Idaho Vandals Shortlist for Head Coach

The time has come for Idaho to start a coaching search for the first time since October 21, 2012. The Athletic Director at the time, Rob Spear, dismissed coach Robb Akey after a 70-28 loss in Ruston, LA, to former WAC conference-mate Lousiana Tech. Washington State QB legend Jason Gesser was named the interim for the remaining four games. After a 43-day search, Paul Petrino was hired on December 3, 2012. At the time of his firing, Petrino was making $446,214.40 a year, tops of the FCS. Idaho is not likely to pay the next guy the same figure, but you can bet your bottom dollar this is a Top 10 job in the FCS and will pay like it.

Attached is my shortlist in order of who I want as coach. I have done days of research on my own for this topic, consulted with Tubs at the Club contributors, folks around the Big Sky, AllVandals.com, and former players to create MY list of 15 realistic candidates for our vacancy.

Have To Call: Make Them Say No

Jeff Choate | Co-Defensive Coordinated – Texas

To outsiders, this one makes no sense. Choate just left Montana State, a top 5 FCS job, to be a co-Defensive Coordinator at Texas. But bear with us: on our show Colter Nuanez of Skyline Sports sort of hinted at it. From St. Maries, Idaho, about 66 miles north of Moscow. He grew up a Vandal fan and loved “The Kamiah Kid” Ken Hobart. It is rumored a major reason he left Montana State was due to Big Sky canceling fall football in 2020 and it gave him too much time to think and not coach.

Choate mentioned in his exit presser he just “likes building things.” He could be bored being back to an assistant. Also, Texas is not having a fantastic season. Either way, Idaho would have to be okay with him having an exit strategy. He wants a job at Washington, Washington State, or Boise State. This will eat some people up. But it does get him in a region where at least WSU, Washington, and BSU become more likely. If Choate can replicate what he did at Montana State at Idaho, he will get one of those jobs.

Choate is also the most likely to say “no thank you” of this lot. But you have to call and make him say no. Like Colter said on our show, childhood rooting interests are “sometimes hard to shake.”

Associate Press Michael Thomas

Beau Baldwin | Head Coach – Cal Poly

Idaho has to give Beau Baldwin a call, if not just to please the donors or a few local podcasters. Baldwin is the head coach at Cal Poly, where he’s rumored to make around $250,000–a number Idaho should be able to beat. After taking over for Paul Wulff at Eastern Washington in 2008, Baldwin won a national title in his third season in 2010. He left EWU after nine seasons in 2017 with an 85-32 record and six playoff appearances.

Baldwin left EWU to become Cal’s offensive coordinator. Needless to say, he struggled. Baldwin returned to the Big Sky in 2020 to revamp Cal Poly, where he’s also struggled (1 conference win in 2 seasons*). Which was expected when working a triple-option team to a spread offense. Although Geoff Collins at Georgia Tech sure is struggling a lot less, with five ACC wins in his first two seasons.

Cal Athletics

Doug Nussmeier | QB Coach – Dallas Cowboys

Doug Nussmeier is a former Vandal legend and 4th round NFL draft pick with more experience than Idaho would even know what to do with. Nussmeier’s stops include Michigan State, Fresno State (OC), Washington (OC), Alabama (OC), Michigan (OC), Florida (OC), and the Dallas Cowboys (QB coach), though never as head coach.

He is from the Northwest but is a southern boy at his core. With his son committed to LSU, I think he stays down south. Unless we get a little McCaffery ball going here and Doug becomes HC and 4 star QB Garret Nussmeier transfers from LSU for Daddy Ball 2.0. Garret Nussmeier has only played in 3 games as a true freshman, meaning he could start as a true freshman next year. With McCoy and Jordan on Idaho’s roster, that does not seem necessary, but hey, the last four years are proof you can never have too many quarterbacks.

Dec 9, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier signals from the sidelines during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Linehan | Offensive Analyst – Missouri

Stop me when this one sounds familiar. Vandal QB legend from the northwest. Has coached at UNLV, Idaho(OC), Washington (OC), Louisville (OC), Minnesota Vikings (OC), Miami Dolphins(OC), St. Louis Rams (HC), Detroit Lions (OC), Dallas Cowboys(OC), LSU (OC) and Missouri.

Really the only difference between Scott and Nussmeier is Scott was a NFL head coach and an interim HC in the NFL. You would also imagine he brings in Matt Linehan to coach. Another version of daddy ball most vandals I imagine would be excited about.

My reservations on this hire are until 2020 he hadn’t been in the college game since 2001, and since 2020 well his offenses have not looked fantastic.

Hard to deny the excitement that he would spark back into the program. Plus having Matt back on the sideline maybe my favorite part of this move.

Getty Images Leon Halip

Nick Rolovich | Fired Head Coach – Washington State

Covid will be a thing of the past, or so I choose to believe. If guys like Art Briles, Urban Meyer, and Hugh Freeze, got new jobs, then you better believe someone is going to give Nick Rolovich an opportunity. The policy leading to his forced termination across the border is currently not a policy in Idaho. Meaning he is legally able to be hired, you come to your own moral conclusions.

