Former Idaho coach Akey: 'I didn't expect it in the middle of the season'

By Brian Murphy
bmurphy@idahostatesman.com

Robb Akey knew his Idaho coaching staff needed a pick-me-up after a 70-28 loss to Louisiana Tech on Saturday. So he called a staff meeting for Sunday afternoon to suggest some changes, find some bright spots and go over recruiting plans heading into the final four games of the season.

Before he got to meet with his staff, however, Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear fired Akey.

"I didn't expect it in the middle of the season. I knew we needed to win more games. We needed to win more — and that was an ugly game on top of it," Akey told the Idaho Statesman on Tuesday evening. "I expected to be able to finish the season."

Akey went 20-50 in five-plus seasons with the Vandals. Idaho is 1-7 this season and 3-17 in the last two years.

Akey said Idaho saved $105,000 by firing him before the end of the season. According to his contract, Akey was to be paid $200,000 in media payments for the 2012 football season.

He said his message to the team has always been to finish.

"Don't quit. Finish what you've started. It's hard knowing I'm not going to be able to," Akey said, the pain evident in his voice. "I love those kids and the coaching staff."

Akey said he and Spear had a "professional" relationship. "We communicated what needed to be communicated and that was about it." Spear earlier described their relationship as "fine."

Akey said the past few days have been hard.

"It's been miserable. I've never been fired before," he said. "That's been hard."

Calls, texts and visits from players and coaches have made it better, he said.

"I was happy to see they weren't throwing a party I was leaving," Akey said. "I told each one of them that they've made a hard situation a heck of a lot better. It meant the world to see and hear from those kids."

Akey and his wife Molly have two sons at Moscow High. Jack is a sophomore starting wide receiver for the playoff-bound Moscow Bears. He and Daniel will play basketball this fall. Akey suggested that the family might stick around Moscow for a few years — he has two more years left on his contract with Idaho that pays him $165,796.80 per year — and allow the boys to finish high school with dad in the stands.

"They looked and me and said, 'What? Dad, you're not going to be any fun to be around,' " Akey said. "I'll see what I might be able to get into. By noon yesterday, I was going crazy."

Akey, known for his enthusiastic personality and outgoing style, joked that maybe he could get a job at ESPN.

But he couldn't hide his sadness at not being able to finish out the season.

"I love those kids," he said. "That's my biggest disappointment."

I wish Akey and Family well....

Idaho needs to adjust and find its real direction in football....

I thought they were gonna be doctors and lawyers and such

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Celebrating five years and one screen ID >|<

Akey Had Class Spear Did Not

I met Akey when he first played Boise State in Boise. He was a nice guy and I respected him. He sold me that he was a good guy when he started cleaning house at u of i. I told him so and that when he took that bold action he reminded me of Lou Holtz, he was visibly moved. He was what the vandals needed, he wanted to be there, he was passionate and his passion for vandal football energized the vandal base. He produced the only winning season in 13 years and took them to their second bowl game as an FBS school. I might add he won that bowl game in Bronco fashion like we did the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. He was asked with this years schedule to push water uphill and had to endure attacking diatribes by rob spear. Idaho made a mistake in firing Akey, spear is the one would should be looking for a job.
Who needs real wins when you have rob spears and vandal pride.
Keep throwing the V rob baby keep throwing that V till it boomerangs on you.

OBB

I agree with your perspective. Akey took the high road and when he cleaned house he knew it was going to cost him scholarships...but, he still cleaned house despite the consequences. I respected coach Akey because he was always positive and he was passionate about Moscow and the UofI.

The downfall in my opinion is the restless nature of the UI donors and fanbase. They have been demanding immediate change and want the change this very moment. Rob Spear was reacting to the emotions of the fanbase.

I believe this was a mistake. I've watched the resurgance of Oregon football since 1978. In 1977 UO hired Rich Brooks and the university stood behind him until 1994 when he left to become the coach of the St Louis Rams. During his tenure Brooks endured many years of hardship and disappointment. Then, in the late 80's there seemed to be a shift in the program and it steadily developed into the program it is today.

I personnally believe UI should've weathered the storm and remained committed to coach Akey. He was committed to Idaho and I think by staying the course all wouldn've been better in time.

As a Vandal Alum, and a fan

As a Vandal Alum, and a fan of Akey's, I'm disappointed they fired him mid season, and didn't even give him the courtesy to see it through. On here I've been saying for awhile now that I love Akey to death, but that It was time for the Vandals make a change, and to search for a new head coach after the last 3 years of utter devastation. I ALWAYS expected Spears to be canned first though, since Akey really is an Icon in Moscow for his die hard school spirit and larger than life personality. He's a great guy. But Like it's been said on here, you can only coach so well in an uphill battle.

You brought tears to Akey's eye?

Your story is hard to believe.

Yet another classless move

Yet another classless move by the vandals.

