Bill Moos

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos, left, says continued development of both lines is one key to NU's football future. “It all starts from there and goes out,” Moos said.

LINCOLN — Two years ago this weekend, Bill Moos signed his contract to become Nebraska’s athletic director when he and his wife, Kendra, from their eastern Washington home, popped in on the Husker game against Ohio State.

The 56-14 loss was a brutal affair featuring a languishing, overmatched Husker team and a half-empty stadium after halftime. Apathy off the field and on it.

Moos turned to his wife.

“We have a lot of work to do,” he said. Moos hired Scott Frost fewer than two months later.

Now, on the two-year anniversary of his arrival in Lincoln, Moos said the program has made considerable progress and learned important lessons just this season — in a loss at Colorado and wins over Illinois and Northwestern — that have helped with the “mental conditioning” of a team still learning how to win week in and week out. And Moos, in his office Wednesday, said he thinks Nebraska (4-2) has a chance to win every game on the rest of its schedule.

Still, he remains focused, as he was at Big Ten media days, on the Huskers winning six games so they can make a bowl and earn the extra month of practice. For a young, developing team, Moos said, the extra practice is crucial.

So is patience. For Nebraska’s program to be full blast again, Moos said, Frost and his staff need two more recruiting classes and two more years of developing a walk-on program Frost reinvigorated.

“Recruiting, we’re doing a really good job, but we’ve got a lot of young players,” Moos said. “We need to be able to draw upon players who have been in the system two or three years who have been developed, and then they start to fill in the two-deep. You’d have Scott’s first and second recruiting classes evolving into junior and seniors.”

The Huskers also need seasoned lines, Moos said, that include two-deeps full of fourth-year juniors. The defensive line, at least for this year, has that with three seniors, a fourth-year junior and two third-year sophomores in its top six.

NU’s offensive line doesn’t have a senior starter and six true freshmen are under development — and headed for redshirts — in the pipeline. In all, Frost has 12 high school linemen in his first two recruiting classes, and one — redshirt freshman center Cameron Jurgens — is playing significant snaps.

“It all starts from there and goes out,” Moos said.

Areas where Nebraska was deficient upon Moos’ arrival — nutrition, strength and conditioning, donor and institutional support of nationwide recruiting efforts — have been reset and improved and are now “ahead of the curve,” Moos said, but the “full impact” won’t be felt until two or three years after their installment.

The pragmatism differs some from Moos’ buoyant fan tour in 2018, when he joked that Ohio State and Michigan were “running a little bit scared” in preparation for Nebraska before Frost’s first season, but is in sync with Moos’ perspective at Big Ten media days, when he surprised media by saying 6-6 was a good goal for a team picked by many pundits to win the Big Ten West.

“Six is part of the evolution,” Moos said. “Now, we’d love to get to eight or nine, and I think we can win every game on our schedule, but I’ve been involved with building football programs, and you need to get to six because you get a whole other spring football practice.”

At Oregon in the mid-’90s, Moos saw the football program go 22-13 in his first three years as A.D. before hitting its stride and finishing 11-1 in 2001. At Washington State, more of a full rebuilding job, Moos hire Mike Leach posted three straight losing seasons before making a big jump in Year 4 that Leach has since sustained. A big reason, Moos said, was the offensive line, which evolved in depth and talent over Leach’s first four seasons.

The “hype” Nebraska received early in 2019, Moos said, was “great.”

“But I was being cautious in my role,” Moos said. “We need to improve each year. We’re 4-2 right now. A year ago we were 0-6. That’s improvement.”

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NU was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for two weeks before a 34-31 loss at Colorado, a “revenge game” on the road where Nebraska “played maybe the best first half we’ve played all year,” Moos said.

But Nebraska “got in panic mode” after failing to score on the first drive of the third quarter and lost. Other lessons were learned at Illinois — where the Huskers escaped with a 42-38 win but learned about “the evils of the game — special teams and turnovers” — and against Northwestern, where NU didn’t turn the ball over and won at game’s end.

“A year ago, we lost that,” Moos said. “Stay focused, force a turnover, next man up at some key positions.”

The 48-7 loss to Ohio State — which mirrored the lopsided 2017 OSU game — required a “near-perfect” game that the Huskers failed to produce after committing three turnovers on their first four drives.

“There were lots of lessons to learn there and one of them was ‘the human equation’ wasn’t there for us yet,” Moos said. “To be blunt. We’ve got some really good players and we’re working hard and there’s some NFL players, but I looked at that offensive line of Ohio State?

“They’re not only 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, but they’re sculpted. First-rounders. Their secondary was unbelievable. Their quarterback just had total control and tempo. That’s a national championship-caliber team.”

For Nebraska to get back to that status, it has to learn how to win consistently at that level and recruit the best athletes, Moos said.

NU’s new $155 million football facility, to open in 2022, will help. Nebraska plans to raise $100 million privately with a prospect/cultivate/make-the-ask model with donors — $35 million has been verbally committed so far — with key consultation from former NU President Hank Bounds, who has a three-year $250,000-per-year contract with the University of Nebraska to lead fundraising efforts.

At Moos’ previous stops, he was the lead fundraiser. Bounds holds that role here and works with Garrett Klassy, Moos’ new senior deputy athletic director for external operations.

Once Nebraska selects a final design team and contractor — to this point, Moos said, the architecture work has been conceptual — Moos will “cherry pick the best features, put it in our recipe and end up with a really fine facility.”