The Hawaii Rainbow Warrior would be a good fit. Most Vandal fans want an offensive mind and his Run & Gun offensive is that. He has spent the entirety of his career in the west. He is 33-33 as a head coach at traditionally hard places to win (WSU 5-6, UH 28-27). This may make you question this decision a bit, but he took over Hawaii from Norm Chow who went 10-36 in 4 years. Nick has 4 .500 or better seasons in his 6 years of coaching.

He is confirmed to have been to at least 2 Vandal games while on the Palouse. He is a weirdo in the best way, where he may find an opportunity to coach in the Kibbie Dome as cool. Plus man CJ Jordan would be so fun to watch in this system.

Krem2 Brenna Greene

Troy Taylor | Head Coach – Sacramento State

It is hard to not notice what Troy has accomplished with the Hornets. He will have led Sac State to two playoff appearances and two Big Sky titles in his first two seasons. The team had only had 2 seasons with more than 2 wins in the previous 5, and had never been to the FCS playoffs. Troy fixed that for the tune of back-to-back Big Sky Titles (in a season in which they participated).

He is a great example of Vandal fans needing to change their mentality on “Can’t afford” or “Who would come here.” He Currently is making $240,000 a year. He was the Offensive Coordinator at Utah making $525,000 a year, a 46% paycut. While I think we could and should be able to beat his salary. He signed a 7-year contract and with current performance metrics, he is making closer to $340,000 a year. The contract we would have to offer and the buyout for the remaining 5 years maybe too much of a burden after the very un-team-friendly deal we just go over. But should make people realize hiring a power 5 coordinator is a very real possibility. So kick that notion out of your head.

Cal State Sacramento University Athletics

Top 15 Canidates: Realistic Candiates

15. Eti Ena | AHC/Defensive Coordinator – EWU

Eastern Washington is known for their high-powered offense, but the reason they are constantly a top-flight side and appeared in the 2018 National Title game, is an overshadowed defense. Now the Stats may not back that claim but when your offense scores so much that you are always on the field. Ena has been Defensive Coordinator since 2019 after coaching the defensive line the 3 seasons previous. He has coached a number of All-Big Sky linemen.

Eastern Washington is his Alma Mater, but he also coached the defensive line with Robb Akey from 2009-2012. Meaning he coached the likes of NFL Veteran Benson Mayowa and others in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl. I know some Vandals are wary of Vandal retreads, especially from staffs that were canned. I think you will find our defensive line was not a problem while Ena was here.

Ena has also spent time at Cal Poly as a defensive line coach. Making his resume read 4 years as a Vandal, 7 years in the Big Sky, and 1 year under Beau Baldwin in 2016, for all the Baldwin fanboys out there. I cannot find the Eastern Washington assistant coach’s salaries or salary pool but one would imagine the head job at Idaho would be a hefty pay raise. He is still young only graduating from EWU in 2005. Could he bring a few more Vandal rings to compliment the 09 humanitarian bowl ring on his finger?

14. Alfred Pupunu | Former TE Coach | Colorado

Alfred Pupunu is not a name I’ve seen thrown around much. But brings much of what Vandal fans are looking for. Had an 8-year career in the NFL including a 1994 Super Bowl appearance. He would bring that NFL presence and really help in recruiting as he would command a room over some other Big Sky coaches. Also seems like the kind of guy that would keep a gem like Luther Ellis on staff. He is a Big Sky guy at his core too. Pupunus’ Alma Mater is Weber State. One of his coaches back in 1992 when he was playing?… Former Idaho headman Robb Akey. It should come as no surprise he was hired by Robb in 2010 as TEs Coach. For what it’s worth he was held in high enough regard he was retained on the staff when Paul Petrino got the job. He continued to coach at Idaho until after the 2016 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win.

Meaning he coached All-Decade team TEs Trent “Buck” Cowan & Deon Watson, Vandal greats like Daniel Hardy and Taylor Elmo.

He wasn’t just given the job out of charity by Akey. He worked under Kyle Wittingham at Utah for 2 years and in 2008 worked on Ed Lambs’ original staff at Southern Utah where the Thunderbirds got turned around and won a conference championship twice and made playoffs twice as well.

After Idaho, he went to coach TEs at his Alma mater for two seasons where they won two Big Sky Titles before moving on to Colorado under new coach Mel Tucker. He did not make the move to Michigan State with Mel and was not retained by the Current Colorado coach so is currently unemployed.

13. Conor Riley | OL Coach – Kansas State

The first name on the list with zero ties to Idaho.

Riley has 8 years of FCS coaching experience. In 2011-2012 he coached Sacramento states offensive line. Where the offensive started to see improvements to 6th and 7th in the conferences from bottom years. Sac States offensive line improvements were noticed, his next stop would be TE and FB coach for North Dakota State.

He would coach North Dakota States TE’s for only one season before moving back to the offensive line. Where between the years of 2014 and 2016 he would coach 6 All-Americans. Believe it or not, NDSU had only had 1 All-American on the line before Riley.

