I am torn by the Idaho Vandals going independent in Division I football and moving all other sports to the Big Sky Conference. They are fighting for survival in Division I after being snubbed by the Mountain West Conference. I am torn because I want them to stay at the FBS level in football, but feel the security of the Big Sky is where they probably should be. I personally feel that Idaho would fit in perfectly in the Mountain West. They compete on an equal basis with all the schools and do quite well in all of the olympic sports. Though they have struggled in football, they almost beat Colorado State University in Fort Collins a couple of years ago.
I think Idaho has suffered from a perception problem. People think it is hard to get to Moscow, but it is not that hard to get to.
Then there is a media market problem. Moscow is in one media market (Spokane) but its major fan base is located in Boise, another media market. But they also have a large fan base in Portland and Seattle. I think the Mountain West and others are discounting this larger fan base.
Has Idaho made some mistakes? I think so. When they had the opportunity to develop and expand its facilities, they were slow to the party. They have made some steps to expand the Kibbie Dome, but it only sits 18,000. They need about 12,000 more to have a good size for Division I. While they use the Kibbie Dome for basketball, or as it is known as the Cowen Spectrum, they do need a dedicated activity center complex where they can play basketball, volleyball, dare I say hockey, and the jazz festival.
But fans, alumni, students, and residents of the inland northwest need to start coming out and supporting the Vandals. Getting only 12,000 to come out for a game against a team is something that all of us Vandals should not stand for. Since the Kibbie Dome only sits 18,000, that place should be sold out every game.
We are all Vandals and I trust that Rob Spear and Duane Nellis are going to do what is best for Idaho.