Tubs at the Club Podcast: Back To The WAC

Football in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) is coming back! But, should Idaho go back to the WAC? The WAC has FBS ambitions and could be a back door to an FBS return for the Vandals. Will it be an FBS-worthy conference? We discuss that and what it means for Idaho’s FCS and FBS future…again.

On the mic: Chris Hammond, Brian Marceau, Alex Boatman
Release date: Jan. 8, 2021

Click on the links below for our podcast pages. Embeds below!

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Ranking the Schools out West

authors note: I originally wrote this piece “The Company You Keep” in late 2018. It’s intention was to compare Idaho to the other division 1 institutes out west. In statistics I saw relevant with intentions of creating new a FBS Conference, using the “Front Porch Argument”.  I ened up not posting it because I felt it lack anything solid to my argument of needing a new land grant FBS conference and had to many cherry picked stats and ignored the others. 

However, with the recent development at Eastern Washington about cutting athletics. This coupled with our upcoming FCS v FBS live podcast on April 17th. The research I preformed provides a bit of a lense on Eastern and Idaho in the greater picture out west.

The numbers used are slightly outdated now. This is being published simply because I now feel it provides some additional information in the wake of current news. It does not fit the narrative initially used through the piece.

 

The Company You Keep.

 

There have been many opinions on Idaho in the FCS.  I want to compare the situation with something not talk as much about. Where are Idahos “Peer” Institute? FBS or FCS? People say football is the front porch to a university. They never talk about the neighborhood the front porch is in. Now decide if it is better to have the best front porch in the least desirable neighborhood or the worst front porch in the most desirable neighborhood. Today we are going to look at all the “Western” neighborhoods and have people decide where they think Idaho’s front porch would be best located.

I am going to do my best to layout just the statistics and let people come to their own conclusions. After reading article I encourage everyone to comment below or tweet us @TubsAtTheClub with what you found from article. I will provide some commentary after each statistical grouping.

I am going to limit this to the west. West will be as if you trace the border from south to north of the Texas Louisiana border and on its way north of States with DI sports. I also leave out the state of Texas. The reason I do this is simply the Eastern seaboard, Midwest, South & Texas just have more quantity of schools and history, paired with different challenges from the west. The West is very different in university structure then the rest.

One of the biggest things is Land Grant institutions. Land grant institutes will be typically the most similar Universities to Idaho. Another being Endowment and Enrollment. For Athletics, we are going to look at Facilities (to the best of our abilities), Attendance and budget.

These will be broken down in 4 “Neighborhoods” Pac 12, Mountain West, Big Sky & other. The first 3 are obviously western conferences. The “other” category is made of independents out west or schools belonging to other conferences along our imaginary boundary we setup for the west.

The Land Grant institutions in the states we are considering possible peer institutes are:

North Dakota State

South Dakota State

Nebraska

Kansas State

Oklahoma State

Montana State

Wyoming

Colorado State

New Mexico State

Idaho

Utah State

Arizona

Washington State

Oregon State

Nevada-Reno

California – Berkeley

Hawaii – Manoa

 

ENDOWMENT

According to the 2016 Endowment Numbers Idaho’s Endowment is $237.5 Million. We are going to look at Schools in the west from top to bottom to see where we rank.

Big Sky Mountain West Pac 12 Others
UC Davis

$1.6 Billion

IDAHO

$237.5 MILLION


North Dakota

$230.6 Million

Cal Poly

$190.3 Million

Montana

$167.3 Million

Northern Arizona

$143.9 Million

Montana State

$138.2 Million

Weber State

$110.6 Million

Northern Colorado

$76.3 Million

Portland State*

$73 Million

Idaho State* (2017)

$53 Million

Sacramento State

$39.5 Million

Eastern Washington

$18.4 Million

Southern Utah

(Not Available?)