He would receive a promotion to OL/ run game coordinator in 2017. Where he would coach 3 more All-American offensive lineman and RBs. He ended up putting a few dudes in the NFL. Including a former walk-on and winning 4 National Titles.

He would follow coach Klieman to Kansas State. In his first year, 4 of his Offensive Lineman received All-Big 12 honors. In 2020 with completely new starters K-State ranked 22nd in the nation for sacks allowed.

Riley probably deserves to be ranked higher on this list but he had very little coaching outside of the Midwest. Riley is from Omaha, played at Omaha, Riley coached for 18 years, 16 years of which are in Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and North Dakota. Giving me some reservations on his ability to recruit the Intermountain region and Pacific Northwest states. But Craig Bohl and Brent Vigen have proven it is possible.

12. Matthew Powledge | Safties/Special Teams – Baylor

This is what I would call “Gambling on the next Jeff Choate or Bobby Hauck.” Both of these Big Sky coaches came from a power 5 program. Coaching position groups and were in charge of special teams. Powledge could be a young version of these two.

Powledges’ Alma Mater is Sam Houston State, graduating in 2009. Before getting a master’s degree in sports management from Southeastern Louisiana in 2011. He started his coaching career at Kentucky, Southeastern Louisiana and Northwestern State. Before returning to Sam Houston State as special teams coordinator.

He got picked up by the University of Louisiana Monroe in 2016 to coach TEs and Special teams. He got to experience the Kibbie Dome in 2017 for Vandal win, 31-23. During his time at ULM, he went 0-2 vs Idaho. He then moved on to the University of Louisiana to coach for 2 seasons. Coaching 6 All-Sun Belt players. Before arriving at his current role at Baylor.

This would be an outside the box hire. Get a young up-and-comer with some FCS, G5, and P5 experience.

11. Byron Hout | Defensive Line – Idaho State

I know, I know. He went to Boise State and is most famous for a right hook to the jaw where he may or may not have lost a tooth (sure looks like it on tv), and yes it maybe one of my favorite .gifs. I think there is something there. He comes from the Jeff Choate coaching tree (odd to say he has a tree).

But hear me out. He is from Coeur d’Alene, so would know how to recruit Idaho, Eastern Washington and, Western Montana. Something we haven’t done well since the early 90s… Weird we were winning then. He played at Boise State from 2008 to 2011. He got to see how to build and run a successful program in Idaho. Under arguably the 2nd most successful coach to ever coach in the state (behind Dennis Erickson of course, who he has probably met in Coeur d’Alene). He then spent a year as a GA under Mike Leach at Washington State. Getting to see the foundation to a successful rebuild on the Palouse. He went back to Boise for 1 year under Chris Peterson, and 2 years with Brian Harsin.

Leading to his signing as a full-time coach in 2016 under Jeff Choate. Where he coached 6 All-Conference Defensive Lineman at Montana State. In July he moved to Idaho State and received high praise from Montana State staff even after his departure. He lacks head coach experience and his Idaho State defense is not looking very good. However, this could be a diamond in the rough type of hire.

Photo via SkylineSportsMT.com

10. Matt Mumme | Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach – Nevada

A disciple of his father Hal Mumme and Mike Leach. Matt has some FCS and head coaching experience to pair with an impressive Offensive coordinator resume.

After his playing days at Kentucky he took the QB coach position while receiving his masters at FCS side Southeastern Louisiana. At that time SELA was restarting their program and in its first season, they won 5 games. The success continued in year 2 as they won 7 games. Eventually leading to the Mummes moving on to New Mexico State University. Where success would be a string of 4 win seasons. But for a team that was used to winning one or none, it was a step in the right direction. Matt was co-offensive coordinator for the Aggies during these years. He would end up going 1-3 vs the Mighty Vandals.

He would then follow his dad again to McMurray a DIII level program that was once again used to none or one wins a season. In his two seasons there they were able to win 10 games. In 2011 Matt stepped out on his own for the first time. While Hal stayed at McMurray, Matt moved on to be the offensive coordinator of FCS side Davison. Two years later getting his first Head Coach position at DIII side LaGrande. He spent 4 years at the perennially bad private school before starting his current role as OC at Nevada.

When he arrived on Jay Norvells staff. Nevada had struggled under every coach not named Chris Ault. They now have been to 4 straight bowl games and threaten to win the conference every year. QB Carson Strong could be a day 1 draft pick and the Wolfpack are a consistent top 25 offense under Mumme.

One can hope he has learned some lesson from his former head coaching gig and from his father and could be an amazing hire. Nevada once stole Chris Tormey from us, let’s return the favor.

9. Willy Korn | Co-Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach – Coastal Carolina

Another young coach to look at. Willy Korn is an up-and-coming coach.

