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The common joke on Twitter Saturday morning, after Idaho announced that the NCAA had slapped its football program with a 2014 bowl ban, was the Vandals didn’t need to be ineligible to be out of the running for the postseason. Idaho is coming off consecutive 1-11 seasons and has dropped 39 games over the last four dark years. The Vandals have advanced to just two bowls in nearly two decades of FBS existence. Pretty bleak, right? Sure, but that same hopelessness couldn’t be felt around the Kibbie Dome this spring. The Vandals have two promising young quarterbacks, better weapons at the skill positions than they’ve had in years and more playmakers on defense. They look ready to take a sizable step in year two of Paul Petrino’s tenure/Josh Wright, SR. More here. (Moscow-Pullman Daily News photo by Dean Hare: UI quarterback Matt Linehan (10) passes during the annual Silver and Gold game at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow Friday)
Question: Do you think the fortunes of the Idaho Vandal football team are on the rise?
He was a gregarious personality on the Washington State and Idaho sidelines, leaping, hugging and chest-bumping with his players for 14 seasons on the Palouse. But now, looking across the field at high school kids, Robb Akey keeps to himself. He doesn’t want to be a distraction at Moscow High football practice, so he sits where he won’t be in the way and doesn’t speak to coaches unless they approach him. It’s best this way, he said. The former Vandals coach doesn’t want to be a volunteer assistant. He doesn’t want to interfere with the coaching staff. “I’m just being a dad,” Akey said. For the first time since his sons, Jack and Daniel, started participating in sports, Akey has the time to travel to their games and be an involved father. It’s a role he was unfamiliar with 11 months ago, when Idaho fired him in his sixth season on the job/Josh Wright, SR. More here. (SR file photo)
Question: Who would you say was the best Idaho Vandals football coach of the last quarter century?
With Idaho's offense sputtering through the first two weeks of the season, coach Paul Petrino said he'll continue to platoon redshirt freshman Chad Chalich and junior Josh McCain at quarterback. But he also made clear who's atop the depth chart. “Chad’s the starter. Josh is just going to come in and play,” Petrino said. Petrino said McCain, a junior-college transfer, gave the Vandals a nice spark with his legs in a 42-10 loss at Wyoming. Chalich, meanwhile, “played really well” in the fourth quarter, the first-year coach said. The Coeur d'Alene native has completed 41 of 59 passes (69.5 percent) this season, but Petrino reinforced that he and McCain have taken too many sacks and “both made silly mistakes”/Josh Wright, SR. More here. (Former Coeur d'Alene High QB Chad Chalich throws against Wyoming Saturday)
Question: Have you lowered your expectations for the University of Idaho Vandals? Or were they already low?
The Idaho Vandals will not be without a football conference for long. Idaho, which will play the 2013 season as an independent, plans to join the Sun Belt as a football-only member in 2014, Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear told the Idaho Statesman on Monday. “There's a sense of relief, but we have a lot of work to do to get this program where it needs to be facility-wise. This is a positive step for sure,'' Spear said. Spear has repeatedly said football independence was not a long-term solution. But the move to independence allowed Idaho to buy time for the college football conference landscape to sort itself out. And that's what happened/Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: I'd consider this a good day for Idaho football. How about you?
LAS VEGAS – The elevator doors at the Orleans Hotel are papered over with the logo for the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament playing in the arena next door, which otherwise seems to be a secret. The other day a woman pushed the button and waited for a car to arrive, puzzled. “I don’t know what the WAC is,” she confessed to her husband. Join the club, ma’am. Not only what, but who. And where. And when, how and especially why. And speaking of eternal questions, here’s another: Will Don Verlin ever win a game in this tournament? The Idaho coach gets one more chance in 2014, and that’s it/John Blanchette, SR. More here. (AP photo: Idaho's Stephen Madison, center, is double-teamed in the Vandals' WAC tournament loss to New Mexico State on Thursday)
Question: Are you glad/sad that University of Idaho will jump to the Big Sky from the WAC in 2014 for all sports except football?
