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.
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.”
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.
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.
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