He played for Dabo Swinney at Clemson before starting his coaching career in 2013 at FCS side Charleston Southern. He coached WRs and was recruiting coordinator for the Buccaneers. During his 4 years, they made it to the FCS playoffs twice. For the program’s only two appearances ever in the FCS playoffs. Korn would then leave with Coach Jamey Chadwell to Coastal Carolina where the success has continued, including winning the Sun Belt last season and even making a run at the College Football Playoff.

He has coached freshman of the year QB Grayson McCall and 5 All-Americans.

Korn is solely in charge of the passing game and Coastal Carolina has been one of the most proficient passing attacks in the nation since Korns promotion to offensive coordinator.

The things working against Korn is he has never really left the Carolinas, has no head coaching experience, and with Coastals success he may have higher profile opportunities come to this off-season himself or the ability to follow Chadwell if he gets a P5 job and/or take over Coastal.

8. Andy Thompson | Defensive Coordinator/ LB Coach – Sacramento State

This one will get some of you excited, our first Montana Man on the list. Thompson is a grad of the school in Missoula. He played from 1999-2004. Meaning he won the 2001 national championship and went 3-1 vs the Might Vandals as a player. He played for 3 different coaches (Dennehay, Glenn & Hauck).

After a one-year stint coaching at Eastern Oregon University, he took a job at Northern Arizona and was there for 13 seasons before joining Troy Taylor’s staff at Sac State in 2019. As we covered in the Troy Taylor segment it’s hard not to notice what Sac State has accomplished. From what our friend Colter Nuanez said on our show Troy Taylor runs the team as a business. He is hands-off on the defense. He lets Thompson run the defense.

I am an oddball who believes if you look at all the GREAT coaches, they are defensive-minded. I think it is easier to find a good Offensive Coordinator and pair them with a defensive mind in charge. Think Nick Saban, Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher, Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, and of course Paul “Bear” Bryant. In fact of all the living active coaches with super bowl wins 9 of the possible 12 super bowl rings are held by defensive coaches. 6 of the possible 10 national championship rings belong to defensive coaches.

Defensive coaches in my opinion are a safer bet. Even when you look at the Big Sky since 2000: Bobby Hauck, Jay Hill, Jeff Choate, Chris Ball, Ed Lamb all the defensive guys, none of them fired. But then you look at offensive coaches and you have the Baldwins and Taylor for sure but you also have Paul Petrino, Bobb Stitt, Robin Pflugrad, Ed McCaffery, Rob Phenecie and Tim Walsh.

Thompson would get me pretty excited.

7. Joel Thomas | RB Coach – New Orleans Saints

The protocol son returns. You would be hard-pressed to find a more beloved Vandal than Mr. Thomas. This is one I was not that hot on, but is growing on me.

Since providing Vandals with one of the greatest moments in Vandal History. He has a quiet, but efficient coaching career. Including a return to Idaho as Offensive Coordinator and RBs coach from 2004 to 2005 under Nick Holt. Where in case you forgot about him he turned an under-recruited nobody freshman named Jayson Bird into an All-Conference caliber RB.

He has had multiple stops as a RBs coach including College and the NFL ranks. He did spend one season as Associate Head Coach for the Washington Huskies. He spent some time with Bret Bielema at Arkansas, Bret Spent time at Wisconsin, with?… You guessed it University of Idaho Athletics Director Terry Gawlik.

At only 46, an alumni and a guy who seems to have never really gotten his coaching shot. He could be a long-term kind of guy. Guys like Elisha Cummings, Nick Romano, and Aundre Carter would THRIVE with this hire. Bring him home!

Photo Courtsey New Orleans Saints

6. Luther Elliss | DL Coach – Idaho

We have basically witnessed all of Luthers’ coaching experience while at Idaho. He has never had a leadership role by title. Anyone who has been to a game can tell you, he is the energy on the sidelines. This is a huge gamble though. It is a lot like Northern Colorado’s hire of Ed McCaffery. He has some superstar kids, would shoot life into the program, very good NFL career, but only some high school coaching experience.

The other thing to think about is, we have heard he is not interested in being a head coach. If this is true then we better find a way to at least keep him on staff.

This hire would mean Athletic Director Terry Gawliks’ two men’s sports hires would be from previously fired staff. A cringey stat that was provided by Brian Marceau.

5. Inoke Breckterfield | DL Coach – Vanderbilt

Who? Well if you don’t know Breckterfield, better listen on up. I have a hunch he will be involved. The Oregon State Beaver has no ties to Idaho other than one game back in 06 when he was a volunteer coach for the Beavers vs Idaho under Dennis Erickson.

He has coached the defensive line at Oregon State, Weber State, Montana, UCLA, Pittsburg, currently Vanderbilt, but most importantly… yup, Wisconsin. He spent 6 seasons at Wisconsin, 5 of which while Terry Gawlik was in Madison.

I think getting Inoke and having a fresh look at the program, relationship with our AD and I think could be able to keep a guy like Luther on the staff. These two minds together and we would keep our elite front 7.

Even if Luther doesn’t stay, Inoke I think could be huge in sparking this defense to the next level.

I know he isn’t the most exciting hire, but I think he is the type of guy Gawlik will look at and could be a real gem.

