Did Rob Spear make the right decision to let go of Robb Akey during the season or should he have waited until the season’s end? We want your opinion. Follow the link below to complete our survey and we will release the results next week.
Idaho football interim coach Jason Gesser and Athletic Director Rob Spear discuss the replacement of former coach Robb Akey, expectations for the remainder of the 2012 season and the Vandals’ coaching outlook in the future.
Idaho football coach Robb Akey has been terminated effective immediately and Offensive Coordinator Jason Gesser will take over as head coach on an interim basis, the athletic department announced Sunday.
“The President (Duane Nellis) and I believe it is important to make this move now so we can immediately begin the process of hiring a new coach for the 2013 season,” Athletic Director Rob Spear said. “We appreciate Coach Akey’s enthusiasm and dedication to the University of Idaho but this is the right move at this time.”
The termination comes on the heels of Akey’s 70th game as coach of the Vandals, a 70-28 loss at La. Tech. Akey is 20-50 in his five-and-a-half seasons with Idaho and 1-7 this season.
Spear said a search for Akey’s replacement will begin immediately.
News conference audio —
Akey signed a contract extension in June 2010 following the Vandals’ Humanitarian Bowl victory. The extension was set to extend through 2014. Per terms of the agreement, if terminated, Akey would receive his base annual salary of $165,796.80 per year “until the terms of this agreement ends or until (Akey) obtains employment, which occurs first.”
In Akey’s third season with the Vandals, he led the team to a 8-5 record which included a Humanitarian Bowl victory, Idaho’s second ever bowl victory.
Notable players to play under Akey include San Francisco 49ers left guard Mike Iupati, Houston Texans safety Shiloh Keo and former Chicago Bears quarterback Nathan Enderle.
Idaho starting quarterback Dominique Blackman along with other Vandals took to Twitter following Akey’s termination to express their feelings.
— #itsallforKEN#⃣3⃣ (@vandalsQB3) October 21, 2012
Akey was the glue that held us together. I can say as a team we played for him. Not even for ourselves.We love Akey we need Akey #akeyarmy
— Taylor J Elmo (@TjMO81) October 21, 2012
Wishing nothing but the best for Coach Akey. Great coach/mentor who truly cared for his players. Still a lot of coaching left in him I hope.
— Nathan Enderle (@nenderle) October 21, 2012
Wish Coach Robb Akey the best. Idaho won bowl game in 09, Vandals became our “official” team. Been a rough stretch for a good guy. #Nolte
— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) October 21, 2012
Gesser, who has been on the Idaho staff for two seasons, spent time as a quarterback in the NFL and Canadian Football League after playing his college football at Washington State. Before coming to Idaho, Gesser coached the Eastside Catholic High School Crusaders from Sammamish, Wash., for two seasons.
The following is Idaho’s football schedule for the 2013 season, per an e-mail sent from the athletic department. The final game will be against an unannounced BCS opponent.
In a conference call, athletic director Rob Spear has also announced that Idaho will join the Big Sky Conference in all other sports for the 2014-2015 season.
Vandal Football 2013
Date Opponent Conference Location Series First played
Aug. 31 North Texas Sun Belt Denton, Texas UNT leads 4-5 1996
Sept. 7 Wyoming Mountain West Laramie, Wyo. Idaho leads 4-2 1921
Sept. 14 Northern Illinois Mid-American Moscow, Idaho Tied 3-3 1969
Sept. 21 Washington State Pac-12 Pullman, Wash. WSU leads 69-17-3 1894
Sept. 28 Temple Big East Moscow, Idaho First meeting -
Oct. 5 Fresno State Mountain West Moscow, Idaho Fresno State leads 10-4 1946
Oct. 12 Arkansas State Sun Belt Jonesboro, Ark. Tied 4-4 1975
Oct. 19 Bye
Oct. 26 Mississippi SEC Oxford, Miss First meeting -
Nov. 2 New Mexico State Independent Moscow, Idaho Idaho leads 13-5 1971
Nov. 9 Old Dominion Colonial Moscow, Idaho First meeting -
Nov. 16 Bye
Nov. 23 BCS opponent TBA -
Nov. 30 New Mexico State Independent Las Cruces, N.M. Idaho leads 13-5 1971
Athletic director Rob Spear will hold a 4:30 PM PT conference call today and will likely announce the remaining games for Idaho’s 2013 Independent schedule. In addition to the four games that have been revealed in recent months, Spear, according to Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman, will announce seven more games during the conference call.
