FCS is viable option for Idaho
There’s a lot of uncertainty in college football right now, and there’s no better example of it than right here at the University of Idaho. With the WAC disintegrating, Idaho plans to explore independence in football with a possible move to the Big Sky in all other sports.
It’s obvious Vandal football independence isn’t a permanent fix. Idaho is trying to buy time to hopefully find a new FBS conference to play in. If not, the only other option may be going back to the Big Sky in football, not just Olympic sports.
While the idea of dropping down to the Football Championship Subdivision has been met with opposition, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea. There are actually a number of benefits that could come from going to the Big Sky in football.
A chance at a national championship is a big reason. It’s no secret that Idaho will most likely never be in the running for a BCS National Championship, but in the FCS, it’s a real possibility. The Vandals were an FCS powerhouse when they left the Big Sky and could reclaim that if the move was made. To many, a chance at a national championship is far better than playing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
While it may not be a BCS National Championship, it’s a championship nonetheless. I can say from experience that a run at the FCS title is an exciting time for a school and its community. Having grown up attending Montana Grizzly games, I can vouch for how exciting the FCS playoffs can get. There’s nothing like being in a do-or-die situation, hoping to advance to the next round. Not only does it allow the possibility for more home games, it also creates more excitement in the region. Playoff football can only be a positive for Idaho.
Dropping down would both generate more excitement and rekindle some old rivalries. With Boise State’s move to the big East, it’s unlikely the Vandals will get to play its biggest rivalry game in the near future, but with a move to the FCS, old rivalries would be renewed. The Vandals would face Montana, Montana State, Idaho State and Eastern Washington each year. Those would make for some exciting matchups and generate regional hype. Rivalries are a positive for the students, fans and athletes. Also, multiple rivals close to Moscow would allow for easy travel to away games.
There are a number of cons that also go with a drop to the FCS. There would be a huge chunk of change lost, the team would lose some prestige and possibly some recruits. Those are major issues that have to be addressed, but the FCS is a viable option for Idaho and shouldn’t be ruled out. Instead of being a bottom third FBS team, the Vandals could be a top-ranked FBS team.
This is a pivotal time for Idaho athletics. The decisions now could have huge implications for the future.
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at email@example.com