4. Ed Lamb | Assistant Head Coach/ST – BYU

Ed Lamb is the man responsible for the build of Southern Utah from Great West cellar dweller, to conference champions in 3 seasons. Then saw them through the transition to the Big Sky making the playoffs twice and winning the conference once. Then leaving Demario Warren (current coach) the keys to a team that won the championship again after he left. Then his players cycled out and Southern Utah is 5-24 without them. For perspective, with Ed Lamb they went 24-24 (one bad 3 win season) and with Warren 16-18 (one 1 win season with only his seniors left).

Ed Lamb is off the Jim Harbough tree. Served as assistant for Harbaugh at San Diego and used his philosophies when taking over Southern Utah. Though it was Idaho’s own Tom Cable that gave him his first college shot in 2002. Drawing him out of BYU grad assistant with some high school ranks to be DC for the Idaho Vandals in Cables final years. I know this is a bit of a red flag for some, but again this is more of Cables shortfall than it is on Lamb. Cable brought in a 28-year-old high school coach to be a Defensive Coordinator. That is just a gamble on personnel that ultimately led to Cables canning.

Lamb only went on to help San Diego become a powerhouse in Pioneer League. Then the aforementioned stint at Southern Utah, now at BYU as Assistant Head coach has been to 4 bowl games in 5 years and a 6th this season (result pending), not to mention a part of a run at a College Football Playoff appearance in 2020.

His specialty is special teams, which if you haven’t caught on by this point is a common trait amongst successful coaches. His leaving of Southern Utah at its peak rings echoes of Jeff Choate. According to a Desert News Article, he left because he wanted a new challenge. He has spent 6 seasons in Provo and has experienced success. But has yet to move from Assistant Head Coach and Special Team Coordinator. It may just be time for a new challenge and Idaho is that. With a much higher ceiling. Maybe his punter Ryan Rehkow can talk him into it.

3. Derrick Odum | AHC/ Defensive Coordinator – San Jose State

I would be ecstatic if Odum was given the nod. The man is still young but has 21 years of coaching experience. He played his college ball at the University of Utah. Started his coaching career there as well back in 1996.

While he is currently a Defensive Coordinator for one of the greatest rebuilds in the past decade, he cut his coaching chops in the secondary. And where has Idaho been notably weak the past 20 or so years? Let’s fix that.

Like many folks on this list he also has coached at Montana. It was his first position coach job. He would spend the 98 & 99 seasons in Missoula. Never making it to Moscow as the Little Brown Stein was in Missoula that year, and Idaho won it for the last time. It’s not all bad for him against Idaho though as his next job was at Utah State for 3 seasons. In the Aggie/Vandal showdown in 2000 went Odums’ way in Logan, UT.

Odum goes a bit under the radar during this rebuild as the defensive turnaround in San Jose is impressive.

(was) 3. Ian Shoemaker | Offensive Coordinator – Eastern Washington

Well I had a lot to say about this one. Then under mysterious circumstances, he resigned. I decided not to move him up or down. But if you read this far. Spoiler alert this article was written in early November and I was just waiting to post it until the Petrino news was final.

Shoemaker appeared to a really good hire leading one of the best offenses in FCS history, and then he just Gary Anderson’d and resigned midseason.

I’m sure he had his reasons. Just hope he and his family are okay and wishing them the best. Probably out of the running now, pending more information.

2. Brian Lindgren | Offensive Coordinator – Oregon State

I have thrown around our______ (insert coach here). Brian is stacking up to be our Bobby Hauck, Aaron Best, Troy Taylor Type. Alumni-Check and Power 5 Coordinator-Check. Brian would need to probably be okay with a pay cut. His current salary is $500,000. For perspective, Paul Petrino was making $446,214.40. We all expect the next man to make less than Paul did just on basic FBS v FCS finances (bet you thought were done with that dead horse). According to Bestplaces.net adjusted to cost of living $500,000 in Corvallis to Moscow is equivalent to making $423,623. Meaning if a big booster really wants Lingren, Pauls’ current salary in essence is a raise. But like we touched on coaches like Troy Taylor at Sacramento State took almost a 50% pay cut to be a head coach.

The question will be does Lindgren want to come back? There are a multitude of reasons why he wouldn’t. First and foremost taking a job at your Alma Mater is a risky decision. An up and coming coach young coach I know from Idaho said he would probably never want to coach at Idaho. Look what happened to Tom Cable! Everyone loved Cable, then he coaches at Idaho and he is blamed for the beginning of the end of our FBS run. It is not just an Idaho thing either look at Paul Wulff across the border at Washington State. Coaching at your Alma Mater can be highly rewarding but can also really tamper your relationship with the institution. Another reason is to not take the Idaho job is sadly Lingren is young and will have many opportunities in his future, and FCS jobs are no longer a stepping stone. Beau Baldwin couldn’t get more than a sniff at Pac-12 Coordinator (which Lingren currently is) Craig Bohl built NDSU and won multiple National Title in a row and the best he could get was head coach at Wyoming. Jay Hill made a traditionally irrelevant program in Weber State relevant on a national level. Even he can’t get a look from a terrible Utah State job. Let’s not even get started on Jeff Choate getting a Co-coordinator position, not even full coordinator. Unless you are at or towards the end of your career in terms of wanting a big job (Taylor, Hauck etc) it doesn’t make sense to leave the power 5 coordinator position to grind it out in FCS.