Wyoming

$422.2 Million

New Mexico

$393.2

Million

Utah State

$325.5 Million

Nevada

$302.6 Million

Colorado State

$286.3 Million

Hawaii

$271.1 Million

IDAHO

$237.5 MILLION


UNLV

$230.8 Million

San Diego State

$219.9 Million

Fresno State

$146.3 Million

San Jose State

$125.6 Million

Boise State

$88.8 Million

Air Force (Academies don’t make release)

Stanford

$22.2 Billion

USC

$4.6 Billion

Washington

$2.9 Billion

UCLA

$1.6 Billion

Cal-Berkeley

$1.5 Billion

Colorado

$1 Billion

Utah

$1 Billion

Washington State

$907.8 Million

Oregon

$758.6 Million

Arizona

$754.6 Million

Arizona State

$612.5 Million

Oregon State

$492.5 Million

IDAHO

$237.5 MILLION


 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

$1.5 Billion

Nebraska

$1.4 Billion

Kansas

$1.4 Billion

Tulsa

$957.5 Million

Oklahoma State

$847 Million

Kansas State

$457.3 Million

San Diego

$449.7 Million

IDAHO

$237.5 MILLION


New Mexico State

$214.7 Million

South Dakota

$209 Million

North Dakota State

$150.4 Million

South Dakota State

$104.7 Million

BYU

(Religious institutes don’t release)

 

 

* Numbers found on different source than the res

 

 

ENROLLMENT

 

Idaho 2018 Enrollment 12k

Big Sky Mountain West Pac 12 Others
UC Davis

37.2k

Northern Arizona

31k

Sacramento State

30.6k @

Weber State

27.9k

Portland State

27.3k @

Cal Poly

22.1k

Montana State

16.9k

North Dakota

14.4k

Idaho State

13.3k

Northern Colorado

12.9k

Eastern Washington

12.6k @

IDAHO

12k


Montana

10.6k

Southern Utah

9.4k

San Diego State

30.1k @

San Jose State

27.7k @

Colorado State

25.9k

UNLV

25.2k @

Utah State

24.6k

Fresno State

22.2k

Boise State

20.7k @

New Mexico

19.5k

Nevada

18.3k

Hawaii

12.8k

IDAHO

12k


Wyoming

9.7k

Air Force

4.2k

 

 

UCLA

45.5k

USC

43k

Arizona State

42.4k

Arizona

35.1k

Washington

31.3k

Cal-Berkeley

30.5k

Washington State

29.6k

Colorado

29k

Oregon State

25.8k

Utah

24.6k

Oregon

22.9k

IDAHO

12k


Stanford

7k

 

 

 

 

BYU

31.2k

Oklahoma

22.8k

Nebraska

20.9k

Oklahoma State

20.9k

Kansas

19.3k

Kansas State

18.4k

IDAHO

12k


North Dakota State

11.9k

New Mexico State

11.7k

South Dakota State

10.8k

South Dakota

10.2k

San Diego

9k

Tulsa

3.3k

 

 

@ Considered a commuter School

 

World Report & US News Best School 2019 Rankings

Idaho is #165(t)

Big Sky Mountain West Pac 12 Others
UC Davis

38(t)

IDAHO

165(t)


Montana

201(t)

Montana State

205(t)

North Dakota

205(t)

Northern Colorado

230-301(t)

Northern Arizona

230-301(t)

Portland State

230-301(t)

Eastern Washington

Not Ranked

Southern Utah

Not Ranked

Sacramento State

Not Ranked

Weber State

Not Ranked

Cal Poly

Not Ranked

Idaho State

Not Ranked

San Diego State

127(t)

Colorado State

140(t)

Hawaii

157(t)

IDAHO

165(t)


Wyoming

183(t)

New Mexico

187(t)

Nevada

201(t)

Utah State

205(t)

Fresno State

205(t)

UNLV

230-301

Boise State

230-301

San Jose State

NR

Air Force

NR

 

 

Stanford

7

UCLA

19

Cal-Berkeley

22(t)

USC

22(t)

Washington

59(t)

Colorado

96(t)

Oregon

102(t)

Arizona

106(t)

Arizona State

115(t)

Utah

119(t)

Washington State

140(t)

Oregon State

140(t)

IDAHO

165(t)


 

 

 

 

BYU

60(t)

San Diego

85(t)

Tulsa

106(t)

Nebraska

129(t)

Kansas

129(t)

Kansas State

147(t)

Oklahoma State

157(t)

IDAHO

165(t)


New Mexico State

221(t)

North Dakota State

215(t)

South Dakota State

226(t)

South Dakota

226(t)

Oklahoma

Not Ranked

 

 

