With actual football season right around the corner we get to take just a bit of a break from the conference re-alignment chatter and all of the uncertainty for one thing that we know for sure: That the Idaho Vandals will be playing football in the WAC in 2012.
All seven football playing members in the conference were present at the Orleans hotel in Las Vegas, as well as Interim WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd who had a lot of interesting things to say about the future of the Conference. (I guess we can’t ENTIRELY get away from it, can we?)
Among the zingers was a definitive statement that the WAC would NOT be a football playing conference in 2013 and is instead looking to salvage a future as a non-football member. However, Hurd did make comments about the WAC possibly returning as a football conference in 2014 or 2015. Apparently there were also rumblings around the room that both Seattle and Denver were exploring the possibility of adding football programs as well, but those discussions would be very preliminary. Expect an official announcement within the next couple of weeks.
How would all of that affect Idaho? We will be addressing that next week, so look out for our piece on Idaho’s immediate football and athletic future.
As for actually getting down to business for Idaho football in 2012, Coach Robb Akey, CB Aaron Grymes and WR Mike Scott represented the Vandals down in Las Vegas at the WAC Media event.
Here are the highlights of what Robb Akey and the players had to down in Vegas, with a link to the video at the bottom:
On Ken McRoyal:
- Robb Akey: Our summer didn’t get off to a very good start as a family…that was something that had a great impact on our football team, very emotional. I think our guys been able to come together and help to grow over that. There’s a lot that we hope to see get done in Kenny’s memory.
- Mike Scott: Definitely not an easy situation to deal with. Getting to know this guy and getting so close to him and all of a sudden in a blink of an eye, he’s gone. Basically all we can do is use this situation to bring us together as a team, as close family. We would never hope like anything like this would ever be the reason why we became closer. For whatever reason it happened, and it ended up bringing us tight knit.
- Aaron Grymes: It was devastating to hear at first. We came together strongly, even though we were far apart at the time. A lot of us got down there for the funeral. I think we’ve turned it around, using it in a positive way, for motivation. It’s still sad to think about, but we know he is still here in spirit and still here with us
The McRoyal comments was the only time that Scott and Grymes chimed in. After that, one reporter asked Akey about 2012 being a bounce back year, mentioning that Idaho had a “favorable schedule.” Akey interjected in a joking matter with “Can I see the schedule you got in front of you?” In terms of making 2012 a bounce back year it had to be mentioned that the last two seasons have been marred with a gut wrenching amount of one possession losses. Akey went on to address that
“The bowl game season, that was a season we found a way to win games at the end of games that year. There were a number of games that came down to one or two plays and we made the play late in the ball game. The following year, we were one snap away, the outcome of one play away from back to back bowl seasons at the University of Idaho.”
“Last year was the direct opposite of that bowl team. We didn’t find ways to get the play made when we needed to. Last year that was miserable, ugly finishing. That’s how close it is, that’s how fine a line winning and not winning is.”
On the quarterback situation there are a few bits of information of note. Akey said he had hoped to see quarterback separation by the end of spring, but that neither Dominique Blackman nor Taylor Davis were able to go head and shoulders above the other. Instead, he is hoping that that separation happens by the third scrimmage of the fall.
“Sitting in that room with them and seeing what they can do better we see some great growth with both of them. Hopefully over the summer the need for some of that extra leadership has helped one of those guys a little bit more. And if hasn’t then it’s something that we’re going to get structured in fall camp. I want to see that decision be made sooner than later but I need to see some separation take place.”
We saved the best for last. Here are the Akey-isms that we couldn’t do justice by paraphrasing.
On Idaho’s future regarding conferences:
“We’re the red-headed step child. Nobody seems to want the Vandals right now. So I promise you that’s got a chip on my shoulder and I think it irritates these guys too. We want that last conference championship, that’s something that means a lot to us. If we’re the last champion that puts us right there on top.”
On the big boys up front:
“We need to get the offensive line solidified. We’d have seen a little more of that had those kids all been able to go through spring practice. We need to get the fat five formulated here as we get in to fall camp.”
On Ray Guy award pre-season watch list punter Bobby Cowan:
“I can’t say enough about what Bobby Cowan means to this football team. Hopefully we never get to see his tail play. If he does he gives us the opportunity to have field position. He can bang that football.”