1. Rod Chance | DB Coach – Oregon

The Myth, the man the legend. The guy I want to helm this rebuild to FCS powerhouse and FBS expansion candidate.

An alumnus of the FCS and 4-year letter winner in his playing days at Rhode Island. He started coaching the DBs at Rhode Island before moving on to Vanderbilt, before becoming the defensive coordinator at Southern Utah 2 years when they won the Big Sky. He then moved to Minnesota and Oregon now.

I know a lot of people want a coordinator or someone with head coaching experience. I think his previous stint as a coordinator, his youth, and his energy is enough. He can sure up our secondary and continue our defensive prowess. Look, like it or not the Big Sky is rapidly becoming a defensive conference.

Who knows it never hurts to get an Oregon guy as sometimes Nike support follows. Look no further than UNLV that hired an Oregon guy and then got brand new jerseys. Not saying you hire someone for this, but won’t complain if it were to happen.

In my opinion, Rod takes a top 10 job in the FCS and leaves with it as a top 4 job in the FCS.

#ChanceOnChance

Honorable Mentions: Kent Baer, Stanely Franks, Kirbie Moore

*** As always I”m not an journalist so, take your gramatical error comments, & put them in a beg some-Where. Hope you enjoyed the content regarless if you maid it too dis disclaimer -CH 

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Big Damm Preview: Game 7 – Little Brown Stein

In solidarity with Tubs sources that believe the coaching staff has lost the locker room (if that wasn’t obvious enough after losing by 50 to a conference opponent), I, Producer Dammer, have quit on the Big Damm Preview until a change is made with the direction of the football program. See you all next season (I hope.)

I take the time to do these silly articles and sillier drawings out of the passion and love I have for the University of Idaho and everything it has given to me. The rumors Tubs hears about the internal state of the football program sadden and sicken me. I am not a donor with enough sway to influence the athletic department, so this is my own little way of making my voice heard.

Please continue to donate to this great university in support of the student-athletes. I will be donating to the I.D.A.H.O. campaign next week after my billing/shipping address changes Monday, thank you to all on Twitter who rightly talked me down from my rage. Shout-out to Taylor Cash, who discovered you can donate “In Honor” of whatever you may like. Find him on the donor wall.

Hopefully, there will soon come a day where all Vandals can be proud of the entire football program: not just proud of the young men that are or have been a part of it, but the staff, their behavior, and the on-field results as well.

Go Vandals, today, tomorrow, forever.

[editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are those of Mr. Hammer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Tubs at the Club.]

Big Damm Preview: Game 6 – Idaho vs. #2 Eastern Washington

It’s the rubber match! For the third time in 2021, the Idaho Vandals take on the Eastern Washington Eagles.

Last Game:
On Homecoming weekend, Idaho beat Portland State 42-35, narrowly hanging on after taking a 35-7 lead near the end of the second quarter.

Undefeated Eastern Washington led from start to finish in a 63-17 drubbing of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

Last Matchup(s):
February 27th, 2021 – Idaho came back from a 14-0 deficit to win 28-21 in the spring season opener. Eagle kicker Seth Harrison famously “missed” a field goal thanks to the dangerous combination of the Kibbie Dome scoreboard and an official struggling with mask protocols.

April 10th, 2021 – Eastern Washington got revenge on the red, winning 38-31 on a windy day where Zach Borisch got his first start at quarterback and rushed for over 200 yards.

Quarterbacks:
Another week, another question mark at quarterback for Idaho! Will we see Zach Borisch get another start against EWU, or will Mike Beaudry be healthy enough to play? If Beaudry is out, who will be Borisch’s backup?

Against Portland State, Idaho threw the ball only 16 times, led by Mike Beaudry’s 10 for 15 with 162 yards and a TD. Beaudry also chipped in 26 net yards on the ground. The Vandals finally #LetBorischThrow, who threw one pass, a 46 yard TD to Dalton Cash. Borisch rushed 16 times for 83 yards and a TD. On the final Vandal possession, Beaudry converted a 4th down pass to essentially seal the game for Idaho, but was injured and replaced by Borisch. Rather than kneel the ball and claim victory, Idaho chose to attempt to score a touchdown. Borisch fumbled and Portland State ended up with a failed Hail Mary attempt to tie the game in the closing seconds. Paul Petrino said after the game that they hadn’t practiced the victory formation with Borisch, so they opted to run the ball. If the Vandals are in a victory formation situation again this week, we’ll see if they have decided to practice the kneel.

