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Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
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LatahCounty Offline
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Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
From today's Lewiston Tribune, a fascinating article based on FOIA'ed emails within the UI President & AD offices. A lot here. Could someone please convince another fine academic institution to hire Chuck Staben away from us?

Reposted in entirety:

MOSCOW - In late April, the University of Idaho made a landmark NCAA decision, dropping its football program from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to the lower-tier Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and effectively ending a 22-year run at the highest level of college football.

UI president Chuck Staben formally announced the school's intention to join the Big Sky Conference in a news conference on April 28, more than a month after the Sun Belt Conference chose not to re-up with the Vandals.

The move was controversial. It was met with resistance. Many vehemently disagreed with Staben's vision. Others thought the president acted rashly in making a decision just 58 days after the Sun Belt showed UI the door - that he moved too swiftly without truly combing through the options, or allowing others to materialize.

The Big Sky gave Idaho until May 3 to accept an invitation, but it was widely thought to be more of a soft deadline than an ultimatum, and the league would grant an extension if requested.

Idaho's top athletic administrator was among those who believed the university's best move, for the time being, was to not make a move at all.

According to public records obtained by the Tribune, athletic director Rob Spear drafted an email seven days prior to the Big Sky announcement, listing three reasons that would merit delaying such a decision.

"President Staben, The more I reflect on this decision, the more I think it is important that you delay the Big Sky decision for the following reasons," Spear wrote in an email addressed to himself. "1. We have a number of spring sport championships that will be completely over shadowed with an announcement in May. This would be unfortunate for those student-athletes. 2. Football has endured an investigation and getting removed from the Sun Belt. I don't think it is fair for the student-athletes and coaches to endure another setback. There are a lot of positives heading into next season. 3. An announcement now will tremendously impact fundraising."

The university charged the Tribune $911.14 to furnish the public records, which included 645 email communications sent by, and received by, both Staben and Spear. On May 3, university general counsel responded to an initial email sent by the Tribune, affirming the UI was in receipt of the records request. General counsel began collecting the emails on May 19, but didn't make them available until Aug. 29. According to Idaho law, public records requests must be granted or denied within 10 working days of the request.

Spear, who flanked Staben and sported an unenthused look during points of the April 28 news conference, hasn't backpedaled from his original stance.

"At the time I thought a delayed announcement was important to allow us to focus on season ticket sales and fiscal year-end fundraising," Spear told the Tribune late last week. Idaho's AD also anticipated additional shifting within college football, but noted, "That movement appears to be happening with the Big 12 but it is unlikely that it will trickle far enough down to benefit the University of Idaho."

The Big Sky decision still looms large in Moscow.

According to Spear, the school's fundraising and season ticket sales have both taken hits. A number of the emails obtained by the Tribune came from displeased donors threatening to pull their financial support to the football program.

Between Jan. 1 and May 1, 132 individuals wrote letters to Spear and Staben expressing their opinion. Of those, 45 agreed with the move, while another 87 opposed it.

The Vandals will play the remainder of this season, and the next one, in the Sun Belt before dropping down in 2018. Another casualty of the move is the number of scholarships the UI will have to cut. FCS schools are only allowed 63 scholarships, as opposed to the 85 Idaho can currently hand out as an FBS institution. The Vandals have already taken measures to assure that they'll be NCAA compliant in two years.

In mid-February, Idaho made its case to remain a Sun Belt member, but emails suggest that Staben was preparing for the Big Sky move well before he presented to the SBC's chancellors and presidents on Feb. 15.

In a Jan. 5 message addressed to Spear, Staben wrote: "I feel more strongly that we need to plan to move to Big Sky."

When the SBC declined an option to renew Idaho's lease, the school mulled its options: remain an FBS member by declaring independence, or make an unprecedented move and become the first program to drop down.

The Vandals were Big Sky members for 30 years, from 1965-95, before leaving for the FBS and Big West Conference in 1996.

Spear began to compile, but never finalized, an independent schedule for the 2018 football season.

"While an independent schedule was doable, the schedule would have been extremely challenging," Spear said last week.

The email records also reveal an interesting conversation between Spear and Western Athletic Conference commissioner Jeff Hurd, where Hurd broaches the possibility of reviving the WAC as a football league.

"Rob: Have you had an opportunity to speak with your President regarding football and whether or not he believes the idea of other Big Sky institutions moving to the FBS level could have any legs?" Hurd wrote. "Although (former Big Sky commissioner) Doug Fullerton had interest, one of my concerns is that the new Commissioner might consider it too much of a risk to have on his/her plate right shortly after being hired."