(t) Tie

 

Stadium Capacity

Idaho is 16,000

Big Sky Mountain West Pac 12 Others
Montana

25,200

Sacramento State

21,195

Montana State

19,000

Weber State

17,000

IDAHO

16,000


Northern Arizona

15,300

North Dakota

12,283

Idaho State

12,000

Cal Poly

11,075

UC Davis

10,849

Eastern Washington

8,600*

Northern Colorado

8,533

Southern Utah

8,500

Portland State

7,600%

 

San Diego State

70,561

Hawaii

50,000

Air Force

46,692

Colorado State

41,200

Fresno State

41,031

New Mexico

39,224

UNLV

36,800

Boise State

36,387

San Jose State

30,456

Wyoming

29,181

Nevada

26,000

Utah State

25,513

IDAHO

16,000


 

 

 

UCLA

90,888

USC

77,500

Washington

70,500

Cal-Berkeley

62,717

Arizona State

56,232

Arizona

56,029

Oregon

54,000

Stanford

50,424

Colorado

50,183

Utah

45,807

Oregon State

45,674

Washington State

32,248

IDAHO

16,000


 

 

 

Oklahoma

86,112

Nebraska

86,047

BYU

63,470

Oklahoma State

60,218

Kansas

50,071

Kansas State

50,000

New Mexico State

30,343

Tulsa

30,000

South Dakota State

19,340

North Dakota State

19,000

IDAHO

16,000


South Dakota

10,000

San Diego

6,000

 

* Started fundraising/have real plans for new stadium

% Play a few game in larger facility

 

Now that we see where everyone in the conferences out west rank lets rank all schools 1 through 50 in all the categories above and this should start What 12-13 schools are most similar in all subjects. I will then sort everyone by their average finish in the categories and create 4 new “Neighborhoods” as they were.

