State Board gives Idaho approval to become football independent, join Big Sky

By Brian Murphy

The Idaho State Board of Education voted Friday to give the University of Idaho authority to become a Football Bowl Subdivision independent and negotiate and accept an invitation to the Big Sky in Olympic sports. The board's motion also allows Idaho to join the Big Sky in football.

The board voted 5-1 with the only no vote coming from State Board President Ken Edmunds. Edmunds wanted Idaho to have to return to the board if it chooses to place its football program in the Big Sky.

Idaho President Duane Nellis and Athletic Director Rob Spear — who joined the meeting via telephone — argued that they needed flexibility in case they were not able to schedule FBS games.

Spear said he was "quite confident we are able to do this (in regards to scheduling)."

On a teleconference later in the day, Spear said the Vandals have five games scheduled for 2013, are close to signing three more game contracts, are in negotiations with two other schools and are planning to play New Mexico State twice in 2013 — for a total of 12 games.

Five of those games must be at home and four of the home games must be against FBS teams.

Idaho has four known football games for 2013 — at Mississippi, at Wyoming, at Washington, vs. Northern Illinois. Spear said the fifth game was simply pending his signature and a review by the school's legal department.

"We believe playing as an independent in football is the best solution for our university, our student-athletes and our program," Nellis told the board.

After the meeting, Spear tweeted: "Thank you Idaho SBOE for supporting our motion to explore football independence and allowing us flexibility in our discussions with the BS (Big Sky)."

Here is my full story on the Vandals' seeking the authority from Friday morning's paper.

Highlights from Idaho's teleconference:

• Nellis repeated much of what he told the State Board in his opening comments. "Playing NCAA football as an independent makes the most sense for us, for our student-athletes and for our program," he said.

• Nellis again stressed that Idaho believes there will be more upheaval in college conferences.

• Nellis stressed that if the school joins the Big Sky it will have the same access to NCAA Championships that the school has as a member of the WAC.

• Spear said the Bowl Championship Series will pay Idaho $100,000 per year as an FBS independent, the same deal that Army and Navy get.

• Spear said Idaho will likely have to play three football "money games" to make independence work.

• Spear said he'd like to make a final decision "in the next three weeks."

• Nellis said Idaho is still having "dialogue" with the WAC. "There are still possibilities there," he said. But the Big Sky, he said, has ended any talk of an alliance with the WAC.

• Spear said that after investing 16 years at the FBS level, Idaho owed it to itself to stick around for two more years when the postseason format is due to change dramatically.

• Spear said Idaho's boosters are split right now, but he is confident they will rally around whatever decision the university makes.

• Spear said if Idaho joins the Big Sky, which does not sponsor men's golf and women's swimming and diving, the school would be able to find affiliate memberships for those programs.

• Spear said Idaho has had "very preliminary conversations with ESPN" and has had conversations with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Spear said he thinks Idaho can sign backup agreements with several bowls.

• Spear said Idaho is working under a "self-imposed two-year deadline" on football independence. Spear said it is easier for Idaho to jump to an FBS conference from independence then it would be if the Vandals were to move to the Big Sky in football.

• Spear said the plan is to fully fund 85 football scholarships as long as Idaho remains at the FBS level.

• Nellis said there are a "lot of positives" about a potential association with the Big Sky. While praising the WAC, Nellis also said, "The best future for us may be in the Big Sky."

I don't know how Idaho

I don't know how Idaho schedules games in October and November. BYU, NMSU, Army, then who?

I don't know Idaho

My nephew plays football at Eastern Oregon in LaGrande; I bet his coach would put them on the schedule; shoot, I bet they would even go to Moscow to play 'em! If they would play them, I bet Carroll College might, too! I would bet either of those schools wouldn't even ask for a home and home deal...they might go 2 away and 1 home!! Go for it Rod!!!!

They need FBS schools to come to the dome

not division II, III, NAIA, or FCS. Because of the ways penalties are handles for non-compliance with scheduling rules in FBS, I think Idaho could probably create a schedule for 2013 that complies and then one that doesn't in 2014. They would only receive a notice of non-compliance after 2014 and would just need to make sure they have a schedule that complies in 2015. If they get into a FBS (or whatever it will be called by then) conference, no problem. If not, then it is FCS and the Big Sky. Again no problem.

I think that is why Spears talks about a two year window. They have two years to get into a FBS conference or it is back to the Big Sky. It's that simple. Seeing how they skirted the attendance requirements in the 1990s by counting games against WSU at Martin stadium as home games, I don't think this line of thinking from the vandals is out of the question. They will follow the letter of the rules, even if it is just a charade. They are just killing time to convince those that don't want to let go of the dream that FBS isn't sustainable. When they go back to FCS it will be because they were left with no other choice. At least that is what they will say.

Good Luck with Scheduling

When October and November come around and conference playing starts who will be left to play, plus who is going to want to play in the dome? BYU already proved that my scheduling them twice at their place, Instead of a home and home series. Best of luck but after 2 years you will find scheduling is a nightmare and Back to the Big Sky you will go.

