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What is Washington State looking for in its next athletics director?

We don’t really have a candidate list or even someone in mind, but we do know what qualities they need.

NCAA Football: Nevada at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

To say that the news that Bill Moos left Pullman came as a shock would be an understatement. His most successful hire was in the middle a still pretty dang good season, despite a walloping in Berkeley last weekend, he still had a couple years left on his contract and at 67-years old, figured to be a long shot to leave his alma mater.

Apparently not.

So while Nebraska now has their guy, Washington State needs to find their’s. We don’t really know what the candidate list looks like as athletic director searches tend to be a much bigger mystery than any head coach (all the evidence you need is located in Lincoln, Nebraska right now), but we at least know what WSU should be looking for.

The person probably shouldn’t be a Coug

I’ll go into more detail but Brian sums it up nicely:

WSU fans seem to have a desire to have one of their own in charge. But the school needs to know they already have an athletic department chock full of people who are True Cougs, and the person leading them doesn’t necessarily have to be.

This athletic department is in a bind financially. Moos sold the Regents on massive upgrades to Martin Stadium and the hire of Mike Leach, in part, because of the money that was expected to come in from the Pac-12’s TV deal. Problem is, that money never materialized, and the school doesn’t have a way to pay for it. The department and the school are strapped for cash right now and whoever the next athletic director is will need to balance the money side of things.

That means there will be probably be some tough decisions to make and, hopefully, an athletic director that doesn’t operate the way we’re used to. Someone who can come in from the outside and not sugarcoat anything will go a long way to helping this department’s financial issues. You’re probably not going to get that from someone who is an alum or spent significant time working at the school. Which brings us to our next point ...

The person needs to be a hell of a fundraiser

WSU needs money and it needs it badly. We still lag behind the rest of the conference in fundraising despite the excellent run of football recently and there are numerous capital projects waiting for cash to get off the ground.

The valve that allowed Moos to build the CFP and ops building is now shut off completely. Money for facility upgrades will almost certainly have to come from private dollars and the athletic department has still been struggling to bring in donors, be they small or big.

This is, arguably, the most important thing going forward. The school is in a bad way financially and the new athletic director is going to have to rally the troops in the department to get more money flowing in.

The person needs to make Mike Leach and his staff happy

The two people who made Mike Leach feel very, very comfy in Pullman are now gone. Although I don’t believe Moos would be so callous as to fire Mike Riley and bring Leach to Lincoln, Leach probably isn’t as comfortable today as he was even 24 hours ago.

It sounds a little tunnel visioned to say this but you need to hire an athletic director with your football coach’s happiness in mind. That person needs to be an advocate for Mike Leach and needs to be willing to do everything in their power to keep him in Pullman and happy. The days of being competitive in a Power Five conference while getting away with paying your coach pennies are gone and if the institution cares, at all, about keeping WSU relevant, they’ll hire someone who is going to keep Leach in Pullman for as long as he pleases.

The person needs to be hired before the end of the year

WSU really can’t drag its feet on this one. In the middle of the most successful football season in more than a decade, the athletic department is now without its CEO. Combine that with having a hot commodity coaching candidate at defensive coordinator and a head coach who may be a candidate elsewhere, the school needs to hire the right person and quickly.