Idaho to play as FBS Independent in 2013?

By Kevin Kelley -

Idaho VandalsWith the fall of the WAC as a football conference, the Idaho Vandals are seeking a new affiliation for their football program. That could be as an FBS Independent beginning in 2013.

“If we can get a football schedule put together, we’ll do it,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear told the Idaho Statesman.

According to NCAA rule, FBS football teams must schedule 60% of its games against other FBS members. Member institutions must also play five home games against FBS opponents.

The Statesman reports that Idaho currently has one signed contract for a game in 2013 against Northern Illinois. Previous reports and news releases also indicate that Idaho is tentatively slated to play at Ole Miss, Washington State, and Wyoming.

Those contracts are likely held up until the Idaho State Board of Education makes a decision on the Vandals’ conference affiliation. The board is scheduled to meet this week.

Idaho is also looking at several other options:

Idaho has not yet asked the NCAA for a scheduling waiver, but it did talk to the governing body about maintaining FBS status even if the program didn’t compete as a true FBS independent, presumably playing a mix of FBS and Football Championship Subdivision teams.

“We’ve explored a bunch of things with them,” said Spear, who acknowledged that getting games in October and November is the most difficult part of an independent schedule.

Idaho is seeking home-and-home contracts with potential opponents, meaning independence is likely a two-year commitment. The Vandals believe conference realignment is not over yet — and that future moves could leave space for Idaho in an FBS league.

Obviously, Idaho is hoping that they can go independent for a couple of years and then find a new home in a (hopefully) expanding Big East, Mountain West, or Conference USA.

If they can’t find a new FBS conference down the road, Idaho could have to drop down to FCS.

Comments (31)

Unfortunately for the Vandals, unlikely they’ll ever get a chance to join the Big East. Boise State’s not shy about pointing out their dislike for their cross-state rivals, so regardless of Idaho’s success, the Broncos will block.

The MWC would obviously be the best fit, but they’ve also offered a definitive ‘no’ to the university. Ideally, the WAC and Big Sky can come to terms on their agreement that would allow the Vandals to remain relevant in football (being in the top FCS league), while keeping their other sports at a high level (in an expanded Big Sky).

Looks like Idaho is hoping the MWC expands down the road. Big East is a long shot I know, but threw that in there due to proximity of BSU and SDSU.

Since they already play in a 18,000 seat barn………1-AA/Big Sky may be the final destination.

Well idaho in the next 6 years will have a new event pavillion and will expand the kibbie dome to 27,500. So if they can stay a float in the fbs the will be okay.

agreed. but they would be overpowered in 1-AA due to high experience in FBS. they would win the FCS championship just about every year. FCS teams like appalachian state, north dakota state, sam houston state, eastern washington, georgia southern, montana, princeton, and wofford would look like crap compared to them (but appalachian state did beat a #5 michigan team in the big house one time so idk)

That only leaves NEW MEXICO STATE, the lone ranger of the “WAC” is it the FCS for them, or are they going to try and jump to another conference?

NMSU needs to have the New Mexico Legislature put pressure on New Mexico to let them in the MWC. That or they will be looking at the Southern Conference or Sun Belt (if they are lucky).

Didn’t Sun Belt already say no to NMSU? I thought they’d inquired with Sun Belt, MWC and C-USA but were denied all around.

Yes the Sun Belt did say no…do you blame them? These 2 teams were in the Sin Belt for several years but left as soon as they found a new home. Sund Belt is safe and the WAC is dead. Looks like the Vandals and Aggies messed up!

Well, Idaho and NMSU can play each other, so there is one home game for each of them every two years. They both might be able to continue games with BYU, but may be looking at 2-for-1 type arrangements.

Can neutral site games count as “home” games for Idaho or NMSU if they “host” the game? If so, that is probably the only way to get to 5 home games against FBS opponents each year. Especially Idaho; it has such a rinky-dink stadium that is not easy to get to.

They could probably get BYU to play them home-home-neutral, with Idaho and NMSU “hosting” the neutral site game in Las Vegas, Denver, or California or Texas somewhere. They could take a similar approach with regional MWC, C-USA, and even PAC 12 teams to play them at neutral sites.

Rule states “In addition, an institution may use one home contest against a Football Bowl Subdivision member conducted at a neutral site to satisfy the home-game requirement.”

So that answers that. Idaho and NMSU should definitely look into some neutral site opportunities.