Endowment Enrollment School Ranking Stadium Capacity
1.      Stanford

2.      USC

3.      Washington

4.      UCLA

5.      UC Davis

6.      Cal-Berkeley

7.      Oklahoma

8.      Nebraska

9.      Kansas

10.      Colorado

11.   Utah

12.   Tulsa

13.   Washington State

14.   Oklahoma State

15.   Oregon

16.   Arizona

17.   Arizona State

18.   Oregon State

19.   Kansas state

20.   San Diego

21.   Wyoming

22.   New Mexico

23.   Utah State

24.   Nevada

25.   Colorado State

26.   Hawaii

27.   Idaho


28.   UNLV

29.   North Dakota

30.   San Diego State

31.   New Mexico State

32.   South Dakota

33.   Cal Poly

34.   Montana

35.   North Dakota State

36.   Fresno State

37.   Northern Arizona

38.   Montana State

39.   San Jose State

40.   Weber State

41.   South Dakota State

42.   Boise State

43.   Portland State

44.   Idaho State

45.   Sacramento State

46.   Eastern Washington

47.   Southern Utah

1.      UCLA

2.      USC

3.      Arizona State

4.      UC Davis

5.      Arizona

6.      Washington

7.      BYU

8.      Northern Arizona

9.      Sacramento State

10.   Cal-Berkeley

11.   San Diego State

12.   Washington State

13.   Colorado

14.   Weber State

15.   San Jose State

16.   Portland State

17.   Colorado State

18.   Oregon State

19.   UNLV

20.   Utah

21.   Utah State

22.   Oregon

23.   Oklahoma

24.   Fresno State

25.   Cal Poly

26.   Nebraska

27.   Oklahoma State

28.   Boise State

29.   New Mexico

30.   Kansas

31.   Kansas State

32.   Nevada

33.   Montana State

34.   North Dakota

35.   Idaho state

36.   Northern Colorado

37.   Hawaii

38.   Eastern Washington

39.   Idaho


40.   North Dakota State

41.   New Mexico State

42.   South Dakota State

43.   Montana

44.   South Dakota

45.   Wyoming

46.   Southern Utah

47.   San Diego

48.   Stanford

49.   Air Force

50.   Tulsa

1.      Stanford

2.      UCLA

3.      Cal-Berkeley

3.    USC

5.    UC Davis

6.    Washington

7.    BYU

8.    San Diego

9.    Colorado

10.  Oregon

11.  Tulsa

11.  Arizona

13.  Arizona State

14.  Utah

15.  San Diego State

16.  Nebraska

16.  Kansas

18.  Washington State

18.  Oregon State

18.  Colorado State

21.  Kansas State

22.  Oklahoma State

22.  Hawaii

24.  Idaho


25.  Wyoming

26.  New Mexico

27.  Nevada

27.  Montana

29.  Montana State

29.  Utah State

29.  Fresno State

29.  North Dakota

33.  North Dakota State

34.  New Mexico State

35.  South Dakota state

35.  South Dakota

37.  Northern Colorado

37.  Northern Arizona

37.  Portland State

37.  UNLV

37.  Boise State

42.  Oklahoma

42.  San Jose State

42.  Air Force

42.  Eastern Washington

42.  Southern Utah

42.  Sacramento State

42.  Weber State

42.  Cal Poly

42. Idaho State

 

1.      UCLA

2.      Oklahoma

3.      Nebraska

4.      USC

5.      San Diego State

6.      Washington

7.      BYU

8.      Cal-Berkeley

9.      Oklahoma state

10.   Arizona State

11.   Arizona

12.   Oregon

13.   Stanford

14.   Colorado

15.   Kansas

16.   Kansas State

17.   Hawaii

18.   Air Force

19.   Utah

20.   Oregon State

21.   Colorado State

22.   Fresno State

23.   New Mexico

24.   UNLV

25.   Boise State

26.   Washington State

27.   San Jose State

28.   New Mexico State

29.   Tulsa

30.   Wyoming

31.   Nevada

32.   Utah state

33.   Montana

34.   Sacramento State

35.   South Dakota State

36.   North Dakota State

37.   Montana State

38.   Weber State

39.   Idaho


40.   Northern Arizona

41.   North Dakota

42.   Idaho State

43.   Cal Poly

44.   UC Davis

45.   South Dakota

46.   Eastern Washington

47.   Northern Colorado

48.   Southern Utah

49.   Portland State

50.   San Diego

Interesting takeaways. Stanford literally might lose an amount larger than Eastern Washington’s Endowment and not even notice. The whole Pac 12 is by far the best neighborhood in terms of Endowment. I know what a surprise (just like Boise States Endowment). There numbers are extremely high (except poor Oregon State) while having 4 land grant institutions.

Some more surprising statistics when looking at these numbers (other than Southern Utah not existing apparently) is Idaho would be Smack dab in the middle of Mountain west conference; which contains 5 of the 17 Land Grant institutions out west.

What 12 Schools are most similar compared to Idaho?

Wyoming, Montana, Montana State & South Dakota -3

New Mexico, Utah State, Colorado State, Hawaii, North Dakota, Cal Poly, Idaho State, North Dakota State-2

Breakdown by conference

0 Pac 12 schools

5 Mountain West Schools

6 Big Sky Schools

2 Other Western Schools.

 

Idaho fits best with Mountain West and Big Sky.

 

Fixing Idahos Future Schedule

The Big Sky Conference did fans and schools a huge favor last year by releasing the future conference schedules through 2023. Benefiting the schools, by now knowing exactly what dates they have open to schedule out of conference opponents.

For Idaho fans, this is a bit of a downer. You will notice there are not many out of conference games that catch the eye. Even less will be beneficial towards a playoff appearance. I will grade each current schedule, then provide my realistic fixes to each season.

2020 Schedule

Schedule-2020Since the 2020 season kickoff, is in only 7 months, the schedule is set in stone. week 1 Idaho opens the season against a division 2 side in Western Oregon. The week 2 Temple game is a return trip from the 2013 independent season when Idaho hosted the owls and went on to win the game 26-24. The Vandals wrap up in Week 3 with the Battle for the Palouse. This game is a replacement game for the canceled 4 game series made with San Jose State. Who pulled out because of Idaho’s move to the FCS.

Current Grade: C+

Idaho did the best with what they had on short notice. Getting Washington State to pay $550,000 to drive eight miles is an A+. However not getting out of a temple game from 2013 is a C-. Then the Western Oregon game is a D. The conference schedule paired with the Washington State game, the Vandals will leave the Palouse once in eight weeks. During the season Idaho only travels to Philadelphia, Davis California, Pullman Washington, Cheney Washington, Bozeman Montana, Pocatello Idaho. That’s likely only 2 flights. Far removed from the Sun Belt days.