Short term Reality

As everyone has said the entire scheduling thing is not going to work for IDAHO. I guess they are just trying to tread water to see if something opens up. My guess NO one is going to want to invite IDAHO with their football facilities to a FBS conference. They will end up in the BIG SKY and that's O.K. It makes sense to build rivalries with the Montana schools, E.Washington and the Dakota Schools...keep it regional.

Enjoy the Ride...there is no return ticket.

New League

Idaho; Cof I; ISU; Weber; Easter Oregon and a couple others....Inland Empire League.....Montana Tech....couple more Utah/Oregon/Washington schools? sure would keep the travel expense down!! Get a lot of local interest and local players!!!

New League

Call it the illusory superiority league. Made up of Kevin Federline, Paris Hilton, Sliced Bread, and most BSU Fans. If ego were an energy source, this league would power the world!

I would agree with the scheme too. Incredibly fun!


You fry wants with that?

1-800-Back to the Big Sky

2 years independence = 2 years of scheduling nightmares.
16,000 capacity dome = playing the likes of New Mexico St & Northern Illinois at home or some other subpar football team from the MAC or MWC Conference. Vandies you will soon find out, that Independence is nighmare and there will be no conference invitation 2 years from now. If there was where would you go? MWC? they have already no to conference expansion? I seriously doubt 2 years from now they minds will have of changed. Idaho brings nothing to them. Small Stadium, Small Fan Base and finally the most importantly a very small media market. Enjoy the ride because Big Sky is were you belong!!!

You belong in

remedial English.


The English is bad but the thought process is on the money.

They belong in detention. No breakfasts.


You fry wants with that?

The job of recruiting good quality players to Idaho just became

a nightmare. Oh wait, it was already a nightmare. OK, it will be darn near impossible. Quite possible Idaho will lose players to 2-year colleges that will allow the players to improve and then jump to a quality team for their final two years of college.

ha ha ha

I-D-A-H-O, back to the Big Sky you will go!!!

new mexico st

twice in 2013. that is either funny or sad depending on your point of view. vndl, funny or sad?

Sad and funny which equals

Sad and funny which equals pathetic.

Twice? Regular season games?

I thought I read that wrong. How often does that happen when its not for a conference championship? Awkward and strange.

It's pretty funny

as if that matchup being played once isn't enough bad football. But it's also sad. They could have avoided this train wreck by just embracing the Big Sky. Would have been a great leadership decision. Now they just look pathetic.

It's pretty funny

as if that matchup being played once isn't enough bad football. But it's also sad. They could have avoided this train wreck by just embracing the Big Sky. Would have been a great leadership decision. Now they just look pathetic.

It's pretty funny

as if that matchup being played once isn't enough bad football. But it's also sad. They could have avoided this train wreck by just embracing the Big Sky. Would have been a great leadership decision. Now they just look pathetic.


You manage to leave the rivalry out of every story? Idaho is doing what is best for them at this time. Just as BSU does what is best for them during any given situation. Give it a rest.
P.S. I am referring to the commenters this time and not Murphy.

No, this is just

your Big Brother trying to be helpful when your leaders are working against your own best interests.

Unlike what happened in 1973...

I appreciate the SBOE giving Idaho the opportunity to work this out...unlike what happened in 40 years ago.,4261900&dq=idaho+athletic+directory+history&hl=en

I don't see

how complaining about what happened 40 years ago is necessarily going to help anything. Besides, even if the board did approve a move, who's to say that the Pacific Coast Athletic Association would have even accepted them?

And so sounds the death

And so sounds the death knell of vandal football. Who do they get to actually travel to their pathetic 16,000 seat stadium??? Maybe New Mexico State and some 1AA programs.

Oh yea, you also have to fly

Oh yea, you also have to fly into Spokane and then bus 85 miles to the campus.

bang yer own gong, king of catfish


You fry wants with that?

It's not how big you are, it's how you use it.

RiverCity sounds a bit eager about the "death knell of Vandal football;" wish projection, perhaps, or maybe just not-so-quiet desperation. But his sneer about the "pathetic stadium" is untoward and unseemly.

The ASUI-Kibbie Dome has its virtues. The facility, which was mostly paid for by UI student fees, is a very nice place in which to watch football. The almost 17,000 seats (and increasing) are dry and shirt-sleeve comfortable when the elements in the Palouse are disagreeable, especially in later Octobers and Novembers. It was and is quite suitable for 1-AA/FCS football teams. I've seen Boise State tie there, win there, and lose there.

Bronco Stadium is also quite nice, and in crisp fall weather or when snows are on the foothills, the view is glorious. Late season games are often chill, but that is much easier to ward off than wet. I've seen Idaho win there and lose there (I don't remember any ties).
But what is its seating capacity? Perhaps 40% of some of the old guard football factory super-stadiums? Does it matter? Does it serve the Bronco community well? Does its lack of size compared to the Big Boys diminish the quality of the product inside? I don't think so.

It's not how big you are, it's how you use it.

Idaho is better off indy than in the current WAC or big sky

I'm also glad that the state board of idiocracy didn't screw Idaho over again. And someone tell the dumb, fat, little donkey (Milford Terrell) to STFU and go back to huffing his plumbers puddy.

Oh but it was a good rebuttal for about two seconds...

Behave, katzchen.


You fry wants with that?