TEMPE, Ariz. - Bill and Kendra Moos are happily married. Today, however, they're going to be on opposite sides.
For about three hours, anyway.
When Arizona State defensive tackle Bo Moos takes the field this afternoon against Washington State, Kendra, his mother, will be sitting with other ASU parents, and Bill – athletic director at WSU – will be surrounded by Cougars supporters at Sun Devil Stadium.
“She told me, ‘Honey, I love you and I love the Cougars, but that’s my baby and I’ve gotta be there for him,’ ” Bill Moos said with a laugh.
Bo, a redshirt junior, is starting part-time for coach Dennis Erickson, a longtime family friend and former WSU coach.
“He’s worked himself into a really steady football player,” Erickson said. “He’s not flashy. He’s started some, he’s our third guy (tackle) some, he’s 300 pounds, he’s strong and he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. I’ve been so pleased with him the last year it’s unbelievable.”
Bo was born in Pullman when his father was assistant athletic director at Washington State, but he grew up in Missoula and Eugene when Bill was AD at Montana and Oregon, respectively.
Bo made numerous trips to Pullman to visit his grandmother (who still lives in Pullman) and attend WSU football games. Bill starred on the offensive line at WSU in the early 1970s.
“From the time he was a little 4- or 5-year-old kid,” Bill said, “I was teaching him how to pass rush and how to tackle.
“I’d get down on my knees with a football in the basement in Missoula, and he’d put a pretty good lick on me, even at that age.”
The Sun Devils, usually solid on defense, did not “put a pretty good lick” on too many people during a 50-17 loss at California last week.
“It was really embarrassing,” said Bo, who shares his father’s gregarious personality. “I was ashamed to be a part of that.
“Collectively, as a team, we were just not ready to play, which is inexcusable.”
The Sun Devils are 21-point favorites for homecoming against the last-place Cougars in today’s Pacific-10 Conference contest.
Bo said WSU has shown “major improvement” since last season, and Erickson said the Cougars have made “unbelievable” progress since the start of this season.
“You have to give credit to Paul Wulff and his coaching staff,” said Erickson, who coached Wulff at WSU in 1987-88.
“They have done a great job.”
Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com ranks Wulff fourth and Erickson sixth among coaches “on the hottest seats” in college football. Bill Moos has been noncommittal on Wulff’s future. Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love told The Arizona Republic of Phoenix that she “fully expect(s)” Erickson will return. ... The Sun Devils have a league-low 13 seniors, only one of whom started last week. ... Just one of the five freshmen starting for WSU has redshirted, and that player (cornerback Nolan Washington) might be limited by the splint he’s wearing to protect the finger he broke last week at Stanford. ... Senior strong safety Chima Nwachukwu may test his balky hamstring today, but freshman Deone Bucannon (31 tackles the past two weeks) will continue to start. ... The forecast calls for sunny, mid-80s weather today.
WASHINGTON STATE (1-7, 0-5 PAC-10) AT ARIZONA STATE (3-4, 1-3)
KICKOFF: 4 p.m., Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
TV: None. RADIO: 850-AM, 1240-AM, 880-AM, 1300-AM.
THE SERIES: Arizona State leads, 22-12-2. Arizona State won last year, 27-14, in Pullman.
WHAT TO WATCH: WSU wide receiver Marquess Wilson, a true freshman, has eight catches for 40-plus yards. Look for him to test the ASU secondary early and often on deep routes. Jeff Tuel has topped 200 passing yards in all eight games.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The Cougars hope to snap a two-year losing streak in the Pac-10 and a three-year losing streak on the road.
TNT PICK: Washington State 34, Arizona State 31, OT.
Howie Stalwick, contributing writer