The Idaho football team is 3-16 since the start of 2011. A loss Saturday to high-powered Louisiana Tech would be Robb Akey's 50th defeat in less than six full seasons. For these and other reasons, Akey understands why "everybody’s all (ticked) off right now."
After Wednesday's practice, he talked with The Spokesman-Review about how he and his players have dealt with the criticism. Read his thoughts below.
Just hours after Idaho was routed by Texas State, Akey checked his email and noticed a note from a former player. It read in part: "Hey, coach. Based on the internet chatter right now, I’m assuming you’re not getting too many real positive emails. So I just wanted to send you one and say thanks."
Said Akey of the message, "It meant a lot. That was awesome. It’s one of the reasons you do this."
With the Vandals 1-6 after overhauling the offensive coaching staff in the offseason, the frustration of fans and alumni has centered on Akey and athletic director Rob Spear. UI has failed to parlay its 2009 Humanitarian Bowl triumph into meaningful progress for the long-suffering program; in fact, the Vandals have progressively spiraled downward since.
Idaho’s six losses this fall have been by an average of almost 30 points per game. The blowouts on the field have coincided with a murky future for the Vandals as an independent. Spear said last week he has 11 of 12 games scheduled for 2013, but it’s taken much longer — eight weeks and counting after the original announcement — to get to this point.
Akey said he only occasionally reads local newspapers to “check the temperature” of writers and fans. But now?
“I don’t need to check the temperature,” he said. “I know that everybody’s all (ticked) off right now. So I’m anticipating those things. And it’s human nature, and it’s our world right now. So yeah, I know it’s there.
"But I address it more along the lines of, ‘Let’s pay attention to what we can do. I know everybody’s telling us what we can’t do. We don’t need to listen to that.’ We’ve got the opportunity to do what we can do. We can make everybody else right, or we can pay attention to what we can do and how we can we can do it well.”
Senior cornerback and defensive captain Aaron Grymes said Idaho players try to avoid what’s being written and said about the team, largely because they know most of it is negative right now. “… Everybody’s going to hate you when you’re doing bad and everybody’s going to love when you’re doing good,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we’re the team that goes out on the field. It’s 11 people out at one time, not 100,000 talking about it on the internet.”