Washington State linebackers coach Jeff Choate, a former Boise State assistant and Post Falls coach, had some strong comments today about Idaho's commitment to staying at the FBS level in a VarsityCdA.com article. We have the details below and Robb Akey's response after practice today -- as well as other Vandal football-related notes.
Much has been made of Idaho's decision to become an FBS independent -- for now -- rather than drop down to the FCS. (Last week, I wrote a story about how difficult it's been for UI to fill its 2013 schedule, and how the fan base seems to be split on what the Vandals should do.)
Choate, who graduated from St. Maries High and coached at Post Falls, told Ryan Collingwood (@Varsity_CdA) that "it’s really not right what (Idaho) is doing to its players in letting them get beat so they can get a paycheck."
His remarks came while answering a question about the state of high school football in North Idaho. Choate, who spent six seasons at BSU before joining MIke Leach's staff at WSU, said the Broncos "had a lot of conversations" about Idaho freshman quarterback Chad Chalich while he was at Coeur d'Alene High. BSU got another commit, he said, and decided to go in another direction.
Then Choate was quoted as saying: "When Idaho does what it should and play at the FCS level, I think Chalich will be an all-American player and Walter Payton Award candidate."
Told of Choate's comments, Akey said, "You’ve got to be kidding me."
"My initial response is just that coach Choate should just pay attention to his responsibilities at Washington State," Akey said. "And feel free to print that."
Akey is a former longtime WSU assistant. The Vandals and Cougars are scheduled to play next year for the first time since 2007, Akey's first year at Idaho.
The Vandals were in the Kibbie Dome this afternoon preparing to meet Wyoming on Saturday at home. Both teams are 0-3 and have lost to FCS teams without their starting QBs. Here's an update on the Vandals:
- Starting right tackle Jordan Johnson missed Tuesday's practice with lower back pain. While Akey said he should be able to manage the "aggravating" injury through the course of the season, Kyle Salm was in Johnson's place Tuesday. Meanwhile, Spencer Beale and A.J. Jones were at guard. Akey said guard Dallas Sandberg has been "moved around" because of Johnson's injury. Sandberg had been the starter at left guard. Veteran guard/center Guy Reynolds is also healthy again and is practicing; Akey said he's in the mix for playing time.
- Wide receivers Jahrie Level (ankle) and Justin Veltung (undisclosed) sat out the end of practice with what Akey seemed to think were minor injuries. Starting tailback Ryan Bass also appeared to be hobbled.
- Akey said he wasn't sure if Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith would play Saturday. The Vandals are preparing for both Smith and backup Colby Kirkegaard. Smith was carted off the field in a Week 2 loss to Toledo after being hit in the head. "If he’s at all available," Akey said, "they’re going to play him. But the way that took place, I don’t know the kind of progress that kid’s made."
- Idaho quarterback Dominique Blackman made it clear enough about what he thinks will happen against Wyoming: "We are going to get this win," he said, before repeating the same phrase. Blackman said he's excited to play his first home game as a Vandal -- he was suspended for the season opener with Eastern Washington -- and he hopes that 9,000 to 10,000 fans show up. "None of that matters. We’ve just got to win. We have to win this game, period."
Safety Gary Walker, when asked about the big plays the Idaho secondary has given up, said this: "I think it’s just needing to find the ball and make a play on it instead of maybe getting nervous in those situations and maybe putting ourselves out of position. Maybe not nervous but putting ourselves out of position."