How To Fix it:

Too little too late. But the division 2 game against Western Oregon is a drag to see. At least it only costs Idaho $80,000. Meaning the out of conference schedule will net Idaho $470,000. That helps the budget.

2021 Schedule

In 2021 Idaho opens at home vs Canadian side Simon Fraser. Back-to-back years with week 1 division 2 or lower team to start the season.Then pack their bags for week 2 body bag game against Big Ten program Indiana (will see them again). Closing out the non-conference schedule with another power five game in Corvallis against Oregon State.

Current Grade: C

Any division 2 or lower game from this year forward is to be met with a grade of an F. Idaho needs division 1 wins to qualify for the playoffs. In a conference as tough as the Big Sky. Indiana is an interesting power five game. It isn’t local, but it isn’t bad. Indiana isn’t exactly a world beater, this could be winnable power five program for Idaho. The Hoosers did go 9-0 against the FCS last decade. Indiana is paying Idaho 1.2 Million to go to Bloomington with a outside chance to win. That’s an A- grade for scheduling. To close out the out of conference schedule, Idaho gets to play the Beavers. Arguably, the worst Pac 12 program in the previous decade. A winnable, local power five game, that will pat the coffers with an additional $675,0000. This will get an A+.

Unlike 2020, the Big Sky did Idaho no favors in conference. Idaho will have a bye week in week 4. The Vandals will then have four weeks before they are back in the friendly confines of the Kibbie Dome. Followed by more road games. When week 9 rolls around it will only be the third home game of the year and only second vs division 1 competition.

The budget will be helped by netting 1.875 million before paying Simon Fraser $80,000.

How To Fix It:

Schedule-2021Nothing needs to be done with Oregon State & Indiana. The payouts and winablility of these games are perfect. Even if the Indiana game is an odd match-up. The real trick here is copying what the Vandals pulled off in 2019, with scheduling Eastern Washington out of conference. Due to the Big Sky having protected rivals every three years Idaho will not play Idaho State in the “Battle Of The Domes”. Tubs at The Club has been very vocal on this Issue that Idaho & Idaho State needs to become a rivalry game.

Putting this game week 1 would be a good move. Idaho can do better. The FCS has a weekend all to itself called “Week 0”. The highlight that weekend is the Guardian FCS Kickoff game. Instead of Austin Peay vs Central Arkansas (2020) or Samford v Youngstown State (2019). What if the game featured two In-state rivals? In 2020 the game is to be played in Pocatello & in 2022 it is to be played in Moscow. Creating a conundrum for a 2021 match-up.

Two solutions

First is the winner of the overall battle of the domes in 2020 gets to host the game and repeat this every three years when game is off the schedule. Split the revenue 50/50 after reimbursing travel to road team and operating cost of the host team.

The other options is a bit more controversial. Play it in Boise. Its 235 Miles from Pocatello & 295 Miles from Moscow. Boise is both schools largest alumni base. There is bound to be the “No way we are stepping on that blue field to give Boise State the satisfaction” agruement. I have previously mentioned this will be almost an insult to them if both Schools can sell out Bronco Stadium. Something they have seldom done recently. A nuetral stadium is on the way if the City of Boise can ever get out of their own way in building a beautiful new stadium. This is only going to be an issue every three years.

Get this game on ESPN for Week 0 and showcase The State, The Conference & The FCS level of football.

2022 Schedule

Kicking the Season off with a rivalry game in Pullman. For more money than they paid us in 2020. Then the Vandals return to Bloomington Indiana for the second time in as many years. This time collecting 1.3 Million Dollars. Then Idaho plays its first lower tier FCS program in the newly released schedules, Drake. In 2022 Idaho will play all Division 1 opponents for the first time since 2017.

It is a well spaced out schedule for home games, road games and a mid-season bye week.

Current Grade: B+

Schedule-20222022 currently is the year Idaho gets paid more, to do the same. A+

Anytime Idaho can get Washington State on the schedule every couple of years it is a positive. This is the type of Power five game Idaho should be scheduling. Ideally in a decade Idaho will play Washington State 3-4 times. The Likes of a Washington, Oregon, Oregon State, Colorado, Utah each once. Then a bigger game like Texas A&M, Penn State, LSU or Florida State once just to have the experience.

