Steve Pederson tried and failed. Then, Shawn Eichorst swung and missed. Now, just 23 days after Eichorst was let go, Bill Moos has been hired to see if he can quell the waters at Nebraska as the school’s new athletic director.
“Nebraska has secured a proven winner in Bill Moos to lead Husker Athletics into a new era of excellence,” Nebraska chancellor Ronnie Green said in a release. “It was clear that Bill stood out in a very competitive, tremendously gifted pool of candidates, not only because of his proven ability to lead programs to greatness, but because of his reputation for integrity in building and leading those programs.”
Moos brings a wealth of experience to the table from his current post as A.D. at Washington State, where he has served since 2010. And it’s hoped he also brings much-needed stability. But make no mistake about it: Moos was brought in primarily to make Nebraska football matter on a national level. It has been too long.
To that end, one of Moos’ first orders of business will be to decide the fate of Mike Riley, who isn’t any closer to making Nebraska a contender in the Big Ten West than he was the day he walked in the door before the 2015 season. Three seasons into his tenure, Riley is 18-15 overall and 11-10 in the Big Ten with two middling bowl trips. This year’s team is teetering on the edge with a 3-4 record (2-2 Big Ten) as it comes off back-to-back embarrassing home losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State.
This proud school has been unable to regain its footing as a nationally elite football program since it didn’t think Frank Solich was good enough and fired him after the 2003 season after he won 58 games in six years with a national title game appearance. Bill Callahan and Bo Pelini failed to be upgrades in Solich’s wake. Riley may be the next to go, as NU hasn’t won a league title of any sort since 1999.
Moos is known as a program-builder who is able to foster meaningful and lasting relationships, which is a trait that Eichorst reportedly was unable to do. Moos will be more public than the corporate and button-upped Eichorst, who was famous for handing out books for staffers to read and eschewing personal contact. If he could duck out of a room without talking, he would.
Moos will be front-and-center across the state, pressing the flesh, making eye contact, listening and … caring about a school and fan base that has unmatched passion and loyalty.
Moos has Nebraska sensibilities, having been raised among the wheat fields in rural eastern Washington. No sushi and VOSS for Moos. Just steak and a hot cup of Joe. He’ll even ask you to pull up a chair and join him.
And, Moos likes football. No, he LOVES football. He played for Cougs in the early-1970s, serving as a captain and earning all-league honors. He understands the love-affair the state of Nebraska has for all things Cornhusker football. And, Moos—who has a five-year contract with a base annual salary of $1 million, plus incentives–embraces it. The potential is enormous at Nebraska, which has a bottomless pit of resources and wants for nothing from a facility and support standpoint. It’s all there. Moos knows it. And that’s why he’s here.
“To lead one of the most storied and successful athletic programs in the nation is a true honor,” Moos said. “Nebraska is a very special place, known far and wide for its phenomenal fans, for doing things the right way, for supporting its students, honoring its athletic legacy and maintaining excellence in athletics success across the board. I am proud to help build upon these Husker traditions.”
Prior to running the athletic department at Washington State, the 66-year-old Moos was Oregon’s A.D. from 1995-2007 during the rise to national prominence of Duck athletics fueled by great football and the bankroll of Nike founder and Oregon alum Phil Knight. Moos also has been an A.D. at Montana.
“In discussing this opportunity with Bill, it was obvious he is ready to bring his tested brand of leadership to the Big Red,” Green said. “Throughout his distinguished career, he has exhibited a combination of passion, wisdom and an ability to bring people together in pursuit of a common goal. Those traits fit Nebraska like a glove.”