NMSU will have an easier time reaching 5 home games, because they already have built in rivalries with New Mexico and UTEP and a neutral site game in Las Vegas or even Texas is closer to home than it would be for Idaho.

why? They were safe and sound in the Sun Belt but LEFT. I do not blame the Sun Belt for not wanting them back

NMSU actually has a decent shot to work out as an independent. New Mexico and UTEP will continue to schedule them because of proximity and history. UTSA and Texas State are also close enough to make annual home-home games work. Those four teams right there get NMSU two-thirds of what they need on the schedule (60% of games against FBS) and 40% of what they need for a home schedule (2 out of 5 “home” games each year against FBS). Throw in an annual neutral-site game in Las Vegas, Denver, or Arlington and NMSU just needs to stagger a few 2-for-1’s so they get a couple more home games each year.

Idaho, with an 18,000-seat “stadium”, probably fits better in the FCS anyway.

I think NMSU will actually be invited to the sun belt eventually. I think they would be the 11 pr 12 school in the conference. I think the hold up is that the sun belt is debating on who most helps them with football the most.

If the Big 12 expands, look for the Big East to need two more teams and those would likely be ECU and Southern Miss. That leaves C-USA possibly annexing Idaho and NMSU or the Sun Belt adding them if C-USA brings Ark. State and Troy/ULL in.

One of the home games can be FCS ( as long as the FCS team used 90% of it’s scholarships.

So they only need 4 FBS home games. I think they can manage that.

Do some (most?) of the Big Sky teams use 90% of their available scholarships? That could certainly help.

To be honest, I think that Boise State should either shut it or help Idaho Find a home. And if the Big East is interested in adding the University Of Idaho then and Boise State says no, BSU can go cry in the corner! I believe that the current team setup in the Big East with SMU, San Diego State, and Houston in the West and that gives Idaho a good chance to be a better recruting program as they were in the WAC or Sun Belt.

The 60% isn’t the problem, it’s the 5 home games that are the problem.

IMO, New Mexico State has a much better chance at (at least temporary) FBS independence than Idaho does. They’ve got many more “low-level” FBS teams that are closer, so they’re more likely to be able to find opponents to travel to NMSU. They’ve also got two existing FBS rivalries (UNM and UTEP) and could add BYU and Army to the schedule too.

Idaho has already been failing to meet FBS attendance requirements. I presume at some point they’ll drop to FCS and rejoin the Big Sky. I’m not sure what NMSU will do. It would be nice for NMSU if they were in the same conference as UTEP (currently C-USA), which would benefit a conference regarding scheduling & travel.

C-USA has gotten big enough that I am curious as to whether or not it might split apart in the future. If that happened, NMSU could probably join UTEP’s conference.

If the Big East still needs a 14th member (once Navy joins up in 2015) they could theoretically take either NMSU or Idaho if they’re still available (presumably they’d take NMSU).

That’s true, Southern Miss is more likely. But I’m never sure I’ll understand the thought processes of the Big East management, so I never rule anything out.

The Big East would more likely take Air Force or, frankly, any other MWC or C-USA team, before they selected either NMSU or Idaho. And, it’s not even close.

The Big East will be looking first at one more school out west to help balance Boise State, SDSU, and the Texas schools with the rest of the conference. BYU is the main target, but Air Force is a nice fall back option. An in conference rivalry between Navy and Air Force would be healthy.

Depending on further realignment at the top that pulls from the Big East (Louisville to Big 12? UConn and Rutgers to ACC?) the Big East will probably look east rather than west. As mentioned above, East Carolina and Southern Miss are logical targets at that point. FIU will also be a target. FIU has almost 50,000 students, which creates a large alumni base for donations and fan support. The plan is already underway to enlarge their small stadium to about 45,000 fans. (was 17K and will be 25K in 2012).

If Troy bounces bak to prominence they should be offered into the Big East. Or move Alabama to the ACC @ move Florida State to the SEC so they can play Florida every year. UL-Monroe would also be a nice fit for the Big 10

Jonnie…..there is no way that Alabama would ever leave the SEC or that the Big 10 would ever invite Louisiana-Monroe. But the Big 12 would be a nice fit for Florida State. Idaho should head back to the Big Sky and NMSU should head for the Southland…

No way the Big East takes NMSU or Idaho. Fresno State, UNLV, Colorado State, Wyoming, Nevada, Southern Miss, ECU and a lot more have better chances at the Big East than Idaho and NMSU. They will be lucky to get into CUSA or MWC. Doubt either of those 2?

If Boise and San Diego St do go Big East and eventually Air Force as well. I wonder if Idaho would have a shot to get in the MWC.

I’d guess that NMSU would get into the MWC before Idaho, but I don’t really know.

As it stands, even with 10 (football) teams, the MWC teams are only playing an eight-game football schedule. If Air Force leaves, they might just stay put at 8 full / 9 football members. I’m not sure I see Air Force leaving though. Since they’d have to leave the MWC, that would doom all of their non-football sports to irrelevance in the “Western Leftovers Conference” …