Indiana is paying Idaho $100,000 more to come play them again in 2022 then they did in 2021. Most would assume this game to be favorable in 2022. More so with a previous appearance in Bloomington just 12 months prior. Grade this game an A.

The Big Skys whacky scheduling means no Montana State this season. That earns a D. Not the Athletic Departments fault, but it is what it is.

How To Fix It:

Drake is what drags this schedule down to a B+. Idaho should be scheduling low tier FCS teams to help with playoff qualification. Problem with the Drake game, Idaho is paying Drake $250,000 to come play in the Kibbie Dome. Taking a large bite out of the Washington State & Indiana earnings. Idaho should try and schedule these types of games as home & homes. Keeping the profit made from bodybag games.

The other change. Find a way to make the games marketable. The fanbase will be as fired up for the Drake game as they were for Western New Mexico State in 2018. Joining the Big Sky-Missouri Valley Challenge would be fun for the fanbase. Might even help with some of the steadfast FBSers. What better school to participate against in Idahos first go at the challenge than the Bobby Petrino led Missouri State Bears? Idaho is in need of a home game to complete the schedule. Putting the first meeting in the Kibbie Dome. The place where Bobby Petrino spent three seasons as QB coach and Offensive Coordinator from 89-91. Before Paul Petrino came to coach WR,QB & RBs from 92-94. Later taking the role as Head Ball Coach in 2013. They have never coached against each other and this would put people in the seats & eyes on the TV.

If Missouri State is not open to the idea. Montana State has week 3 open.

2023 Schedule

Schedule-2023The first year where the Vandals have a true opening where they can pick anyone. As the schedule stands now, the Vandals have no opponents for week 1 or week 3.  Expect a team to be named shortly. Then the Vandals play in Reno Nevada against a former Big Sky and WAC foe in University of Nevada-Reno. Then in week 8 Idaho will face Dixie State in St.George Utah. Who will be a full fledge FCS member, counting as a division 1 game.

Current Grade: A-

Overall a great schedule. Play a former conference rival for the 30th time in the Nevada Wolfpack. In a very fun place for fans to travel to. A+.

You play what should be a lower tier local FCS squad in Dixie State in Moscow. The start of a 3 games series with the Trailblazers. The Big Sky helps out by giving equal spacing between home and away games. It all comes down to Idaho not messing it up by scheduling a bad opponent in week 3 causing a week 1 bye week.

How To Fix It:

Change nothing in the actual schedule except attempt to schedule Dixie State week 3 opening up a later season bye week. Then per my 2022 schedule suggestions return the favor on the home & home with Missouri State in week 1 (currently open)

Bobby Petrino left Western Kentucky after 1 year and the Atlanta Falcons after just 13 games in the middle of the season. The odds he is still coaching at Missouri State in three seasons are slim.

Even Paul Petrino is up in the air at the moment to be at Idaho in 2022. His contract is through 2023. However, is on the hot seat. The 2022 season is the first real strong possibile season he could be fired. If he doesn’t start winning. 2022 is when the amount he would be owed would be reasonable.

Leaving the chance that neither Petrino is at their current job for even the 2022 game. Let alone the 2023 game. Even without one or both of the Petrinos. Missouri State is the type of team Idaho needs to start scheduling if they want to return to being a top flight Big Sky team and perennial playoff contender.

2024, 2025 & Beyond

The Big Sky hasn’t released conference schedules for these years yet. The Vandals do know in 2024 they travel to Dixie State and Oregon. Then host Dixie State and then “Travel” To the Battle of the Palouse. Everything this far out is subject to change.

In Review

Understand the unique position Idaho is in. The Vandals schedule problems are caused by the 2013 independent season. Then compounded upon with move from FBS to FCS.

The suggestions made were realistic changes. Not fantasy changes impossible for Terry Gawlik (Idaho Athletic Director) to deliver. The current scheduling issues are not her decisions. These games were scheduled before she had taken office. The only two scheduling announcements while Gawlik has be the Athletic Director (2022 Drake 2023 Nevada & Dixie State Series). Both announcements were ideal additions to the schedule. The ultimate goal for 2023 is a balanced athletics budget. Allowing future scheduling to be more open, minimize travel, but maximize payouts. The Ideal realistic schedule 2024 and on is Pac 12 School, winnable Mountain West school & home and home with a lower tier FCS program.

