MOSCOW, Idaho — Jason Gesser insists the Idaho football program can reach a level of consistency where bowl appearances become the norm, not a once-in-a-decade anomaly.
He’s also sure he wants to be at UI to see that vision come to fruition – whether he’s the permanent head football coach or not.
Gesser told The Spokesman-Review that if he’s bypassed for the full-time job he would gladly stay in Moscow as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach under the new coach.
“No bones about it, I want to be here,” said Gesser, who is 0-2 as interim coach. “I want to be here in the worst way. I love the place. I love the university. I love the community. I finally just got my family over this year and they love it. And so I don’t want to go anywhere else. I really don’t.”
Gesser is hopeful that he’ll get a sit-down interview after the season with athletic director Rob Spear and the university’s hiring committee.
Spear, who declined comment Thursday, said in a radio interview last weekend that he wants to “get a coach announced shortly after the season ends.”
The committee was set to conduct 10 to 12 phone interviews before winnowing down the candidate list.
“I think we are going to have a lot of tough decisions to make because there are a lot of good candidates,” Spear said on the Vandal Radio Network following UI’s loss to BYU.
After Robb Akey was fired Oct. 21, Gesser was given a little over a month with full control of the program. But he still approaches the job like he’ll be here for 20 years, as he put it in his introductory news conference.
The 33-year-old former Washington State quarterback said he talks with Spear every other day or so about budget and recruiting items. He also coaches and scouts with the long-term development of the program in mind.
It’s the only way he knows how to operate.
Yet Gesser, the second-youngest Football Bowl Subdivision head coach, understands the job he never saw coming so early in his coaching career could be over shortly after the Vandals’ season finale at Utah State. That’s why he’s trying to squeeze out as much as he can from what he calls “a great experience for me.”
The Vandals (1-9) were overwhelmed by BYU and let a tight game slip away against San Jose State two weeks ago. Still, Gesser likes how the team has come together since Akey was let go.
He also pointed to his players’ academic improvement and how the program is “starting to get things going, get things cleaned up,” an apparent reference to improved discipline on the field.
UI has committed four penalties per game under Gesser after averaging 7.5 in the first eight weeks of the season with Akey at the helm.
“That is all a process and showing that, hey, I can do this,” Gesser said. “I can make it go in the right direction and not just for a year or two, but for the long haul.”
Senior cornerback Aaron Grymes, the Vandals’ defensive captain, said the team has rallied around Gesser. And it’s grown closer in the process.
“It’s a hard job for him,” Grymes said. “But I think he’s done a good job of making practices funner because we know it’s going to be hard on us. … He’s been doing a lot for us, and I think he’s stepped up a lot.”
Gesser and the coaching staff have also kept a strong focus on recruiting. He noted that UI secured an oral commitment last week – one of only two so far, according to Scout.com – and will continue to go after players with the same intensity it’s had in the past.
“It is on a little bit of a hiccup right now, because obviously it is what it is right now,” Gesser said. “But the biggest thing about it is that our coaches are professional and are doing a great job of still keeping in contact with (recruits) keeping everything going. So whether it be us or somebody us else that comes in, ‘Here’s where it is. Here’s our contacts. Here’s what’s going on. You can re-evaluate them.’
“We’re doing what we’re paid to do right now, and that’s keep this program going.”