As has been rumored, Idaho will remain in the Western Athletic Conference for Olympic sports in 2013, before transitioning to the Big Sky in 2014-2015. Spear confirmed this information with the Idaho Statesman on Friday.
The Vandals’ current 2013 football slate includes games at Wyoming (Sept. 7), vs. Northern Illinois (Sept. 14), at Washington State (Sept. 21) and at Mississippi (Oct. 26).
Contracts for these additional seven games have been signed. The Vandals will host Temple, Fresno State, New Mexico State and Old Dominion. Idaho will visit New Mexico State, Arkansas State and North Texas.
The home-and-home with New Mexico State is something the schools have been working toward since the spring.
The Idaho football program is being backed in to a cliff, and one more step back will push it all over the edge. Idaho sits at 1-6 and one more loss means Idaho will go bowl-less for a third consecutive season. The first game with backs against the wall happens to come at 5-1 Louisiana Tech, the team that lost to No. 18 Texas A&M by two points last weekend in Shreveport, La.
Though it’s not as if Idaho hasn’t had to travel long distances to face tough competition this season. This is Idaho’s fifth trip of the season to Texas or further east.
The challenge? Stopping La. Tech’s offense. Check that, the impossibility is stopping La. Tech’s offense. The Bulldogs have the number one offense in the country at 53.8 points-per-game. Their lowest scoring output was in a 44-38 win at Illinois. On top of that, La. Tech has only turned the ball over four times all season, three of them coming at Illinois.
There is a glimmer of hope, and that comes when Idaho will be on offense. La. Tech has a bottom-five defense in the country at No. 117. This is the week where Idaho can, and will have to, get its offense back on track. The running game got back on track last week at Texas State, though this will need to be the week where Idaho needs to operates its methodical offense on all-cylinders.
The most effective way to play defense against La. Tech is for Idaho’s offense to stay on the field, as cliche as it sounds. Methodical drives have been an issue for the Vandals. Both of Idaho’s touchdowns against New Mexico State were set up off of turnovers, while Idaho’s one touchdown at Texas State was set up with big plays. Idaho has struggled when its been forced to drive the length of the field and consistently convert third downs (10-28 the last two weeks).
And well, if nothing else, Idaho has little to lose this weekend.
— Here’s Theo Lawson’s preview in today’s issue of The Argonaut, in which he talks with cornerback Aaron Grymes and wide receiver Mike Scott about the power that is the La. Tech offense and the soft, fluffy bunny that is their defense
— Also in today’s issue of The Argonaut, I take a look at the program that La. Tech has built in Ruston and why they will continue to grow to bigger and better things — especially under the leadership of coach Sonny Dikes.
— Finally make sure to check back later for a full report of Idaho AD Rob Spear’s news conference regarding the 2013 independent schedule that is expected to be announced at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Here’s our video scouting report for this weekend’s match-up.
During the Vandal radio network post-game show of Idaho’s loss at Texas State, Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said Idaho currently has 11 games lined up so far the 2013 season.
Spear said in the interview with Tom Morris he had 12 games lined up as recently as last Friday Oct. 12, but that one school had to pull out. Spear could come out the with the schedule as soon as the next week or two when he gets the 12th game, and likely wouldn’t be announced until the scheduling contracts are actually signed.
That schedule could include a home-and-home with Arkansas State, as reported by Scout.com’s AStateNation, citing Arkansas State’s athletic director. Spear said a contract for that game has not been signed, according to the Idaho Statesman. If the AStateNation report is true, Idaho would play at Arkansas State in 2013 and at the Kibbie Dome in 2014.
Currently, the Vandals have four confirmed scheduled games for both 2013 and 2014, but have only one home game for those seasons so far. Idaho needs five home games each of those seasons to abide by NCAA rules for being an FBS football program.
Along with the home game scheduled against North Illinois in 2013, Idaho is likely to play New Mexico State and an FCS school at the Kibbie Dome, in addition to making a return trip to New Mexico State in the same year.