Eric Barriere is having yet another Walter Payton Award caliber season, currently completing over 68% of his passes (168 for 245) for 2467 yards, 21 TDs, and 5 INTs. Barriere leads the Big Sky Conference in every passing category, and leads the country in completion percentage, yards, and TDs. His average of 411.2 yards per game leads the Big Sky by more than 100 yards.

Idaho’s Key Players/Statistics:
Terez Traynor once again led the receiving core, with five receptions for 114 yards and a TD; but it was the Vandal running game that stole the show last week, averaging 6.1 yards per carry on their way to 236 net yards. Borisch’s output led the team, while Aundre Carter continued his resurgence with 68 yards and two TDs off of just four carries. Roshaun Johnson added nine carries for 36 yards and a TD. Borisch, Carter, Johnson, and Elisha Cummings all have triple digit rushing output on the season and each average over five yards a carry.

Tre Walker had a typical Tre Walker game, leading the team with 18 total tackles and a forced fumble. Walker is currently fourth in the Big Sky Conference in tackles per game. With Fa’Avae Fa’Avae out last week, Hogan Hatten took advantage of the added playing time, with ten tackles and a tackle for loss. Marcus Harris forced a fumble, and Charles Akanno added a sack for the second week in a row.

Eastern Washington’s Key Players/Statistics:
While Eric Barriere might be the focal point of the Eagle offense, running back Dennis Merritt’s 92.7 rushing yards per game is good for third in the Big Sky Conference. Merritt has an incredible 11 rushing TDs in just six games, and averages 5.3 yards per carry. Merritt’s 13 total TDs is first in the entire FCS. EWU boasts a deep receiving core led by perennial All-Big Sky talent Talolo Limu-Jones, who leads the Big Sky Conference with 115.2 yards per game. Limu-Jones was injured in Eastern Washington’s win against Montana and missed last week’s game against Northern Colorado, but is listed as a starter on the two-deep against Idaho. With or without Limu-Jones, the Eagles still trot out three receivers that average over 50 yards per game in Andrew Boston, Freddie Roberson, and Efton Chism III. Boston and Roberson start opposite Limu-Jones, with Chism III serving as TLJ’s backup. Seventh-year senior (and perennial All-Big Sky lineman) Tristen Taylor protects Barriere’s blind side.

2021 Preseason All-Big Sky Conference defensive end Mitchell Johnson is the “name” on the EWU defense, but a pair of players with Vandal connections power the group. Linebacker (and former Vandal from 2016-2018) Ty Graham leads EWU’s defense with 59 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks and an INT. Safety Calin Criner, son of former Vandal defensive coordinator Mark Criner, heads the secondary with 35 tackles, while also adding an INT and a forced fumble. Cornerback Tre Weed was named second team All-Big Sky Conference in the spring season.

Coeur d’Alene native Seth Harrison is still kicking for the Eagles, but after going a perfect 12-for-12 in 2019, he has gone just 12-for-18 since the infamous “miss” in the Kibbie Dome.

Key to the Game:
Last week was a tale of two halves for Idaho, with an outstanding first half overshadowed by a near-collapse in the second half. The Vandals need to look much more like the first half team that ran the ball at will, scored a ton, and constantly pressured Davis Alexander.

Game Predictions:
Producer Dallas: In 2018, Idaho went down 31-0 at halftime in Cheney on the way to a 38-14 loss. In 2021’s spring season, Idaho unveiled the read option with Zach Borisch and lost 38-31 after a fourth quarter comeback by the Eagles. Idaho won’t catch EWU off guard with a brand new offense this time. The Eagles are a more physical team this year than the last few seasons, and their receivers are a nightmare for a weaker Idaho secondary. EWU grabs a big lead early and does not let off the gas, winning 56-21. [editor’s note: This prediction was made with the expectation that Beaudry plays, Idaho uses their two QB system, and Beaudry has to try to throw the Vandals back into the game. If Beaudry is out, Idaho still loses, but keeps it considerably closer by virtue of Borisch primarily running the read option and chewing more clock.]
Boatman: EWU 38-28
Brian: EWU 42-28
Chris: EWU 30-26

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.

Signing day 2017: Vandals will bring quarterback controversy into the Big Sky in 2018

With every small step Paul Petrino has taken since our Potato Bowl triumph, I think ever so slightly there might be a chance he actually stays to see this thing out to the Big Sky when Idaho enters the conference in 2018.

Logically, it doesn’t make sense. A man who’s spent nearly 20 years at the FBS level, with a cup of coffee in the NFL, won’t see that body of work go to waste to become a head coach in the Big Sky. It’s a level where you have to win three national championships just to get a second interview at Wyoming.

Beau Baldwin, architect of two wins against Pac-12 schools, a national championship and a handful of Final Four appearances at Eastern Washington, was rejected by Oregon State and Nevada. He settled on being the offensive coordinator at Cal this season.

This realistically leaves me wondering if Paul Petrino has signed his last class at the University of Idaho.

If indeed Paulie is bidding us farewell soon then he has left us the greatest gift of all: Stability at quarterback.

