With so much in doubt the past few months, Idaho fans were getting restless. Actually, many were beyond restless. But UI athletic director Rob Spear and president Duane Nellis made two announcements Friday that put the Vandals on more secure ground. We've got the details below.
The biggest news from yesterday? After two months of full-time, behind-the-scenes work, Idaho has its 2013 football schedule complete. We know 11 of the 12 opponents and that the Vandals will play five home games — six on the Palouse, as Spear pointed out repeatedly, when you count a game at Washington State on Sept. 21.
We also know Idaho's other athletic programs will compete long term in the Big Sky Conference, after one more season in the WAC.
We covered all this news — and other details — in our story for this morning's paper.
In one conference call with reporters, Spear and Nellis answered many questions the Idaho fan base had been wondering about since August, if not longer. Robb Akey can now take a schedule for next year to recruits, and it doesn't hurt that UI plans on signing a backup agreement with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
However, as the 1-6 Vandals prepare for Louisiana Tech later today (our preview is here), there are still issues to be ironed out on the future of football program. Spear was able to piece together next year's schedule and he said he'll start working on 2014 immediately (a few of the '13 opponents agreed to home-and-homes). But it's clearly very difficult to find games, particularly at home, as an independent.
The Vandals' top priority, Spear said, is to find a conference tor the football program — an FBS conference. “Right now we’re an FBS football institution and we plan on continuing down that road,” he said.
What happens if an FBS conference doesn't extend an invite? It seems likely that Spear and Nellis — if they think independence isn't sustainable beyond two years — would pull the trigger on dropping down to the FCS and joining the Big Sky.
Below is the Vandals' 2013 schedule. They will play two games with New Mexico State, both in November. It's also notable that Temple and Fresno State, both of which signed home-and-homes with Idaho, will play in Moscow next year.
One last note: A road game on Nov. 23 against a yet-to-be-named BCS opponent will net Idaho $950,000, Spear said. That's slightly more than what LSU paid UI to play this year, and $100,000 more than the payout to go to Ole Miss next year.
It's likely then that the unidentified opponent is either another SEC team or a powerhouse club from the Big Ten, Big 12 (or maybe the ACC). The SEC this week announced its '13 conference games, and four teams — Alabama, Auburn, South Carolina and Florida — are not scheduled to play a league game on Nov. 23. The Vandals are already slated to play at Florida in 2014. Spear told the S-R last month that the Vandals will collect $975,000 from the Gators — the largest payout in UI history.
|Aug. 31||at North Texas|
|Sept. 7||at Wyoming|
|Sept. 14||Northern Illinois|
|Sept. 21||at Washington St.|
|Oct. 5||Fresno State|
|Oct. 12||at Arkansas St.|
|Oct. 26||at Mississippi|
|Nov. 2||New Mexico State|
|Nov. 9||Old Dominion|
|Nov. 23||at BCS team, TBA|
|Nov. 30||at New Mexico St.|