Bill Moos brought his typical entertaining and folksy style to his latest appearance on the "Husker Sports Nightly" radio program on Monday night, but he also addressed the sudden rash of scandals in the Big Ten and expressed confidence in his own department.
Nebraska’s first-year athletic director said ongoing events at Maryland, where a football player died during a summer workout and the program has been accused of a “toxic culture,” and Ohio State, where a committee is investigating whether head football coach Urban Meyer knew about and failed to report allegations of domestic abuse against wide receivers coach Zach Smith, are situations other schools must learn from.
“There have to be reporting lines, there has to be someone you can go talk to if something may be out of whack,” Moos said. “Learn from those, be proactive. That’s how I approach it, and make sure everybody has a means to report these kind of things because they are important. The safety and well-being of our student athletes is the most important, right there with moving toward their degrees academically.
“If you have the quality of young people that are going to be good in the classroom and focused on that as well as the field of competition and you have the right coaches and support staff, you’re not going to have to worry about that sort of thing. I’m very confident that at Nebraska we do it right and we’re going to continue to do it right.”
Moos, though, said he has confidence in his own shop and said it’s frequently a topic of discussion in coaches’ meetings, will be addressed in a full staff meeting in the near future and also among his six-person senior leadership group.
“You have communication lines going down and up and I believe in that," Moos said of his senior group. "We meet for three hours, my senior staff, on Tuesday mornings, and then they all have meetings with the people they’re responsible for. …
“My philosophy is to put people in places of leadership and then let them lead, but give them a blueprint that is a blueprint that has ownership from all of them that you know what’s expected.”
Moos restructured the department over the course of the winter and often says the sign of a great restaurant is if a patron can’t tell whether a chef is in the kitchen.
“This chef can leave the kitchen and know that that entrée and the service is going to be just the way it would be if I was in the kitchen,” he said.
Other quick hits from Moos:
* Moos confirmed that bathrooms and concessions were added to the North end of Memorial Stadium over the spring and summer, “which we really needed to do.”
He added that upgrades to the South end are in the plans for the future.
Those additions and the new LED lighting system, which came with a $1.75 million price tag and was completed over the summer, were the main upgrades at the stadium this year.
* Moos again raved about new director of performance nutrition Dave Ellis, adding that Ellis will have a staff of five and is in the process of making hires.
Ellis has day-to-day oversight of the football program, but his department will work with student-athletes across the department.
Ellis’ staff and $250,000 salary, Moos said, provides good return on investment.
“We want the best in the business,” Moos said. “You have to pay a little more, but that’s OK. You pay a little more to get a lot more. I don’t have any problem with that. People want to be part of the show here. This is the happenin’ place.
“Nutrition is such an important part of the business. You can’t put two-bit gas in a sports car and expect it to perform.”
* Moos said Nebraska women’s basketball has a 95 percent season ticket renewal rate and men’s basketball is at 93 percent.
* As impressed as his contemporaries around the country were that the Red-White Spring Game sold out, Moos said they were equally so when he’s said that the volleyball team has sold out an intrasquad scrimmage on Aug. 18.
“Now listen, that’s one thing in football to sell out a spring game, but a preseason scrimmage in volleyball? And I say, ‘Now listen guys, that’s not just 2,000 or 3,000, that’s a packed house at a big venue,'" Moos said. "It tells you what this program is all about.”
Later, he called trying to get into an NU volleyball game “the toughest ticket in Nebraska, and that includes a Kenny Chesney concert, or Brad Paisley; I’m just telling you.”
* Moos is clearly excited about the impending start to football season. A former tackle at Washington State, Moos said the, “pilot light” kicks on about this time of year and he’s expecting a, “big pop,” on Sept. 1 when Akron comes to Lincoln.
“And I’m not talking about the balloons,” he said. “I’m talking about when they hit the field through the Tunnel Walk and such, it’s going to be a tremendous show and a great feel of passion.”