After Idaho's 45-9 loss at Utah State this afternoon, athletic director Rob Spear said five finalists have been named for the vacant head coaching position. Spear said an announcement would not come tomorrow, but he wants to move “as quickly as possible.”
We've got more from Spear after the jump.
Spear said the five finalists will have face-to-face interviews. When asked if the meetings would be on campus, he declined to specify where they would happen.
“I think we’ve been very thorough,” said Spear, who added that the search committee conducted 15 phone interviews. “We've talked to a variety of different coaches. I’m excited to get this thing done. And I'm excited to bring someone in who embraces the expectations we have as a university and as a department to get this football program moving forward.”
While Spear said it's important to get a coach named soon, he stressed the need to be careful and expects other coaching vacancies to pop up in the next week. “I want to make sure we take a look out there to see what's going on,” he said.
Idaho's AD commended interim Jason Gesser for holding players accountable and doing a “wonderful job.” The Vandals dismissed quarterback Dominique Blackman and linebacker Conrad Scheidt just days after Gesser replaced Akey, and since then he has suspended multiple players for a quarter, half or full game.
After praising Gesser, Spear added: “But it's time for us to move forward. It's time for us to start this rebuilding process.”
The Vandals finished 1-11 and 1-5 in the WAC. In the last two years, they have had more starting quarterbacks (four) than wins (three). Those four QBs — including Taylor Davis, who had three interceptions against Utah State — were picked off 38 times in 24 games.
Idaho's 39 turnovers lost this year were the most in the FBS since 2004, when Washington had 42 turnovers.
Spear emphasized that the school needs to focus on recruiting the Northwest and bringing in “tough, disciplined” players. He noted that Idaho is the only FBS program in the Northwest outside the Pac-12 (which is the case if you don't consider Boise in the Northwest).
Spear also reaffirmed Idaho's committment to stay at the FBS level. The Vandals will play as an FBS independent next year. Affer that? “We want to be in a western FBS conference,” he said.
The only current option that fits that bill is the Mountain West, which Spear said has a chance to be impacted by further national conference realignment.