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Big Moos-take

Resignations, particularly when publicly explained in press conference format are rarely candid. They are almost always comfortably couched in talk of family, “personal reasons,” and reiteration of the successes of the soon-to-be departed. The resignation of Athletic Director Bill Moos has thus far fit the traditional resignation mold well… from the outset, justification has centered on “personal reasons,” and there was talk of cattle ranching and spending more time with the kids. Let’s face it though, people who claw their way to positions like Moos’s don’t just drop everything to hang out in rural Idaho because they woke up one morning and realized that life was slipping through their fingers. So, to find the real reasons, the press conference must be dissected and parsed for any indication of the bureaucratic wrangling that inevitably precedes an unexpected high-profile resignation. Luckily for lazy arses like myself, the ‘Ol Dirty Emerald has obligingly reported the details of the conference, from which a fun, if speculative, hypothesis can be drawn: Phil Knight got Moos fired!

The previously linked Register-Guard fluff piece mentions this possibility ever so briefly, but then curtails all speculation in favor of Moos’s “farm and family” line simply because “when asked if the Moos resignation was being in any way orchestrated by Knight or to appease Knight, a source close to Moos said ‘absolutely not.'” The press conference, which was held after the Reg-Guard story, certainly paints a different story, especially when taken with the requisite press conference grain of salt. According to ‘Ol Dirty, “Moos made the decision after conversations with Frohnmayer about the direction of the athletics department, most notably Oregon’s plans to build a new basketball arena to replace the aging McArthur Court. Plans have recently stalled because of inadequate financial backing.” Oh, and by-the-way, the story goes on to mention, not only has Phil not signed on to the plans (a requisite for the University to do anything expensive), but Moos and Knight have sparred in the past. “I don’t really think we’ve had feuds,” Moos said of Knight. “I think we’ve had some differences of opinion on some things, but there’s never been a nasty scream-fest or anything.” I’m sorry, but if you have to publicly state in your resignation press conference that you and the Universities sugar daddy have not been having a 12 year-long “nasty scream-fest,” then something is afoot.

So here’s the conspiracy theory: After years of a not-quite scream-fest between Knight and Moos, culminating in the track team controversy of a year ago, Knight had had enough of Moos, and decided that the new arena was the stick he would use to squash him like a  little bug. Knight summoned Frohnmayer to his throne of skulls, removed his wrap-around shades and spoke in a deep and terrifying voice “Moos must go… I command it.” Prostrating himself before Knight, Frohnmayer managed to squeak “but master… he has served us so well. Our athletics have come such a long way under his guidance.” “Silence fool,” thundered Knight, his voice booming with wrath, “All our success has come from my money, and my uniforms, and my marketing… this is Nike U! And if you want to even consider the possibility of a new basketball arena, you will do my bidding. Exile him to Idaho!” To which Frohnmayer could only answer “yes, my dark prince.” That’s how it really happened.

  1. Meghann says:

    I think Moos is going to eastern Washington. He’ll probably just have a vacation home in Coeur d’Alene, which isn’t exactly rural Idaho.

    But yeah, good synopsis. I thought Canzano’s column today was right on the money.

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