Idaho is allowed to schedule an FCS school to count towards its required five home games. If needed, Idaho would also be able to schedule a game at Pullman’s Martin Stadium or Spokane’s Joe Albi Stadium and have that be considered one of its five home games.
We’ll have more as it comes available.
Idaho 2013 schedule:
Aug. 31 – at Ole Miss
Sep. 07 – at Wyoming
Sep. 14 – v Northern Illinois
Sep. 21 at Washington State
Not confirmed: at Arkansas State, v New Mexico State, at New Mexico State
Idaho 2014 schedule:
Aug. 30 – at Florida
Sep. 13 – v Western Michigan
Sep. 20 – at Ohio
TBA – at Northern Illinois
Not confirmed: v Arkansas State, v New Mexico State, at New Mexico State
There wasn’t a ton addressed this Monday at the news conference, following a 38-7 loss at Texas State which lacked any real storyline from the Vandal perspective. Idaho appeared to get out of the game without any injuries of note, as well. Since this was a shorter news conference than most the format for this post will change a little bit, and we’ll just jump right in to the comments from Akey.
On the game itself, it was missed opportunities and the inability to string together consistency in all three phases in the game is what Idaho coach Robb Akey lamented about Saturday’s blowout loss at Texas State. Idaho had gone in to the half down 14-7, scoring the last touchdown of the half. Texas State then scored 24 unanswered in the second half.
“It was a game of opportunity we had plenty of,” he said. “It was a one score game for a long, long period of time. That tells me we had opportunities in all three phases of the game to match the score and put ourselves up. That’s what we didn’t get done.”
Idaho takes to the road this week to San Marcos, Texas, home of newly minted FBS program Texas State. The Bobcats will enter the Sun Belt next year, though for now the focus is on its debut and only season in the WAC. The program has been disappointing as a whole, losing three of its last four (the one win a close one over FCS Sam Houston State).
The Bobcats came out of the gate strong ravaging the Houston Cougars in Houston, though Houston has proved not to be the team it was a year ago under Kevin Sumlin. A close game against Nevada, only to turn around and get blown out against New Mexico, leave Texas State somewhat of an anomaly.
One thing is for sure, the match-up Saturday will be a measuring stick for both programs. Idaho coach Robb Akey is serious about Idaho’s “new” WAC season. As far as he is concerned Idaho is 1-0, undefeated towards his goal of winning the final WAC football championship.
Idaho was able to take advantage of one struggling program last week with a win over New Mexico State, albeit ugly. If Idaho wants its first road win of the season the ugly mistakes are going to have to be cleaned up. Idaho needs to learn how to string together consistency throughout a game and learn how to take hold of momentum.
Idaho pulling out a victory against New Mexico State was never in doubt by the third quarter, but failing to score a touchdown in the second half allowed the Aggies to pull within one possession with under two minutes left to go in the game. That kind of lack of killer instinct will doom Idaho in the future, as we’ve already seen in the loss to Wyoming.
It wasn’t quite ideal, it wasn’t perfect, and it surely wasn’t pretty, but dangit, it was a win.
That’s about the attitude Idaho coach Robb Akey had Monday when addressing the media about Idaho’s 26-18 victory over New Mexico State Saturday at the Kibbie Dome.
“There’s so much more that we can do well. We’re going to finish things better…You’re going to continue to have the ability to grow and build,” Akey said.
New Mexico State is a pretty bad team, and they played like it. Now six games through the season the Aggies are the only team in the WAC without a victory over an FBS school, providing both Texas-San Antonio and Idaho with WAC-opener victories.
Idaho also took advantage of playing the struggling Aggies to push the ball down the field in the passing game with varying success. Idaho quarterback Dominique Blackman said after the game the plan was to open the playbook up because the team felt the North Carolina game exposed Idaho’s over-use of the short passing game.
Welcome back to the hundreds, or thousands, of University of Idaho alumni making the trek back to the Palouse for the weekend. The weekend festivities will be plenty, though the one that we all specifically have our eyes on is of course the football game on Saturday.
Though, it may be safe to say that the football program saw better days while some of those alumni were in Moscow.
The Idaho football team that will greet the Homecoming crowd sit at an embarrassing 0-5. Getting blown out of the water in two money games, losing at home to an FCS school and relinquishing a fourth quarter lead to Wyoming to lose in overtime accentuate how the season has gone. Oh, yeah, there is that whole conference-less thing Idaho has going for it as well.
