And so it begins. Idaho coach Paul Petrino is getting his first ride through the guarantee-game gauntlet, one that his predecessors in the Idaho head coach’s headset made many times and one that Petrino is currently scheduled to make several times in the very near future.
Technically, Petrino has already played two guarantee games. Washington State and North Texas were “guarantee” games, paying Idaho a nearly combined $1 Million to play the two games. But for all intents and purposes it’s Idaho’s trip to Ole Miss on Saturday that represents the type of guarantee game Idaho is used to and will be playing many times in upcoming years.
Ole Miss is paying $800,000 to bring the Vandals out for their homecoming, a situation that Petrino sees as a necessity for his program.
“Money, if everybody’s being honest,” Petrino said. “That’s what it’s all about. That helps pay for all the other programs. You need a couple every year to pay your budget. If we’re going to be flat out honest, that’s the most important thing.”
“It’s just something that you go, and you play your heart out and you do everything you can and build a program up that in the next couple of years you knock somebody off and you go down there and try to do it this year. But you have to have a couple of those games just to pay the bills.”
Idaho will have one more money game trip this season — a $950,000 payday with national championship implications at Florida State.
That’ll be fun.
Here are some other notes and quotes from Petrino’s press conference Monday at the Kibbie Dome:
– Senior Taylor Davis is expected to be the starter on Saturday. Both Chad Chalich and Josh McCain are day-to-day this week, Petrino said, but he hopes at least one of those two will be available as back-ups on Saturday.
“If we played today they wouldn’t be playing,” Petrino said.
Chalich injured his throwing shoulder taking a sack at Arkansas State. McCain is still out after injuring his non-throwing shoulder while getting tackled being taken out-of-bounds against Fresno State.
In a worst case scenario, if Davis gets hurt true freshman Matt Linehan’s redshirt would get pulled and he will play, Petrino said.
“It would have to. We talked to Matt about that, it’s actually something his dad had to do his freshman year,” Petrino said. “It’s just something that’d have to be done. We would not like to have to do that, but we’ve gotten Matt a lot of reps, so he’ll be ready to go if that has to happen.”
– Petrino is used to Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and the Rebels, this will be Petrino’s third straight season facing Freeze. While offensive coordinator at Arkansas, Petrino’s Razorbacks team lost to Ole Miss on a last-second field goal in Fayetteville last season, 30-27. Petrino also faced Freeze in 2011 while the offensive coordinator at Illinois and Freeze was the head coach at Arkansas State. That was a 33-15 win for the Illini.
“They’re a good team, they got a lot of speed on offense. Played them a lot of times throughout the years, they’re always a good football team,” Petrino said.
“We just have to go down there and play one play at a time, and compete and have great courage and play our hearts out for sixty minutes and that’s really what we’re stressing.”
“They had a great win (over LSU), coach Freeze has done a great job there. Be a tough game but it’ll be a great opportunity to go down there and play an SEC team. It’ll be a great atmosphere, definitely one of the cooler venues in college football. It’ll be great for our kids to go down there and battle and get better.”
– The offensive line is still banged up with tackle Jesse Davis and guard Dallas Sandberg still being out right now, Petrino said.