The University of Idaho is revisiting its past — yet stepping into an uncertain future.Most of the Vandals’ athletic programs appear to be headed back to the Big Sky Conference, their home from 1963 to 1996. The football program, meanwhile, is poised to compete as an independent, a team without a league. The State Board of Education endorsed both potential moves last week.
The changes — both triggered by the implosion of the Western Athletic Conference, the Vandals’ current home — seem like a mixed bag. A return to the Big Sky makes perfect sense: a chance to compete with regional rivals with comparable enrollment and facilities. The phrase “peer institution” gets applied a lot in academic circles; it applies here as well.
Playing football as an independent seems like a Hail Mary. Without a conference, finding opponents poses a huge challenge. It’s a tough task for Brigham Young University — a school that boasts a national fan base, a 63,000-seat home stadium and a long winning tradition. It figures to be an even more imposing task in Moscow.
U of I officials say they will play as an independent for no more than two years while looking for a conference. It looks like a long two years — that could end with another reunion with the Big Sky.
“Our View” is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board.