Update: Gesser: UI will visit in offseason possibly monitoring or limiting Twitter among players. Says Elmo's suspension was for more than his tweet — Josh Wright via SR sports tweet.
A University of Idaho football player who put out a tweet criticizing the school's athletic director for firing the head coach has been suspended from the team. Athletic Director Rob Spear told The Spokesman-Review (http://bit.ly/ToiasB) Saturday that junior tight end Taylor Elmo could eventually return to the team but says it “depends on how Taylor responds.” Spear fired Robb Akey Oct. 21, a day after the Vandals lost 70-28 to Louisiana Tech and fell to 1-7. Later that day Elmo tweeted that Spear's decision to fire Akey was in part to keep the heat off Spear. Elmo tweeted, “Fire a man to keep your own job???”/KHQ. More here.
Question: Was Idaho right to suspect Elmo for tweet dissing AD Rob Spear?
Robb Akey knew his Idaho coaching staff needed a pick-me-up after a 70-28 loss to Louisiana Tech on Saturday. So he called a staff meeting for Sunday afternoon to suggest some changes, find some bright spots and go over recruiting plans heading into the final four games of the season. Before he got to meet with his staff, however, Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear fired Akey. “I didn't expect it in the middle of the season. I knew we needed to win more games. We needed to win more — and that was an ugly game on top of it,” Akey told the Idaho Statesman on Tuesday evening. “I expected to be able to finish the season”/Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP file photo)
Question: Should AD Spear have waited until season's end to fire Coach Robb Akey?
Mid-afternoon on Monday, the sign outside the most prominent coach’s office in the Kibbie Dome still read: “Robb Akey, Head Football Coach.” A few hours earlier, Jason Gesser had met with the media for the first time as Idaho’s interim coach. And 18 hours before his introductory news conference, he first heard that Akey – his former boss and coach at Washington State – had been fired. “It’s been a whirlwind,” Gesser said. Gesser had yet to process all that had unfolded, and he was at a loss to explain how he found himself – at the age of 33 and in his second year as a collegiate coach – running an FBS program. But he had plenty to say about his vision for the Vandals football program/Josh Wright, SR. More here.
Question: Isn't 33 way too young to be head coach of a top division college football team?
This morning Jason Gesser met with reporters for the first time after being named Idaho's interim head football coach. The 33-year-old former Washington State quarterback, wearing a black pinstripe suit with a gray tie, started crying a few minutes into the press conference when talking about the influence that Robb Akey, the man he's replacing, has had on him. “Akey’s been everything for me,” Gesser said. “The guy means a lot. … I mean, I owe my life to the guy”/Josh Wright, SR SportsLink. More here. (Dan Pelle's SR file photo of Jason Gesser earlier this fall)
Question: Do guys cry too much today?
Item: Idaho coach fired, Gesser takes over/Josh Wright, SR
Here’s a bet: Robb Akey comes down to the breakfast table this morning, looks at a family trying to hide its heartbreak and booms out the question he asks every room he enters: “HOW WE ALL DOIN’?” If only a life lived in capital letters could have repeated the “W” more often. Those rooms where Akey bowed the walls with his relentless spirit did not go concave with the air being sucked out in surprise when the University of Idaho sent out a feeble email notice Sunday afternoon that he’d been fired as head football coach. His record – 20-50 – was leaden. His relationship with athletic director Rob Spear was fractious. The support of Idaho’s constituency was indifferent. Oh, wait. That last part’s true no matter who happens to be the coach/John Blanchette, SR. More here.
Question: Do you agree with Robb Akey's firing?
Subtract the 2009 season and the University of Idaho football program has had little to celebrate the last decade or so. And now Idaho appears to have hit bottom, with no home for the 2013 season. The once proud program - which was a perennial playoff team at the Division I-AA level in the 1980s and early '90s - has bumbled along since joining the ranks of the Football Bowl Subdivision, struggling to find fan support with just one winning season since 2001 and five 10-plus loss years, all while falling 12 straight times to one-time rival Boise State (the average score of those contests was 51-18). The years of one and two win seasons scattered throughout the last decade and the neglect of its facilities has put Idaho in an unenviable situation/Devin Rokyta, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here.