Spear replied: "Jeff, do you have time for a call? I don't want to respond via email...FOIA."

The AD warned about Freedom of Information Act requests in one other email, addressed to Staben.

However, in an email reply addressed to another recipient, Spear wrote: "It may be time to get the WAC to take 6 football schools and form an FBS league. It would certainly save the WAC!"

In another message, he said: "The WAC has traction and I look forward to influencing the Big Sky from within. I know I can convince Montana and Montana State to jump...we need to lock arms with them. And a bowl win changes everything! I know our kids will be motivated!"

Last week, Spear clarified that the WAC would need eight members to become an FBS league and six to become an FCS league.

Although the WAC has expressed interest in reviving football - it originally disbanded in 2012 - other FBS conferences may not find the idea so appealing.

"While the NCAA rules still recognize the WAC as an FBS league, I am not so sure how excited the current FBS conferences are about adding another league and dividing the money with another conference," Spear said last week. He added: "Whatever Idaho does in the future I think it is important that we align with Montana and Montana State."

Spear, who'd always been a staunch advocate of UI retaining its FBS tag, said the UI lacked the private funding to remain "financially competitive" as a member of college football's top tier.

"We would have to invest $5 to $6 million annually into the football program," Spear sad. "This funding was not being provided through private donations and was not going to come at the expense of academic programs."

In multiple emails, however, Spear advises that the decision wasn't his to make. He constantly fed input to Staben, but the ball was in the president's court.

"Ultimately, President Staben made the decision to move to the FCS," Spear said.
09-29-2016 10:45 AM
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CardinalBlackTrojan Offline
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
That is very interesting.

I do strongly believe that another FBS conference will form out West. Whether the Big Sky moves up to FBS, or the WAC is revived, or a new conference is formed. It seems like it's bound to happen with the number of schools out there will large fanbases and sponsors. They will eventually want to move forward even further with their programs. Could be years from now, but I do see it happening.
09-29-2016 11:01 AM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
It's a real shame what happened in Idaho. I always felt they were too far out of the footprint to remain in the SBC but always respected them and what they have tried to accomplish there.
09-29-2016 11:12 AM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
Bad leadership, historically, at Idaho has lead to this. How they allowed a JUCO to pass the state university is beyond me.

Good luck to you guys, but I agree, location is really hindering y'all. Your best hope currently is the WAC, but who knows, another run of realignment and the MWC may come calling.

Just keep winning and get a bowl the last two seasons.
09-29-2016 11:55 AM
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chiefsfan Online
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
Somewhere NoDak is patting himself on the back.
09-29-2016 12:04 PM
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CrimsonPhantom Offline
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
I doubt the G5 Will allow another FBS conference to come into existence. They will have to share their CFP money with it.
09-29-2016 12:11 PM
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LatahCounty Offline
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 12:04 PM)chiefsfan Wrote:  Somewhere NoDak is patting himself on the back.

That's my favorite part. He's at least 5% correct about something.
09-29-2016 12:16 PM
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GoBigRed26 Offline
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
If I worked at a University and was in a position of power, one which a lot of people took interest, I would not use my email at all except for mundane things.


Like:
"Hey Barb, don't forget to pick up the cupcakes for Steve's birthday tomorrow."


Not:
"Hey we got this new medical school. If you can make sure my daughter is accepted into the graduate program at your school, I will make sure your nephew gets into med school here."
09-29-2016 12:28 PM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 11:55 AM)Usajags Wrote:  Bad leadership, historically, at Idaho has lead to this. How they allowed a JUCO to pass the state university is beyond me.

Good luck to you guys, but I agree, location is really hindering y'all. Your best hope currently is the WAC, but who knows, another run of realignment and the MWC may come calling.

Just keep winning and get a bowl the last two seasons.

It really is in large part due to the changing dynamics of higher education. The historical model of students going away to school has to a great extent been shifted to them wanting to go to school where they are. Boise is in the major population center, UI is far from the population center. There are, of course other factors, but this is a major one.
09-29-2016 12:40 PM
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VandalBasher Offline
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
I have heard from a couple of people the AD is putting all efforts in the WAC basket.

For me, I really hope the PAC12 becomes the PAC14 and pulls in CSU and USU WHILE the AFA is grabbed by the BIG XII.
09-29-2016 12:48 PM
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EigenEagle Offline
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
Basically, what I get out of this is that Idaho's administration isn't completely ready to throw up the white flag. Good for Idaho.

