.
One of the top things on Moos’ fix-it list was a Cougar football program that hadn’t gone to a bowl game in seven years. Moos began by firing head coach Paul Wulff, who went 9-40 in four seasons with the Cougars and replaced him with Leach following the 2011 football season.
Like Frost, Leach struggled to obtain wins in the beginning, going 12-25 with two three-win seasons in his first three years with the program.
Since 2015, however, Washington State has overachieved with a 36-15 record in four seasons, which includes being No. 1 in the Pac-12 North Division in 2018.
“When I hired [Leach], he was the perfect fit for that situation and where that program was,” Moos said.
Recent football success in Pullman, Washington is a result of a winning culture created by Leach. However, it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for infrastructure Moos built by fixing the other things at the top of his list.
Moos led Washington State through fundraising and season ticket sales records that helped him implement a five-story $61 million football facility that oversees Washington State’s Martin Stadium. He was also a leader in obtaining equal revenue sharing in the Pac-12, which greatly benefits small programs like Washington State.
Moos knew Washington State athletics must stand out as a brand to lay a foundation for success. He teamed up with Nike creative director Todd Van Horne, who led rebranding efforts with various Nike schools and NFL teams, to give Washington State the new look it rocks today.
“When you look at the condition of that athletics program seven years ago, it’s truly amazing what has been accomplished there,” Moos said.
Despite the football program’s struggles in Frost’s first season, Moos saw tremendous strides in the program. He strongly believes in the vision of success he’s brought to Nebraska.
Moos especially finds himself many steps ahead in his first year at Nebraska when compared to Washington State, with advantages like strong facilities, funding and fanbase already in place.
“Here at Nebraska, there’s many things in place that are so good,” Moos said. “We were able to get it back on track much more easily than I have at any other place I’ve been.”
Chancellor Green noted Moos’ track record of rebuilding and leading Montana from 1990-95, Oregon from 1995-2007 and Washington State from 2010-17 provides tremendous excitement and vision for the future of Nebraska athletics.
Moos used the motto, “honor the past, live the present, create the future,” when building programs. Moos continues to implement that motto in his rebuild of Nebraska athletics.
“I think when [Moos] says that he’s saying it authentically and we’re seeing it happen every day,” Green said. “We have this huge legendary past in athletics and creating and moving back toward that vision is evident every day with what’s happening.”
Moos credits the various Nebraska coaches who currently lead successful programs at Nebraska. One of the coaches includes John Cook, who coached the Huskers to a 2017 NCAA volleyball national championship during his second month as athletics director.
However, Moos knows there will always be a void in Husker Nation until the football program returns to national prominence.
“The focal point of both the state and university is Husker football. All our programs will rise when Nebraska football is successful,” Moos said. “It really seems like the moral of the university and community hinges on the team’s success."
“It’s a tremendous responsibility on my plate,” Moos said. “But I think we’ve made the right moves to make a lot of people very happy here in the near future.”
This article was originally published in the January 2019 edition of The DN.