Opinion: See you later, Sun Belt Conference

Saturday evening concluded a chapter in the Sun Belt Conference history books. Now, it’s time to look toward the future of the Idaho football team in the FCS.

After the decision to move forward with a 10-team league, Idaho and New Mexico State have both been dropped from the FBS conference.

With the Vandals set to begin Big Sky Conference competition in 2018, all eyes should be on the future. A major part of that future: freshman quarterback Colton Richardson.

Sophomore quarterback Mason Petrino left the game to injury, so Richardson was called upon for the first time this season.

Richardson handled quarterback duties the remainder of the game, and quite frankly kept the game manageable the entire time.

Any collegiate debut is a big moment, and Richardson’s unexpected outing led to the first touchdown of his career.

The situation alone presented adversity. Richardson getting thrown into live game action after the absence of the injured second-string quarterback was never the game plan. But when your number is called, the athlete does what is asked.

Aside from normal jitters and nerves, nothing Richardson did seemed too traumatizing to the Idaho offense. Most of his decisions seemed well-thought-out in his initial collegiate experience.

Prior to Richardson’s debut, the Vandals have undoubtedly struggled to find an offensive spark – several injuries to big-impact players have plagued the Vandals in the closing weeks of the season.

Idaho had a chance as the game neared its end. The early two-touchdown deficit was too much for the Vandals to overcome, but Richardson’s outing should not be defined by the final result.

Despite the occasional errant pass attempt, nothing Richardson did put Idaho in a worse position compared to the stumbling start.

The majority of inexperienced athletes would struggle when thrown into the situation, but Richardson’s ability to keep calm provided Idaho receivers with certain opportunities. The success is a promising sign for the Vandals’ FCS future.

Idaho could not repeat the bowl-bound success from a year ago, but the Big Sky transition will be here before we know it and Richardson will be at the center of the transitional process.

Zack Ozuna can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @OzunaZack21 


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