Hold off on giving a medal to Nodak, though, because I can assure you there is no way in bleep that all or even most of the Big Sky is going to move up to become the new WAC football conference. Most of the Big Sky members are either unwilling or unable to move up, and the Big Sky is so massive as an FCS conference there's not much fear of getting below the minimum membership for an FCS playoff automatic bid. It's just not going to happen. If there's any chance of WAC revival, it will look something like this:

Montana
Montana State
North Dakota
North Dakota State
Idaho
NMSU
One or two current WAC members adding football
One or two of Texas State, UNT, and UTSA who may want to be in a more western league

And even that seems like a longshot.

Honestly, I don't see why Idaho can't go independent unless scheduling is just too difficult. It would be really hard to make a bowl game with no conference but if you pack on 3 or 4 money games a year you can make up for a lot of what you miss out on from conference play.
09-29-2016 02:56 PM
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LatahCounty Offline
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 02:56 PM)EigenEagle Wrote:  Basically, what I get out of this is that Idaho's administration isn't completely ready to throw up the white flag. Good for Idaho.

Hold off on giving a medal to Nodak, though, because I can assure you there is no way in bleep that all or even most of the Big Sky is going to move up to become the new WAC football conference. Most of the Big Sky members are either unwilling or unable to move up, and the Big Sky is so massive as an FCS conference there's not much fear of getting below the minimum membership for an FCS playoff automatic bid. It's just not going to happen. If there's any chance of WAC revival, it will look something like this:

Montana
Montana State
North Dakota
North Dakota State
Idaho
NMSU
One or two current WAC members adding football
One or two of Texas State, UNT, and UTSA who may want to be in a more western league

And even that seems like a longshot.

Honestly, I don't see why Idaho can't go independent unless scheduling is just too difficult. It would be really hard to make a bowl game with no conference but if you pack on 3 or 4 money games a year you can make up for a lot of what you miss out on from conference play.

If we'd had a different president we could certainly have made a deal with the Potato Bowl and taken a trial run at indy. Possibly the end result would have been the same but our boosters and current players & coaches would have been a lot more satisifed. Especially considering that after 5 years in the wilderness our current coach is finally building a program with a foundation and it would be nice to see that play out. What's happened instead has been a master class in donor and fan alienation.
09-29-2016 03:02 PM
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CrimsonPhantom Offline
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
NoDak must be the same or related to this guy on the WAC board, f#cker wont shut up about a WAC/Big Sky merger.
09-29-2016 03:21 PM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 12:48 PM)VandalBasher Wrote:  I have heard from a couple of people the AD is putting all efforts in the WAC basket.

For me, I really hope the PAC12 becomes the PAC14 and pulls in CSU and USU WHILE the AFA is grabbed by the BIG XII.

The PAC-Whatever is waiting on the GOR to be up for Texas and Oklahoma after the 2017 season. If they add anyone even BYU and Cincy then I expect Texas and Oklahoma to tell the B12, see ya...

(09-29-2016 02:56 PM)EigenEagle Wrote:  Basically, what I get out of this is that Idaho's administration isn't completely ready to throw up the white flag. Good for Idaho.

Hold off on giving a medal to Nodak, though, because I can assure you there is no way in bleep that all or even most of the Big Sky is going to move up to become the new WAC football conference. Most of the Big Sky members are either unwilling or unable to move up, and the Big Sky is so massive as an FCS conference there's not much fear of getting below the minimum membership for an FCS playoff automatic bid. It's just not going to happen. If there's any chance of WAC revival, it will look something like this:

Montana
Montana State
North Dakota
North Dakota State
Idaho
NMSU
One or two current WAC members adding football
One or two of Texas State, UNT, and UTSA who may want to be in a more western league

And even that seems like a longshot.

Honestly, I don't see why Idaho can't go independent unless scheduling is just too difficult. It would be really hard to make a bowl game with no conference but if you pack on 3 or 4 money games a year you can make up for a lot of what you miss out on from conference play.

I come to the conclusion when the WAC was going down in flames that Montana has no interest what so ever in a move to IA. The Montana admin are happy where they are and even more the Montana alumni/alum and fans are happy in the Big Sky.

I peek at egriz.com sometimes and you never see a IA discussion thread.
09-29-2016 08:40 PM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 03:21 PM)CrimsonPhantom Wrote:  NoDak must be the same or related to this guy on the WAC board, f#cker wont shut up about a WAC/Big Sky merger.

