Moos: Amid tumult, recruiting is 'tremendous'

SPOKANE – Washington State athletic director Bill Moos said he met with head football coach Mike Leach "for about an hour Sunday" regarding receiver Marquess Wilson's well-publicized physical abuse accusations and "a variety of things," including recruiting.

"Recruiting is going tremendous," Moos said Monday during his weekly radio show on KXLY in Spokane. "There's a lot of high-profile high school football players that want to be Cougars."

The Cougars have 18 known verbal commitments in their 2013 recruiting class and are expected to take another seven, and perhaps a handful more if they opt to over sign. A number of prospects were in Pullman this past weekend on official visits.

Mike Leach, who is the only head football coach Moos has hired in his long career as AD at three different schools, expressed strong support for his man during the radio show.

Moos said he is unaware of any physical abuse of football players, which Wilson claimed was part of the reason he left the team.

"Student-athlete welfare is always at the top of my list of priorities," Moos said.

Moos, a standout offensive tackle at Washington State in the early 1970s, said he is hopeful that a WSU and Pacific-12 Conference review of Wilson's claims will be completed before the Cougars leave Friday for Saturday's game at Arizona State.

"Football's a tough game," Moos said. "You need tough players. Tough players are the result of tough coaches, and we've got tough coaches.

"Some of these players have not been used to the discipline and some of the drills and things that we do to address discipline."

Leach has drawn both criticism and praise for his harsh public criticism of the Cougars when he believes effort has been lacking. Leach's first WSU team, which often starts six or more freshmen, is 2-8 with two games to go.

"Mike Leach is old school," Moos said, "and I'm OK with that. A little bit of old school isn't all that bad.

"You've heard me say this before: I think young people today crave discipline, they just don't know it. And there's going to be discipline in Cougar athletics. That's one thing I can promise you."

Moos said he was "surprised" when Marquess Wilson released a statement to the media shortly before Saturday's kickoff against UCLA. Wilson was extremely critical of the coaching staff's treatment of players.

Moos said he met with Wilson, WSU's all-time leading receiver, last Tuesday.

"It was kind of a tough-love visit," Moos said, "because all the great talent that Marquess Wilson has, his effort hasn't always been what it could and should be.

"I felt his frustrations as well, because Marquess is a marquee player. He gets everybody's best shot. He hadn't started in a couple of games."

Moos said he invited Wilson to meet with him again this week.

"What I told him was, ‘Hey, you're in a bit of a meltdown right now. Why don't you just take some time and think through all this and watch us play (UCLA)? You're going to have to watch from the stands, then let's get back together, because I'd be willing to go to bat for you if I believe you really want to be a Cougar football player.'"

Moos frequently points out that he does not attend practices of any WSU teams. Media cover all WSU football practices and games and have not reported any physical abuse by coaches.

"I feel I'm on top of things," Moos said. "I have members of my staff that (also) are, in all aspects of practices, locker rooms, team meetings and all that.

"Not that they're sent there to spy; they have a job to do, whether they're a trainer, an equipment man, strength coaches, whatever.

"I've always felt in my long career (as an athletic director), I don't micromanage. I don't go to practices, but I have people that do, because it's their job. They know if there's anything out of the ordinary that I need to know about it."

On Sunday, WSU president Elson S. Floyd requested both a WSU and Pac-12 review of the football program. Moos said he spoke to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott at the UCLA game about having a conference representative involved.

"I have not seen it cross that line (to player abuse by coaches)," Moos said. "We're going to take another look at it. We're going to get some ‘fresh eyes' (from the conference), and if there is something that needs to be addressed, we're going to address it."

Moos said "there's no easy transitions" when a new coaching staff is hired. Leach brought with him a reputation for being highly demanding.

"His approach is unwavering," Moos said. "He's not wishy-washy. He knows what his standards are, what his coaches' standards are and what the players' standards are. If any of the above don't want to meet the standards, they can go take their services elsewhere, because we're focused on doing it the right way, but on building a football program at Washington State that is sustainable and a source of pride for everybody."