When Bill Moos laid out his courtship of Mike Leach on Wednesday, after Washington State announced Leach as its head coach, something stuck out in my mind. It wasn't the timing or dollar figures thrown around, though those were interesting in their own right. What stuck out was how Moos developed a connection with Leach, building a strong relationship in short order that eventually led to the former Texas Tech coach taking the job as the Cougars' head man.
CBS' Bruce Feldman opened the mailbag on Friday and discussed, among other things, the Bill Moos effect. Feldman felt Kansas and Washington State were the only two programs truly interested in Leach, and it makes sense on many levels. But it was Moos who may have been the deciding factor in Leach signing on the dotted line.
However, the biggest thing that Wazzu's program had going for it was the AD Bill Moos, who is a straight shooter (when asked about the search committee on Tuesday, Moos said 'you're looking at the Search Committee") -- stuff like that is huge to Leach. The politics and number of people involved makes the job that much more appealing. And they were stepping up making a big financial commitment to him and to his staff.
And this is where I admit I was way off base. I'll own it. Earlier this week, I wondered if something was going on between Moos and president Elson Floyd. The opinion was formed from what I gathered from multiple people close to the process, as well as information we've known from the past. From all indications, Moos and Floyd worked in lock-step to put the plan that resulted in Leach being hired in motion.
It would make sense, too. For Leach to feel comfortable with Moos and Washington State, he'd need to have a level of trust in both the athletic director and the administration above him. Remember, this is a coach that was screwed by bureaucracy and politics at Texas Tech. For him to hop back into coaching, the profession he loves, he had to believe the administration at the school he chose was on the same page as him and would support him.
Moos did his research. He'd met Leach at a coaching clinic in Spokane and admitted to reading Swing Your Sword. Trust and comfort go both ways, and Moos also had to be sold on Leach. On a conference call following the press conference announcing Paul Wulff was out as head coach, Moos said he'd make a hire whenever he was "comfortable." Just about 24 hours later, Leach was officially announced as the new head coach. Clearly a level of comfort had already been established.
The Nov. 16 trip to Key West is an interesting one, and one that played a pivotal role in Leach ending up at Washington State. We don't know the explicit details of the day-long conversation between the two, but Moos talked of being up-front with Leach, making it clear the job wasn't open. Moos wanted a backup plan, he said, but hoped Wulff would finish strong. Leach seems like a man who would respect Moos' candid nature and honesty.
Most importantly, Moos said he and Leach talked about life, growing up, farming and everything under the sun. This fits right in with everything we know about Leach, a man whose inquisitive nature is well-documented. The Nov. 16 meeting feels like it was more like an effort to build a relationship than a hard sales push.
Whatever the case may be, it worked. Yes, Washington State did back up the armored car, in a way, but I get the feeling money isn't everything for Leach. Moos said he floated the initial figures when offering the job, and Leach responded in the most Leach way possible, saying "Hey, that's great." The trust and relationship the two had built was more important, and Leach wanted to feel as though he'd be supported going forward.
With Moos lead the athletic department, I have little doubt Leach will have all the tools and support he needs to be successful. It's an exciting time, both for the fans, but also for Leach. He's back doing what he loves the most, coaching, and is doing so in a healthy environment.
Read the rest of Feldman's mailbag for more on Leach and WSU, and the exciting times ahead in the Pac-12, among other things.