Idaho football coach Robb Akey said this morning the winless Vandals have “washed away” a 66-0 loss to North Carolina. At the same time, he’s glad that Idaho is now “playing WAC conference people,” a reference to Saturday’s conference opener with New Mexico State at home.
But with UI still working on an FBS independent schedule for next year, Akey also knows the Vandals will have to play two to three games against BCS-conference competition. “It is what it is,” he said.
We have more from Akey after the jump.
With athletic director Rob Spear still trying to piece together 12 games for next year, Akey acknowledged the uncertainty is having a “tremendous impact on our recruiting, our planning for the future, on everything.”
The instability has most clearly manifested itself in recruiting. Akey said “there’s a lot of rocks getting thrown around” by opposing coaches about Idaho’s situation. The Vandals have a “couple” verbal commitments, he said, but others “who I think we have a shot at have been kind of waiting to see” what the schedule looks like.
Meanwhile, Akey has talked with members of the current roster about the Vandals’ situation — both before the season and more recently on a player-by-player basis if questions arise. Regarding this year’s team, which is 0-5 for the first time since 2003, he said, “We don’t need to worry about next year. We need to pay attention to now.”
Yet the Vandals’ sixth-year boss said the topic has come up with parents of current players, some of whom have contacted the NCAA to find out the options for their children have if Idaho were to move down to the Big Sky or go independent.
Akey has talked with Spear “quite a bit” about the scheduling process. As recently as last week, he offered his opinion to Spear on the best opponents given the circumstances. “There have been a couple suggestions that have come out of my mouth that I didn’t think I was capable of saying, but I have,” Akey quipped.
This week's opponent, NMSU, is in largely the same situation as Idaho. With the WAC no longer an option for football, both schools have scrambled to secure games as FBS independents. And it's likely the schools will play each other twice next year — once in Moscow and once in Las Cruces.
“I don’t think anybody here or at their place is a fan of having to do it twice in the same season,” Akey said. “It happens to be a little bit of a necessity right now because you’re looking at having to get 12 games schedule and the number of home games you have to have to make it work on the 1-A (FBS) level.”
Asked what a win against NMSU could mean for the future, Akey addressed the Vandals being more attractive to big-name schools as a future opponent if they don't win a game.
“When you’re talking about getting teams for next year and the following year, it’s a matter of what’s available out there. And if you think about it in that respect, it might be like when you get down to the end of the NFL season when you’re looking at whoever comes in last gets the first draft choice, right? So does that benefit those guys if they don’t win and they come in last? Nothing benefits you from not winning a game.
“… If we don’t win a game, who wouldn’t play us? I think the newspaper said something about that,” a reference to Troy Warzocha’s column in the Lewiston Tribune.
“We’re not setting up on that,” Akey continued. “Independent scheduling is a challenge. There’s no doubt about it. … Every game that we can win is going to help us be a better football program, and that’s all that matters. … People are going to play us or not play us. They don’t give a damn what happens with our game this week or the rest of the season. They’re looking for either a home game or either a road game.”
He also said this about recruiting and his critics: “A win is everything. That matters more than anything. You have to understand: Getting invitations to homes was made before this season ever got started. Generally speaking, you’re received a little bit better walking in the door of a home visit wearing a new bowl ring as opposed to a bowl ring, or they’ve seen you on TV and you’ve got a good win-loss record behind you.”
“Obviously ‘most recent’ is now because everybody doesn’t care about yesterday,” he continued. It’s what have you done for me today that was good? That’s the way of the world.
“… We’ve got expectations in trying to make a lot of noise and win the WAC conference. Everybody’s going to look at me crooked when I say that. We haven’t won one game yet; why are we going to win the conference? Well, that’s the goal. And that’s the way the team is going to operate.”
Akey said defensive end Benson Mayowa didn’t make the trip to UNC for “personal” reasons, inferring that the senior starter was suspended. … Tight end Taylor Elmo (shoulder) sustained the lone new injury last week. … Akey hinted the previous week’s overtime loss to Wyoming might have had an effect on his players at North Carolina. “There was some sting coming off last week’s game, there’s no question about it,” he said.