Question: Anyone out there still think that the Idaho Vandals should fight to remain as an Independent in the top college football division?
The Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho, the smallest stadium in the FBS, seats about 16,500. (University of Idaho courtesy photo)
The Kibbie Dome is like no other venue in college football. It sits like an enormous barrel half-buried into the University of Idaho campus and, in fact, once was referred to as “a Campbell's Soup can cut in half” by a visiting coach. It ranks as both an architectural marvel and the smallest home field in the Football Bowl Subdivision, holding about 16,500 fans. Inside, the roof of laminated wooden beams arches over a field sunken below ground level, and new translucent panels over the end zones allow a flood of natural light. Goalposts are attached to the walls about 5 yards behind the end zone — rather than from a post in the ground — with those walls padded for players' protection. The Dome has been called too small and outdated by some, yet embraced by others who've seen (and heard) it at its packed-to-full-volume glory/Doug Williams, ESPN Playbook. More here.
Question: Do you enjoy watching games in the Kibbie Dome?
Idaho’s “new” season started just the way the Vandals wanted – with the victory that puts them in a tie for the Western Athletic Conference lead, albeit one game into the conference season. The Vandals did it by dispatching New Mexico State 26-18 before a Homecoming crowd at the Kibbie Dome with all three elements of the team making their presence felt. Possibly more than any other was kicker Trey Farquhar with field goals of 55, 53, 39 and 32 yards. “All three phases of the game contributed,” coach Robb Akey said. “It was a more complete game. It was our football team’s best game – because we won/University of Idaho Vandals athletics PR. More here. (Moscow-Pullman Daily News photo: Dean Hare)
Question: Yeah, this game still mattered to me. How about you?
With athletic director Rob Spear still trying to piece together 12 games for next year, Akey acknowledged the uncertainty is having a “tremendous impact on our recruiting, our planning for the future, on everything.” The instability has most clearly manifested itself in recruiting. Akey said “there’s a lot of rocks getting thrown around” by opposing coaches about Idaho’s situation. The Vandals have a “couple” verbal commitments, he said, but others “who I think we have a shot at have been kind of waiting to see” what the schedule looks like/Josh Wright, SR. More here. (Moscow-Pullman Daily News file photo: Dean Hare)
Question: If you were a high school football player, would you consider playing for the Idaho Vandals?
After her health took a sharp turn for the worse last year, Idaho cross country star Emily Paradis has had to live by two simple words - patience and perseverance. “I really struggled with it a lot. It wasn't just a physical barrier, it was mental, too,” Paradis said.Entering her sophomore year, the former Moscow Bear was one of the promising young runners who had helped Idaho win the 2010 Western Athletic Conference cross country championship. She didn't disappoint in her follow-up campaign, as her strong performance helped the team win the WAC championship once again. But before she could run indoor or outdoor track, she started feeling ill. “I started feeling light-headed when I was running. I would just feel really fatigued,” Paradis said. “I wasn't myself”/Ben Handel, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here. (Daily News photo: Geoff Crimmins)
Question: Did you run track or cross country in high school or college?
Les Miles will have his LSU football team focused and ready for Saturday's home game against WAC opponent, Idaho. But from an outsider's perspective looking in, this game is about as far from even as one can get. The Tigers have started the season in dominant fashion thus far, posting a 2-0 record and outscoring their opening opponents by a combined score of 82-17. LSU has been exceptional in all aspects of the game, specifically in the run game on offense and on the defensive line. Idaho, on the other hand, has been everything but dominant. The Vandals are 0-2 and have been outscored by the likes of East Washington and Bowling Green by a combined score of 41-16. In fact, Idaho has yet to score a rushing touchdown this season, which certainly dosen't bode well for the team's chances in this one/Bleacher Report. More here. (AP file photo of Idaho Vandals coach Robb Akey)
DFO: The best that Idaho can hope for in this game is to survive with few injuries, especially to promising quarterback Dominique Blackman Jr.
Question: What do you think is the best Idaho can hope for in this one-sided matchup w/No. 3 LSU?
