Idaho president, Chuck Staben did a radio interview the other day on the Sun Belt situation. Here's some snippets of the interview transcript, complete with our translation (in italics):
ON FBS VS FCS
"What we really want to do is have a conference that allows us to have stability, have influence on our athletics future and provides a great student-athlete experience. That is possible at either FBS or FCS, but we have to evaluate our options."
We really want Sun Belt, but as long as we're having fun and staying friendly, that's all that matters.
ON WHETHER THE VOTE WILL BE MOVED OR DELAYED
"I believe that they will act and they plan to take a vote on March 10. That’s what we have been told. I believe there will be a decision on the part of the Sun Belt at roughly that time."
I have not tried to stop them. Arkansas State AD Jeff Long promised to make me opossum roadkill stew if I asked.
ON TOP PRIORITY IF THE SUN BELT DOESN'T COME THROUGH
"We’ve been somewhat open about our alternatives and we’ve talked about the possibility of remaining FBS as an independent team, and we’ve talked about accepting an invitation that we have received from the Big Sky Conference, which would include joining them for football as well as all of our other sports. That would entail the move to the FCS level of competition in the fall of 2018. We’ve talked about both options."
We could TOTALLY do the BYU thing, because we are likable and personable. But we also like the Big Sky as much as the Sun Belt. Hopefully, they love us just as much. *winks seductively*
ON THE PROS AND CONS OF STAYING IN FBS
"I should add that we have talked about the possibility of going to another conference. At the moment it is not clear that we would be invited to join another conference, aside from the Sun Belt. We have focused primarily on the Independent FBS option and on the Big Sky FCS option. With respect to Independent, the advantage is that one remains at the FBS level, continues to play at that level of competition, which is more visible. There are some disadvantages to the Independent route. We have been Independent in the recent past. It’s very difficult to schedule, very difficult to recruit students to an Independent team that has an uncertain schedule and an uncertain conference affiliation. Those are the primary pros and cons of becoming Independent.
With respect to the affiliation with the Big Sky, we have a conference that has been fairly stable. A conference that is welcoming Idaho. A conference that has had significant football success and significant athletic success. Those are the primary pros. There are regional rivalries that would be established by joining the Big Sky Conference, primarily with Montana and Montana State. The largest con is that FCS football is less visible form of competition for the University. That’s really the biggest con. Another difference is we would move from 85 scholarships at the FBS level to 63 scholarships at the FCS level. That would affect our football team and it would also affect the availability of other sports, primarily women’s sports, because we would probably decrease the overall scholarship number by gender, approximately the same."
We know that the Sun Belt isn't going to invite us as a full member. We also know that it costs money to stay an Independent. I'd like to think that we're independently Independent, but really can someone please invite us so we don't have to go FCS? Craig? Judy? Anyone???
ON IF THERE ARE ANY WIN-SCENARIOS TO FBS VS. FCS
"I hope your listeners understand and our fans understand that I am an enthusiast for athletics. Athletics is an important part of the University of Idaho. It’s important for the student-athlete experience, it’s important for the student experience and it’s important for our alumni and fans. We’re going to move this program forward. There is probably more than one direction we might take, and we’ll take the best possible direction, focusing on what’s best for the University, what is best for the student-athlete and what’s best for our alumni and fans."
Have you not been watching Idaho athletics the last few years? We hardly win anything, we're here for the participation award!
ON WHAT THE BIG MONEY DONORS WANT
"It’s probably obvious, but people care deeply about athletics. That’s why you have an ESPN or a radio talk show of this sort, because people care so much. I’ve heard from many fans, many supporters of the University on this issue. It’s clear there is a deep division of opinion on what would be the best direction for the University. There are many strong supporters who feel it is critical we remain FBS. There are many that feel it is important we move to an FCS level and feel that we could compete more effectively. This is an area where there is great passion. I’m pleased to see that passion because I think as long as there is passion about the University we can build on that and ensure the success of our athletic program."
Whoever gives us the most money, that's the side we'll lean towards. Don't you guys know ANYTHING about politics?
ON THE MONEY-ISSUE VS. REGIONAL RIVALRY AT FCS-ISSUE
"Let me address the dollars and cents question. We’ve looked -- with Rob Spear’s help and the help of our Vice President of finance -- at the dollar and cents issues themselves. From a strictly financial perspective, remaining in the Sun Belt is the most attractive option. Becoming Independent or becoming an FCS team in the Big Sky are similar in terms of their financial position. Many people don’t realize that very few people make money on their athletic programs. It’s only about the top 20, not the top 20 percent, but the top 20 athletic programs. Kentucky, Ohio State, Florida etc. that actually make money on their athletics programs. The question isn’t whether we will make money on this move. We will probably expend funds to have a great experience for our students and our student-athletes. The question is how much. Money is not the primary driver. It’s issues of how conference affiliation supports our athletic programs long term, how it supports our student athletes. I think, from a money standpoint, we can make either of these decisions work, they just have different implications about what we do."
Don't bring up BJC. Don't bring up BJC. Don't bring up BJC.
ON IF THE VOTES FOR IDAHO AND NEW MEXICO STATE WILL BE SEPARATE
"To my understanding, from the Sun Belt, is that these are separate decisions. I think there are similar factors affecting the decisions, so they’ve been talked about as similar decisions, but they are joined at the hip decisions. New Mexico State will have to do what is best for its University and the Sun Belt will do what is best for it and we will do what is best for the University of Idaho."
The votes are separate. Oh shit...the votes are separate!
ON HOW ROB SPEAR IS DOING AND WHETHER HE EARNED HIS CONTRACT EXTENTION
"Rob has been at the University for quite a long time. He has been an absolutely solid contributor to the University. He’s a very professional athletic director. He is the person who can lead our athletic program forward. I feel privileged to work with Rob Spear. That is represented in my confidence in asking for, and receiving from the State Board of Education, an extension of his contract."
He treats for lunch every Wednesday and Friday, so I felt like I owed him a little more.
ON THE FOUR WINS FOR THE FOOTBALL TEAM LAST SEASON
"We highlighted the improvement in our performance as an aspect of what we bring to the Sun Belt. I watched 10 of the 12 games this year. I perhaps should have left after the third quarter of South Alabama and New Mexico State, but you gotta stay there until the end. Our players did a great and I have a lot of confidence in our coach. I think he has improved the program greatly, and no matter what conference we are affiliated with, I have confidence Coach (Paul) Petrino is going to run a football team that is going compete effectively, strive for excellence and it is going to be a great experience for the student-athletes and it is going to be a great experience for our fans."
DID YOU GUYS SEE THAT? WE WON FOUR GAMES LAST YEAR!!!