We have one more season of Matt Linehan. It should be a beautiful season. He could be the best quarterback in the Sun Belt Conference, he could be getting ogled over by NFL scouts and he should leave the University of Idaho with a winning record over his last three seasons (13-11 over the last two). We could also win a bowl game. Again. That’d be dope.

We’re going to miss him when he’s gone. We missed Nathan Enderle when he left in 2010 after two seasons of 14-12 ball. We went four seasons with quarterback instability after he left, winning five games in those four seasons. This quarterback transition has the potential to be especially chaotic considering the conference change, scholarship slashing and the expectation to immediately compete to win Big Sky Conference championships.

This is probably why Paul Petrino felt compelled to sign two quarterbacks plus a state champion from Washington who might be able to take some snaps, too.

Los Angeles’ Dylan Lemle and Lewiston’s Colton Richardson signed letters of intent at Idaho. Both have the potential of starting playoff games at the Kibbie Dome and leading Big Sky title pushes.

Zach Borisch of Kamiakan High School, the 3A state champion in Washington, also signed on. He will probably redshirt and explore playing time at other positions.

These guys will join current sophomores Gunnar Amos and Mason Petrino. Amos will see snaps at safety and Mason Petrino will explore playing time at receiver, along with still working with the quarterbacks.

First, I’ll discuss Richardson.

I’ll make it no secret I think he is Idaho’s quarterback of the future. This may also be biased. I’ve covered Colton and I’ve seen what he can do.

His strength is his arm, and his current best Petrino-offense comparison is Jake Luton. Colton Richardson can make any throw in Paul Petrino’s playbook. He’s got touch to go with his arm strength and played in a high school offense that allowed him show off his arm and learn a pass-heavy offense.

He’ll get shit for being fat. He’s currently listed at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds. He’s been in worse shape than that during his high school career.

He doesn’t play fat. He rarely sits stone-footed in the pocket. He shuffles his feet, he knows how to roll out to extend plays and can take off and run with it if he needs to. This reminds of Jake Luton’s ability to run the read-option on the goal line. But I think Richardson is more light on his feet than Luton was.

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His weaknesses is that his high school offense wasn’t incredibly complex and the level of competition in North Idaho is fairly bad. He didn’t necessarily back up his results when it came to the state playoffs. The ability to redshirt and get reps during Get Better Sunday practices will be where Richardson earns his first points in the 2018 competition.

It’s honestly incredible Richardson wasn’t more highly recruited. I’m told he was offered a roster spot on Washington State as a walk-on. This is akin to Chad Chalich, who tore up the 5A Inland Empire League and only garnered enough interest to get a walk-on spot at Boise State.

Coeur d’Alene’s Colson Yankoff, who will graduate in 2018, has four Pac-12 offers. He and Richardson could link up in 2020 if Yankoff chooses Washington State.

Speaking of Chalich – Petrino’s first starting quarterback at Idaho and who ended up transferring to Montana when Matt Linehan inevitably took the job – that brings me to Lemle.

Chalich is probably Lemle’s best Petrino-offense comparison.

Lemle, who spurned offers from Utah, Boston College and maybe Tennessee, likely chose Idaho because the Vandals were the only school to guarantee him an opportunity at quarterback the entire way.

It’s also why Gunnar Amos and Kareem Coles, now at Duquesne, also chose the Vandals during the recruiting process.

Lemle ran a shotgun-based passing offense with option elements. It reminded me of what Idaho’s offense looked like with Chalich, minus the part where Chalich wasn’t allowed to slide out of bounds thusly leading to his murder every other play.

Idaho lists him at 6-2, 190 pounds. For comparison, Matt Linehan came in at 6-3, 215 pounds during his recruiting process.

I was impressed with the breadth of passing plays in Lemle’s highlight video, from play-action throws down the field, quick receiver screens or slant routes over the middle. Accuracy seemed like it was hit or miss (since I only got the highlights), deep passes he hit were because of wide open receivers, throws over the middle seemed pushed and the throwing motion took a while to wind up.

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What could get him on the field quickly is his ability to run the option attack and his ability to gain yards with his feet, if that’s the direction the offense heads.

The more I look at Lemle’s tape the more I think he obviously has what it takes to be a stellar quarterback in the Big Sky. Which, that’s the important qualifier here.

We have to judge players a little differently now than if we were staying FBS. Portland State beat Washington State and made the FCS Playoffs with Alex Kuresa – hardly a passer, but good with his feet.

Bryan Schor won the national championship with James Madison throwing for 3,000 yards on 73 percent completion, while also rushing for 720 yards and 10 touchdowns. And, well, you all already know about that Carson Wentz kid from North Dakota State. He’s as pro style as it gets.

You can win a plethora of ways in the Big Sky and Petrino has given us multiple routes to finding Linehan’s heir apparent.

Of course, we have to keep an eye on factors such as …. who is the head coach in 2018? Will any FBS transfer quarterbacks become available to come in and play right away? Who else will we sign next year? What even is the existential meaning of life?

But as of right now, the competition starts as soon as both these guys get on campus.