There is good news, however! That news comes in the form of Idaho’s opponent, the 1-4 New Mexico State Aggies, on a four game losing streak after winning their opener against Big Sky Sacramento State. They also are without a conference next season.
Idaho coach Robb Akey was short and succinct about last Saturday’s game at North Carolina. After all, the Vandals did get blown out in every sense of the term, coming home with shields battered after a 66-0 loss.
“Obviously we didn’t play well, and we didn’t give ourselves an opportunity. They jumped off fast, it got ugly, it got out of control. Thank God it’s over, it’s history, we’re back home,” Akey said.
That’s the gist of what he had to say about the game. Instead, the coach used the news conference to push his attention to the future – A homecoming match-up between the FBS’ two newest Independent hopefuls. The New Mexico State Aggies are in the same position as Idaho, as the school has announced its intention to explore the independence route the same as Idaho. In fact, the schools are planning on playing a home and home next season – as in playing twice in one year.
As the athletic directors of the two schools work to finalize scheduling contracts that will allow both to stay afloat as FBS programs, it’s the head coaches that will work to solve the more immediate problem on the field.
Idaho sits at 0-5 on the year. New Mexico State is 1-4, with its only win against FCS Sacramento State.
“A week ago we’re sitting here in this same news conference talking about looking for a way to make one more play and find a way to make it happen and get ourselves over the top,” Akey said. “That’s the same team that we are. We’re going to make that happen this week.”
Vandal fans should hope so. This just might the most winnable game left on the schedule. Idaho faces four more road contests and it’s two remaining home opponents have a combined 9-1 record (that lone loss is San Jose State’s three point loss at Stanford).
It can’t hurt that it’s also Homecoming week, in which the alumni visiting Moscow for the weekend could help to swell the hurting attendance at the Kibbie Dome.
“It’s homecoming, so why don’t y’all come on home. we’d love to have you and we got space available for you,” Akey said. “We’re all Vandals. And we want to see this team perform well. Obviously we all want the results of celebrating a victory, all singing the fight song. The corner club having a packed house with everybody happy after the game, that’s what we all expect.”
Here are the rest of Akey’s comments:
- TE Taylor Elmo suffered a shoulder injury Saturday, Akey said. It’s not clear if that will make him unavailable on Saturday
- DE Benson Mayowa did not travel to North Carolina with the team, but Akey expects him to be available this weekend.
- MLB Su’a Tuala was able to play Saturday against North Carolina, but the hamstring injury is still a factor
- Also an intriguing storyline is the resignation of New Mexico State President Barbara Couture, who had served as the President of the WAC Board of directors.
On Blackman’s four interceptions: “Do I think that’s characteristic of him in a big game? No. I think it happened on that given day, unfortunately.” “Throw that all on him? I don’t think so. To dissect that North Carolina experience, we don’t need to re-live that.”
On the challenge of keeping the team confident: “I hope that we have our minds ready to come back. That to me is the challenge right now. They don’t need to re-live what took place in north Carolina. We’ve washed that thing away yesterday. We need to pay attention to something we have an effect on. It’s my responsibility and honor to be able to help them find a way to do it and see what they can do, because everybody else is telling us what we can’t do, we don’t need to listen to them.”
On struggles defending the deep ball: “We got to continue to work on technique and work on finishing that better. So that’s the technique of everybody involved,” he said. “The best coverage I’ve ever seen is a quarterback laying on his back.”
On the strength the WAC has shown in the first half of the season: “When we got started with the conference season I felt like anybody could make anything happen within here. Everybody is looking at us saying Idaho’s not going to be in that mix, well don’t count us out. We haven’t started the WAC play yet. But I do think there’s some damn good teams in this conference.”
On DeWayne Walker and NMSU’s similar conf. situation: Akey talked about the time that Walker was in Moscow watching his daughter compete in the WAC track and field championships last spring and the conversations they had about the similar situations they were in.
“We were talking about what goes on…We’re both fighting some similar battles in a lot of ways. He’s a guy I got a lot of respect for,” he said.
