Vandals struggle to sort it all out
MOSCOW, Idaho – Idaho football coach Robb Akey said Monday the winless Vandals have “washed away” a lost weekend at North Carolina – the 66-0 trouncing from the Tar Heels and every other detail of the cross-country trip.
“We exorcised it (Sunday),” Akey said.
What remains, though, is a crippling uncertainty about the Vandals’ yet-to-be-finalized 2013 schedule as a Football Bowl Subdivision independent.
Athletic director Rob Spear is still trying to piece together the final eight of 12 games for next year, and Akey said not having a full slate is having a “tremendous impact on our recruiting, our planning for the future, on everything.”
The instability has most clearly manifested itself in recruiting battles.
“There’s a lot of rocks getting thrown around” by opposing coaches about Idaho’s situation, Akey said. The Vandals have a couple verbal commitments, he added, but others “who I think we have a shot at have been kind of waiting to see” what the schedule looks like.
Meanwhile, Akey has talked with members of the current roster about the Vandals’ situation – both before the season and more recently on a player-by-player basis when questions arise.
Regarding this year’s team, which is 0-5 for the first time since 2003, he said, “We don’t need to worry about next year. We need to pay attention to now.”
Nonetheless, the Vandals’ sixth-year boss said the topic has come up with parents of current players, some of whom have contacted the NCAA to see what options their sons have if Idaho were to move to the Big Sky Conference or go independent.
Akey has also talked with Spear as recently as last week about finding the best opponents given the less-than-ideal circumstances. The Vandals have four games locked down for next year, only one of which is at home.
Spear told The Spokesman-Review last month he had contracts for eight games pending.
“There have been a couple suggestions (to Spear) that have come out of my mouth that I didn’t think I was capable of saying, but I have,” Akey quipped.
This week’s opponent, New Mexico State, is largely in the same situation as Idaho. With the WAC no longer an option for football, both schools have scrambled to secure games as FBS independents. And it’s likely UI and NMSU will play each other twice next year – once in Moscow and once in Las Cruces.
“I don’t think anybody here or at their place is a fan of having to do it twice in the same season,” Akey said. “It happens to be a little bit of a necessity right now.”
Even without a win in the nonconference portion of its schedule, Idaho’s goal remains claiming the WAC title, Akey said. Yet he also seems content on taking smaller steps.
“A win is everything. That matters more than anything,” he said. “You have to understand: Getting invitations to (recruits’) homes was made before this season ever got started. Generally speaking, you’re received a little bit better walking in the door of a home visit wearing a new bowl ring as opposed to a bowl ring, or they’ve seen you on TV and you’ve got a good win-loss record behind you.”
“Obviously ‘most recent’ is now because everybody doesn’t care about yesterday. It’s what have you done for me today that was good? That’s the way of the world.”