With the University of Idaho’s football future up in the air, school president Chuck Staben met with Idaho Statesman about the program and it’s future.
He told the Statesman the university will show a video presentation to the Sun Belt Conference presidents in February, and pitch their case to remain in the conference. The presidents are scheduled to vote in early March on whether they can remain a member.
Idaho initially joined the conference in 2014. They finished the 2015 season 4-8 after back-to-back one-win seasons in 2013 and 2014.
Staben has considered other options, like possibly returning to the Football Championship Subdivision and the Big Sky Conference.
“We certainly don’t have a guarantee of renewal,” Staben said. “We’ve had some pretty tough years in Idaho football. We had a better year this year. The Sun Belt wants to have members that can contribute to the prominence of the conference.”
Transitioning to the FCS from the Football Bowl Subdivision would come with it’s downsides, as the Statesman reports the school would lose revenue, have to reduce scholarships from 85 to 63, and have a smaller operating budget. Changing from FBS to FCS would likely mean they’d have to play a hybrid schedule and would be ruled ineligible for the FCS playoffs in 2018 and 2019.
“It’s never happened before, so there’s not yet a set plan,” Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton said. “We wouldn’t want them to skip a recruiting class or anything like that. We’re being patient, but we think they’d be a great fit.”
The Vandals also have a third option – becoming independent, which is what they did in 2013, although Staben admitted that option wasn’t attractive. With National Signing Day right around the corner, he’s told coaches to be honest wth potential players.
“Our recruits are not asking that kind of question, as far as I know,” Staben said. “We’ve informed the coaches to be honest about what we’re doing; we haven’t made a decision and we’re considering our options.”