On communication between Akey and AD Rob Spear on schedule: “We’ve talked about it quite a bit, since we’ve got thrown in to this in the last couple months now. There’s been a lot of change to it. A lot of finality needs to get set in. We just visited a little more about it last week. Hopefully we can get some contracts secured so we can let everybody know what it is going on there. Some days it looks better than others, some days I’m looking for there to be another change. It’s on a better swing right now.”
Akey also brought up the impact that this situation has on recruiting, while also saying it’s easier to walk into a prospective recruit’s house for a recruiting visit with a new bowl ring as opposed to an old one. Akey said he’s also had some conversations with players that have approached him about Idaho’s situation but that the focus is still on this season.
“Certainly there’s going to be some of my younger guys…that are returning that are going to have some questions and I’m going to be honest with them and answer everything we can,” he said.
All throughout the fall the emphasis of this Idaho football team was supposed to be finish. From the t-shirts, to throwing four fingers in the air during the fourth quarter of every game, and practice for that matter. Akey even said he used the word over 700 times during his media sessions at WAC media days.
But it was the same song and dance for the Vandals, relinquishing a fourth quarter lead to the Wyoming Cowboys and falling in overtime. Quarterback Dominique Blackman’s fumble on the one yard early in the fourth quarter seemed to be the turning point. It turned an opportunity for Idaho to go up two touchdowns in to an opportunity that Wyoming seized to tie the game.
With Idaho sitting at 0-4 for the first time since Nick Holt was the head coach (2005) it would imaginably be hard to stay positive, but that’s what Robb Akey is choosing to do.
“We’re one outcome of a play away, one inch away and I got to make sure our guys see that. I’m sick for our players to not have the win coming out of that game…We played that game well,” Akey said. “You look at the growth that our team has made and that’s what I’m going to focus at.”
Those positives Akey focused on was mainly on the offensive side of the ball. The offense totaled over 500 yards of offense and scored a season high 37 points, which is more than Idaho had scored the previous three games combined (30).
Those positives will need to continue for Idaho from here. They’ll play on the road at North Carolina next week before coming home to face New Mexico State at the Kibbie Dome during Homecoming weekend.
This week something has to give. Two teams will walk in to the Kibbie Dome in week four without losses, one will walk out with a win.
The opponent this week is the Wyoming Cowboys, who the Vandals see when they look at themselves in the mirror. Wyoming is the same 0-3 as Idaho and in almost identical fashion. Wyoming lost close to a MAC opponent in week two, lost to a BCS opponent in Texas in week one and fell to a Big Sky opponent in Cal Poly without their starting quarterback.
“I’ve never experienced this before, it’s all new ground to me. It’s not where I want to be, I know it’s not where Idaho wants to be. Both teams are very similar in a lot of way,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said.
With their backs against the wall before a conference game is even played, coach Robb Akey isn’t ready to concede the season yet.
“Is any football team in the country that hasn’t won a game yet have great confidence? I would doubt it,” he said. “Certainly that is my challenge as the coach, is to make sure the guys do see how the parts have come together.”
A win against Wyoming is critical if Idaho still harbors any dreams of making it back to a bowl game, since the schedule hardly gets any easier. Future dates on the road against North Carolina, La. Tech, BYU and Utah State mean the margin for error is close to zero. Continue reading
For 30 minutes last Saturday night in Baton Rouge the Vandals seemed to be, somewhat, going tit for tat with the No. 2 (or No. 3, depending on your preferred poll) team in the nation. Twice the Vandals pulled to within a touchdown in the first half after LSU had ample opportunities to put the game away. Twice the Vandals battled back and made a statement. Both the 94-yard interception return from Gary Walker that set up Dominique Blackman’s first touchdown pass of the game to make it 14-7, as well as the seven-play 81-yard drive capped off with a 22 yard touchdown pass to Jahrie Level that made it 21-14.
Unfortunately for Idaho, football games are sixty minutes.
Idaho went in to the half down 28-14, but 35 unanswered second half points from the Tigers gave everybody the game that was pretty much expected.
“There are things within the game that we’re going to build from. Battles within the battle that if you can do it part of the time I think you have an opportunity to do it all the time,” coach Robb Akey said. “I’m not big on saying ‘this was great’ because if it was great the score wouldn’t have read like it did.” Continue reading