The business of college football coaching hires has been conducted under a brighter spotlight with each passing year aided by the evolution of technology and social media. From tracking a private plane online, to a coach or administrator's family member posting a tweet that leaks info, nothing is secret.
That is why when Washington State was able to land Mike Leach as its coach, it surprised so many people. The Cougars conducted their search with the stealthiness of a military operation, and many had no clue that Leach was even on AD Bill Moos' radar.
The Seattle Times' Bud Withers had an outstanding column over the weekend on the "art of hiring a college football coach", in which he details Wazzu's pursuit of Leach, among other hires.
Of note from Withers:
Only a tight circle of confidants - "less than you can count on one hand" - knew he was on a plane to Key West, Fla., Nov. 15 to sound out free agent Mike Leach as a potential new football coach at Washington State.
Moos not only told kept it quiet, he covered his tracks as well.
[Moos used] a private credit card to further the veil of secrecy. He didn't enlist a so-called "head hunter" search firm, opting instead for a trusted friend from Eugene, Ore., to act as third party..Until he came face-to-face with Leach in a Marriott hotel on the island, it was all done through intermediaries. "We never had a conversation until that day," Moos says.
All this before the season even ended, and the job was even officially open:
You could say Moos was living dangerously. His football team had two games to go, and he hadn't yet made a coaching change. He says he told Leach, "I'm hoping my guy (Paul Wulff) finishes strong," but Moos felt he might be hopelessly behind if he waited until the season was done to begin reconnaissance.
The Cougars lost those last two games, and on the day after the Apple Cup, he had a sit-down with Wulff, in which, Moos says, "I pretty much figured out where I was going."
Moos, clearly went to great lengths to keep the pursuit of Leach discrete. Now, the Cougars are hoping he makes an impact that everyone will notice.
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