By Mick Holien
If my count is correct I worked for a half dozen athletic directors at the University of Montana.
Remember I never was an employee at UM instead working as an independent contractor at some times and as a radio station employee during others.
And I had few difficult situations with the numerous football and basketball coaches I worked with and the same certainly holds true with athletic directors.
But with Bill Moos, who just accepted the Nebraska AD job, suffice it to say it was far more than a business relationship.
Maybe it was because he grew up close to my hometown of Spokane in Edwall where his Dad was a state legislator.
Or that he was All-Academic and all-Pac 8 performer as a Washington State University tight end who culminated his career participating in the prestigious East-West game.
But when he assumed the helm at as Director of Athletics at UM in the spring of 1990 replacing Harley Lewis who resigned to take a position with the NCAA until he departed just prior to the 1995 title game at Marshall, let’s just say we hit it off.
Bill actually came close to leaving for WSU in 1994 when Jim Livengood departed Pullman for Arizona. After all he’d been a longtime assistant AD through several regimes.
But while news reports paint a different picture he told me it was too soon since he played in Pullman, for a time ran a restaurant in town and might have consumed his share of good cigars and fine scotch.
And when he landed the Montana job where those political attributes he learned from his Dad, smooth talking and fund raising expertise highly benefitted the high flying Grizzly program.
With the sudden retirement of Don Read came his first hire, Mick Dennehy, who ran the table through the schedule and the playoffs with 14 straight until losing to Randy Moss and Chad Pennington and Marshall.
Moos also hired Blaine Taylor to head the hoop program after Stew Morrill suddenly departed for Colorado State in ’91.In seven seasons Taylor won 141 games.
My favorite time with Moos centered on Griz benefactor John Hoyt, after whom the Washington Grizzly Stadium floor was named, then unceremoniously removed without publicity leaving just speculation before last season.
A highly successful Great Falls attorney John liked to take people to the confines of the Jolly Roger Ranch east of the Electric City.
I won’t repeat my favorite outing here but suffice it to say if you ask some old timers about the search for “Holien Falls” you will hear quite a tale.
Only Brad Salonen, Moos and possible WSU AD heir apparent Mike Marlowe know the true story.
Bill moved to Oregon where initially it is said he smoothed the school’s rocky relationship with Nike benefactor Phil Knight and as usual raised money.
And while he reportedly leaves behind a $10-plus million deficit in Athletics in Pullman with an ambitious building program, news reports indicate the Annual Giving program increased by 81 percent under his tenure.
Just a rural kid, says Moos who owns a cattle ranch south of Spokane, his $500,000 salary doubled with being named to the Nebraska job where it is expected his first job will be to fire football coach Mike Riley.
Speculation centers around whether Moos attracts Cougar mentor Mike Leach to head to Lincoln with him.
I believe Leach has accomplished about as much as he can in Pullman and will opt for a fresh Cornhusker start.