Big Sky be damned, I’m still buying season tickets. Why you should too:

I’m counting the days until kickoff. I haven’t been the Moscow in nearly nine months, and that’s just too much time for me to have been away.

Vandal football is giving me the perfect excuse to end that hiatus.

I’ll be around my Vandal family. I’ll be able to shove Grub Truck and Sweaty Teddys into my mouth. I finally won’t have to drink my beers in pint-sized portions like an animal. I’m getting that shit 32 ounces at a time.

I’ll be there for the season opener against Sacramento State and the banner unveiling for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl following the most successful season in Idaho’s FBS history.

Yet, something feels off. We all know what that feeling is. The internal battle inside of us between excitement for this program and the disappointment and distress at the inevitable death of our FBS foray in 2018.

In fact, how good Idaho is projected to be in 2017 just makes this feel worse. This has to happen now? Right when Paul Petrino has not only built a good football team, but a great and sustainable program from the recruiting aspect to the system on the football field?

Augh.

It sucks. It sucks all around. And no matter what it’s going to affect how I feel about this season.

Still, I’m going to be there for every game I can be, with season tickets in my hand, cheering on my Vandals. I’ll do it because the players on the field had nothing to do with the decision and they still deserve our support.

Listen, you think you’re upset about the drop to the Big Sky? Nobody is more upset about this than the coaches and players.

None of these kids who signed on in Petrino’s first few seasons came to North Idaho to play for the FCS playoffs. Most of them came because Idaho offered their only opportunity at FBS football and an opportunity to build a program from the ground up.

Few of these players want to see what could be back-to-back bowl winning seasons amount to a scholarship-budget slashing and a drop in level of competition.

They had no say in the situation, though many current and former players publicly opposed moving to the Big Sky.

You not attending games because you’re mad accomplishes little. The players are as mad as you are. They’re still playing football for Idaho. You can go watch.

Look, if you want to withhold donations that’s cool. The administration should understand the financial impact of the decision they’ve made.  If we’re talking about thousands of dollars per year of your money you’re throwing at the university, that’s your choice.

Withholding your money from the ticket office will barely make an impact.

Idaho projected 2016’s football ticket sales would be less than half of the nearly $1 Million the school received in 2011. This means football ticket sales barely account for five percent of the total athletic department revenue. You and a thousand of your buddies not buying tickets may make an annoying impact, but it won’t act as a deterrent. It’s something Idaho was certainly prepared to absorb.

I get it. It’s going to be a battle to care as much when it’s Southern Utah and UC Davis coming to the Kibbie Dome. I get the disappointment at the administration not even at least exploring independence.

Don’t take your disappointment out on these players.

It meant a lot to them wen we made that disgusting Boise stadium ours in December, battling temperatures so cold our beers became slushy after three sips. Still we showed up 25,000 strong.

It’ll mean a lot to them to see the Kibbie Dome have atmosphere in their final season as an FBS program.

And if you don’t feel like it? Here’s what you’re missing:

  • Matt Linehan becoming the all-time leading passer in the history of Idaho Vandal football with only ~ 2,100 yards remaining. He’ll pass Doug Nussmeier, Ken Hobart, Nathan Enderle and John Friesz. He’ll likely end top five all-time in touchdown passes and simply replicating each of the last two seasons could make him the most accurate Vandal quarterback of all time.
  • A defensive front seven with NFL prospects in Aikeem Coleman and Kaden Elliss. Tony Lashley, who was a part of Paul Petrino’s very first signing class at Idaho, is also getting a lot of preseason hype.
  • The best marching band in all the damn land.
  • A good fucking football team. Some of us were with this program during the worst years bridging Robb Akey’s last few teams to Petrino building this thing up. I’m not going to take this type of talent for granted.

Finally, you’re missing out on Moscow. Coming back to the University, the town and the community that gave you so much in life. There’s never a bad excuse to make your way to the Palouse for $4 tubs of Rainier and good people.

I’ll see you in Moscow.