Agree

I dont really see their point in firing him before end of the season. I dont hate Idaho by any means, but really do they think they'll have another coach in place to start recruiting right away? I liked the man and he should have been given more respect than this.
I guess someone may need a raise so their saving 105,000.........

i as-sume

the reason is they got tired of getting pasted 70-28 and to let everyone still there that they expect to win. that may be an unrealistic expectation. gesser said as much yesterday at the presser.

Too bad and

Good luck to you Coach Akey. I think you were good for Idaho.

NOBODY expects the Vandal Inquisition!

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Celebrating five years and one screen ID >|<

all good things

gotta come to an end. the gig was good for akey, not so much for idaho. after the beatings they have taken this season, i don't see how anyone can say they shouldn't have canned him. he is set financially. he'll get back into coaching as an assistant or chord.

As a Bronco Fan...

... I'm gonna miss this guy. (Please don't read any sarcasm.) He was a fantastic interview and a dynamic cheerleader. Truth is, he would've had to have been the world's best recruiter if he would've ever had a chance at creating a new culture of winning up there in Moscow.

Akey is A-OK in my book

I have no love loss for the Vandals when they play the Broncos but when they are not playing BSU why wouldn't I want them to do well. I love Idaho first and foremost. Akey was good for a program that has very little going for it. He never said a disparaging word, was always upbeat in the face of doom as it related to winning and when he did win the bowl game by one point that I attended in Bronco Stadium I loved his post game interview in a win too. Great guy. I hope the Broncos hire him if they have an open spot for a coach. I bet he would recruit like heck if he were on the Bronco staff! What a positive guy. Can you imagine how good he would present something that had power and pride on his side? Go Akey!

No matter what,

he's still better than the coaches at Penn State.

So the AD schedules money games

that he knows the Vandals can't win, and then they fire the coach because he doesn't win enough games. But they save money by firing him mid-season. It's all about $$$. Spear and Nellis have the combined common sense and intelligence of a hockey puck. Best of luck, coach Akey. Hope the day comes that you get the last laugh....Sunny...

Bingo

Right on the spot Sunny.

Spear = Shishkabob

Mr. Spear in nothing more than a bad underwear-stain on the sports program at Idaho. Time to stick a fork in him as well. Put in Tim Mooney as the A.D. He is professional and gets the job done.

4Sport

I'm not sure that Spear is the problem. RS has parameters from which he has to manuever. From my perspective is the rabid Idaho fanbase. They have RS hanging from the gallows while demanding Akey be fired. RS is in a no-win situation. I think the fanbase needs to modify their expectations with the amount of money they are willing to put on the table to have a viable FBS program. RS is constrained by what he's given to work with and there seems to be a game of cat and mouse going on as to how much money RS has to work with. Let's just says it is all nuts and the UI fanbase made Akey a scapegoat.

I must say

reading this article and following the events makes me like Akey even more.

P2

I think Akey was the best thing that ever happened to UI. On some levels I think the UI fanbase should be fired.

I'm not a Vandal fan...BUT

I like Akey. I think he is a great coach and a good man. I think Idaho is going to look long and hard to be able to get a coach like him.

Are you guys kidding me the guy was 20 - 50...

Honestly I don't really follow Idaho athletics. I have a few Vandal buddies so athletics and football is brought up occassionally so I think I have an unbiased opinion when it comes to the Vandals. With that said, Coach Akey was 20 and 50 according to this article. My first question is why did they wait so long in showing him the door? I know he won a bowl game in 2009 but look at what he has done since the bowl game? I read that he was 2 - 10 last year not sure what he was the year before, but I know they did not go to a bowl game so probably something along the lines of 4 - 8 or 5 - 7. Not sure what type of coach he is, however whenever he is interviewed he comes across more as a cheerleader than a coach in my opinion. As far as this season and firing him now. It is not uncommon to fire a coach mid-season particularly if the coach is on a short leash anyway. I know LSU and North Carolina both beat them bad scoring in the high 60's and then La Tech put 70 on them. I watched the North Carolina game or part of it with a Vandal buddy and honestly I think NC could have scored 100. So a team has to cut the cord eventually and I would say the sooner the better. That way the University can look in earnest for a new coach and the other coaches can finish up the season and start connecting with their coaching community to try and land a new job before next season. Akey may be a nice guy, but we all know it doesn't matter if you are nice or not all that matters is wins...

There is an old saying....'If everyone likes you, it is because.

they are beating you'....

Liberalism is a mental disorder with no known cure....

Akey received less criticism than Joe Southwick

I always enjoy the dumping on the Vandals by Bronco fans. It takes focus off of Joe Southwick and the O Coordinator Prince.

The direction BSU is headed - East - should make for an interesting amount of internet fodder for you ppl who consider yourself intellectually able - instead of the forum hacks that you are.

Las Vegas here you come.

Dave,

Are you intellectually able?