UT-Arlington is set to join the WAC this year, but their first season will also be their last. A person familiar with the decision told the Associated press the Mavericks have accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt, and the conference will make the announcement Wednesday. The news doesn't come as a shock to anyone who follows the WAC, it's been rumored since late last month. But on the eve of this reality, the news really hits home. Without UT-Arlington in 2013, the WAC will consist of just five teams, and only two that play football … Idaho and New Mexico State. Those numbers aren't that of a stable conference, which is why both Boise State and the University of Idaho are looking for other options/Chris Nettleton, KBOI. More here.
Question: Do you hear the Big Sky Conference call growing louder?
It is sad comedy, this dry rot eating at the Western Athletic Conference, the University of Idaho’s happy athletic home. Here’s one of the amusing parts: So many change orders of addition, subtraction and dissection have attended the perpetual remodeling of the WAC that Idaho athletic director Rob Spear some time ago began deflecting requests for his thoughts, at least until the crew takes a smoke break. Then he unfolds an old script about “moving forward,” and awaits the next round of defections. And so it was this week, when more hell broke loose. “Until all this is finalized,” Spear was quoted as saying, “I am not going to comment.” Really? What makes him think “all this” will ever be finalized? Maybe it’s his permanent vow of silence on realignment? Or admission that Idaho has no option but to move back to its old neighborhood?/John Blanchette, SR. More here.
Question: Is it finally time for Idaho to throw in the towel and return to the Big Sky Conference?
The toughest, gutsiest call made by Idaho football in recent memory came when head coach Robb Akey decided to go for two points with four seconds left against Bowling Green in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl. Compared with the decisions the Vandal athletic department could be forced to make in the coming weeks, Akey’s decision — which, in case you’ve forgotten, worked and left the Vandals with a 43-42 victory — seems as routine as the game’s opening kickoff. The decision this corner is calling for the University of Idaho to make? Go back to the Big Sky Conference. In all sports/Patrick Sheltra, Twin Falls Times-News sports editor. More here.
Question: Should the Idaho Vandals continue to fight to be a “bit player” in the big college division or become a player in a revamped Big Sky?
The Big Sky Conference and Western Athletic Conference announced their all-conference picks on Monday, with four local players - two from Idaho and two from Eastern Washington - earning first-, second- or freshman-team honors.
EWU standout Brianne Ryan earned the top award for the Big Sky and was named MVP.
Read all about the awards here.
What a week for area Division I women's basketball teams. Read below for a roundup of the week's action.
Coming into the year, Idaho coach Don Verlin looked at this week — with games at home against Washington State and at Oregon State separated by three days — and knew it would be telling for the Vandals. Could they hang with two Pac-12 schools? It turns out they could, and they almost went 2-for-2 in upsets for the week. UI squelched every Oregon State rally attempt in the second half and rolled to a 74-60 rout of the Beavers in Corvallis — its most decisive win over a Pac-12 school since 1992. Idaho moved to 5-4, while OSU dropped to 6-2/Josh Wright, SR SportsLink. More here. (AP/Corvallis Gazette-Time photo: Oregon State's Jared Cunningham (1) faces defensive pressure from Idaho's Matt Borton (20) Friday night)
- Also: Freshman Connor Hill of Post Falls scores 8 off the bench (ESPN boxscore here)
Question: Do you follow Idaho Vandal basketball?
Throughout a half-hour joint interview late last week, Anthony Davis (right) and Mike Iupati (left) repeatedly finished each other's sentences. Barely two years after they met at a college football awards ceremony, they call themselves brothers. The 49ers picked both of them in the first round of the 2010 draft to clear paths for Frank Gore and protect Alex Smith. They couldn't have predicted how the two offensive linemen would look after one another. “When they got him at (No.) 17, that just made my draft day that much better,” said Davis, whom the 49ers claimed with the 11th pick out of Rutgers/Gwen Knapp, San Francisco Chronicle. More here.
Question: Who is your favorite NFL football player? Why?