That's him. Goes by StarCity2 and SiouxValley as well.
09-29-2016 08:41 PM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 08:40 PM)HerdZoned Wrote:  
(09-29-2016 12:48 PM)VandalBasher Wrote:  I have heard from a couple of people the AD is putting all efforts in the WAC basket.

For me, I really hope the PAC12 becomes the PAC14 and pulls in CSU and USU WHILE the AFA is grabbed by the BIG XII.

The PAC-Whatever is waiting on the GOR to be up for Texas and Oklahoma after the 2017 season. If they add anyone even BYU and Cincy then I expect Texas and Oklahoma to tell the B12, see ya...

If that happens, OkSt and possibly OU both run to the SEC, Texas has flirted with the PAC 12, OU and OkSt have flirted with the SEC. Story is OU and OkSt are connected at the hip, where one goes, the other follows.
09-29-2016 09:04 PM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 09:04 PM)Usajags Wrote:  If that happens, OkSt and possibly OU both run to the SEC, Texas has flirted with the PAC 12, OU and OkSt have flirted with the SEC. Story is OU and OkSt are connected at the hip, where one goes, the other follows.

I look for "The Big 4", of power conferences by 2020 or 2022. Its what everyone has wanted for years, especially ESPN. Its a shame all of this mess was all started by a cable company that should be phased out in the next 10-15 years when all cable companies will most likely go ala carte. And streaming games on-line will become more profitable.
09-29-2016 10:00 PM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 09:04 PM)Usajags Wrote:  
(09-29-2016 08:40 PM)HerdZoned Wrote:  
(09-29-2016 12:48 PM)VandalBasher Wrote:  I have heard from a couple of people the AD is putting all efforts in the WAC basket.

For me, I really hope the PAC12 becomes the PAC14 and pulls in CSU and USU WHILE the AFA is grabbed by the BIG XII.

The PAC-Whatever is waiting on the GOR to be up for Texas and Oklahoma after the 2017 season. If they add anyone even BYU and Cincy then I expect Texas and Oklahoma to tell the B12, see ya...

If that happens, OkSt and possibly OU both run to the SEC, Texas has flirted with the PAC 12, OU and OkSt have flirted with the SEC. Story is OU and OkSt are connected at the hip, where one goes, the other follows.

Not going to happen. No way the SEC ties up what will probably be the last two spots in the SEC to pick up two teams that represent barely 3 Million people. They don't need to improve their conference's strength of schedule and the SEC Network (in it's current model) makes more money than the rest of their TV contract. It simply makes about zero cent$ and those two are out of the footprint and add co$t to travel other sports with little compensation when compared to other expansion options.

The SEC would make almost 7 times more money every month by adding a team from NC and VA (about 20 million plus residents combined). And basically stay within a reasonable footprint. $ talks. The okies can all walk, but I don't know where they would be headed. It ain't gonna be the SEC though. Unless the SEC all of a sudden doesn't care about money.
(This post was last modified: 09-30-2016 01:14 AM by The4thOption.)
09-30-2016 01:11 AM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-30-2016 01:11 AM)The4thOption Wrote:  Not going to happen. No way the SEC ties up what will probably be the last two spots in the SEC to pick up two teams that represent barely 3 Million people. They don't need to improve their conference's strength of schedule and the SEC Network (in it's current model) makes more money than the rest of their TV contract. It simply makes about zero cent$ and those two are out of the footprint and add co$t to travel other sports with little compensation when compared to other expansion options.

The SEC would make almost 7 times more money every month by adding a team from NC and VA (about 20 million plus residents combined). And basically stay within a reasonable footprint. $ talks. The okies can all walk, but I don't know where they would be headed. It ain't gonna be the SEC though. Unless the SEC all of a sudden doesn't care about money.

A big shakeup may be the PAC's cue to go ahead and hit 16, taking Texas, the Oklahoma schools, and one more lucky program.
09-30-2016 07:21 AM
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RE: Interesting Article on Idaho Drop-Down/FBS WAC
(09-29-2016 08:40 PM)HerdZoned Wrote:  I come to the conclusion when the WAC was going down in flames that Montana has no interest what so ever in a move to IA. The Montana admin are happy where they are and even more the Montana alumni/alum and fans are happy in the Big Sky.

I peek at egriz.com sometimes and you never see a IA discussion thread.

Montana wouldn't have saved the WAC. If they had moved up they might be in the same pickle that Idaho is in now. If Montana sees a stable non-power Western conference that will have them IMO they will try and move up, but they might be stuck with Montana State.
09-30-2016 08:34 AM
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