With the fall of the WAC as a football conference, the Idaho Vandals are seeking a new affiliation for their football program. That could be as an FBS Independent beginning in 2013.
“If we can get a football schedule put together, we’ll do it,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear told the Idaho Statesman.
According to NCAA rule 126.96.36.199, FBS football teams must schedule 60% of its games against other FBS members. Member institutions must also play five home games against FBS opponents.
The Statesman reports that Idaho currently has one signed contract for a game in 2013 against Northern Illinois. Previous reports and news releases also indicate that Idaho is tentatively slated to play at Ole Miss, Washington State, and Wyoming.
Those contracts are likely held up until the Idaho State Board of Education makes a decision on the Vandals’ conference affiliation. The board is scheduled to meet this week.
Idaho is also looking at several other options:
Idaho has not yet asked the NCAA for a scheduling waiver, but it did talk to the governing body about maintaining FBS status even if the program didn’t compete as a true FBS independent, presumably playing a mix of FBS and Football Championship Subdivision teams.
“We’ve explored a bunch of things with them,” said Spear, who acknowledged that getting games in October and November is the most difficult part of an independent schedule.
Idaho is seeking home-and-home contracts with potential opponents, meaning independence is likely a two-year commitment. The Vandals believe conference realignment is not over yet — and that future moves could leave space for Idaho in an FBS league.
Obviously, Idaho is hoping that they can go independent for a couple of years and then find a new home in a (hopefully) expanding Big East, Mountain West, or Conference USA.
If they can’t find a new FBS conference down the road, Idaho could have to drop down to FCS.