- Weekend Poll: A supermajority wants to see the Idaho Vandals return to the lower-division Big Sky Conference and re-form national rivalries with Montana, Montana State, & Eastern Washington. 85 of 120 respondents (70.83%) wants Idaho to quit trying to keep up with Boise State in Division I football and return to the Big Sky. Only 29 of 120 (24.17%) wants the Vandals to stay in Division I football at all costs. 6 (5%) were undecided.
- Today's Poll: Which of the anti-Bloem administration challengers will win Coeur d'Alene City Council seats Tuesday?
- Thursday Poll: A plurality of Hucks Nation voted that it's appalled that 3 of 4 Idaho congressmen received perfect 100% ratings for their voting records from the socially conservative Family Research Council. 61 of 129 respondents (47.29%) were appalled. Meanwhile, 38 of 129 respondents (29.46%) were delighted with the rating, and 27 of 127 (29.95%) didn't care either way. 3 were undecided.
- Today's Poll: Should Idaho athletics continue to try to keep up with Boise State now that Bronco footballers appear headed for the Big East?
Say, any way that mass exodus from the Western Athletic Conference can be accelerated? Like maybe starting this week? Subtraction in the ranks may be the only way the Idaho Vandals achieve any addition in the win column this fall. OK, one game does not a college football season make, so rather than suggest it’s going to be a long year for the Vandals let’s just say Thursday was a long night. Or a short one – all intrigue having been sucked out of their season opener before the second quarter was half gone. Bad timing on letting all the sunshine in through the Kibbie Dome’s end walls. This one deserved to be played in the shadows/John Blanchette, SR. More here. (Complete game story, boxscore coverage here)
Question: Will the Vandals bounce back?
Idaho quarterback Brian Reader is pressured by the Bowling Green defense into throwing an interception during the first half of their game at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow tonight. Bowling Green jumped out to a 30-7 halftime lead over the Vandals in their season opener. Bowling Green avenged its 2009 Humanitarian Bowl defeat by stopping host Idaho 32-15. See boxscore here And: Bruce Mann's first-half photo gallery here.
It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Not in the first game in the spiffed-up Kibbie Dome. Not after Idaho football coach Robb Akey declared his team ready for another march to the postseason. The Vandals, appearing ill-prepared for the start of the season, were steamrolled by Bowling Green 32-15 on the opening night of the college football season. In front of an announced crowd of 12,173 – the actual number looked smaller – the Vandals roared to a touchdown and defensive stop on the first two possessions Thursday night … then collapsed/Josh Wright, SR. More here.
Thoughts on the game?
On the first day of fall camp last month, Idaho football coach Robb Akey approached Brian Reader – a senior who bided his time behind a four-year starter – and supplied a clear message. “I remember the first practice we had out here,” Akey recalled last week. “I said, ‘We gave you the keys (to the offense) back there in the spring and you started driving. I want you to drive the damn thing fast now – and drive it like an Escalade, a fast Escalade.’ ” Just how well Reader has adjusted to his new role as the Vandals’ top QB – and how the offense has adjusted to him – will start to manifest itself tonight at 6, when Idaho kicks off its season by hosting Bowling Green in rematch of the memorable 2009 Humanitarian Bowl/Josh Wright, SR. More here. (Moscow-Pullman Daily News file photo: Dean Hare)
Question: Any predictions about tonight's game or the 2012 Vandal season?
The Idaho Vandals host Bowling Green at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Kibbie Dome to kick of their 2011 college football season. After nearly four weeks of fall practices, Coach Robb Akey reports that the Vandals are showing signs of marked improvement on the offensive and defensive fronts as well as stability in the backfields and among the receiving corps. You can read Akey's preseason State of the Idaho Vandals here. (Courtesy photo: Idaho Athletic Media Relations)
Question: Any predictions re: how the Vandals will do without Boise State on their schedule this year?
Former Idaho Vandal QB Nathan Enderle has signed a 4-year deal with the Chicago Bears! He was drafted by 'da Bears in the 5th of this year's NFL Draft. Chicago Tribune story here. (Photo courtesy of University of Idaho sports media relations)