MOSCOW, Idaho – The process is creeping along compared to other coach’s extensions, but Robb Akey is pleased with where talks stand with University of Idaho athletic director Rob Spear on the reworking of his contract.
“We’re having good negotiations,” the Vandals football coach said after Thursday’s practice. “We’re making progress and I think that’s a very good thing.”
Akey is wrapping up the third year of a five-year deal that pays him $258,187 annually – among the lowest salaries for an FBS head coach. It only seems a matter of time until he is rewarded financially for reviving the long-dormant program.
After nine consecutive losing seasons, Idaho is 7-5 entering the Dec. 30 Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. The Vandals will take on Bowling Green at 1:30 PST.
Spear said Thursday that he and Akey have met three times about the coach’s future.
One of the talking points no doubt has been the salaries of Idaho’s assistants, which Akey mentioned during the regular season as something that needed to be addressed.
“We’re making progress,” said Spear, who was adamant that no official announcement on Akey’s contract will come until the Idaho State Board of Education signs off.
Spear said that can’t happen until the board’s next monthly meeting, scheduled for Feb. 17-18 in Boise. UI has until Jan. 19 to put discussion of Akey’s contract on the SBE’s agenda.
“When it’s appropriate, we’ll get that on the agenda,” Spear said.
Akey said he expects to bring four junior college players into the fold soon.
This is the first week teams are allowed to sign JC players to letters of intent.
The UI coach has spent much of the past few weeks recruiting. Speaking generally, he said prospective players and coaches have been more receptive to him and his staff than in previous years.
“I know when my coaches go walking into schools, there are a lot more people that want to see them,” he said. “Walking through airports, I’ve got people coming up to me. They’re excited about the season.
“They’re going to be at the bowl. They’ve seen on us on TV. I’m talking in airports in Texas and Portland, not just up here in our neighborhood.”
The Vandals are close to reaching their capacity from commitments for scholarships, the coach said.
Iupati keeps focus
Since the Vandals’ last game on Nov. 28, nearly every major All-America team has included UI left guard Mike Iupati. But the accolades haven’t changed his focus.
“It’s a blessing to me and it’s an honor … and a recognition of my hard work,” the senior said. “I never get satisfied. Keep working hard, so that way I can be the best.”
The American Samoa native, who didn’t played organized football until he was 14, has made four of the five NCAA-recognized first teams.
That includes honors from the Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America and American Football Coaches Association.
Iupati recorded 49 knockdowns, 21 pancake blocks and did not allow a sack in starting all of the Vandals’ 12 games.
“He’s a more fluid player right now and (he’s) doing things very, very well,” Akey said, comparing Iupati to last season.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Vandals had sold 2,700 of their 3,000 allotted tickets to the Humanitarian Bowl, Spear said. … … The Vandals will begin implementing their game plan for Bowling Green next week. … Akey said he’s pleased with the progress of quarterback Nathan Enderle, who’s recovering from a second shoulder injury.