The Idaho Vandals are officially an independent football program. And now they have the schedule to prove it.
Idaho on Friday announced its 2013 schedule, its first as a Football Bowl Subdivision independent. The WAC will not sponsor football next season and no league has invited the Vandals, leaving Athletic Director Rob Spear scrambling to fill out a 12-game schedule.
It was really important that we balance the schedule financially and competitively, he said.
Idaho will host Northern Illinois, Temple, Fresno State, New Mexico State and Old Dominion, satisfying NCAA requirements for five home games. Spear said each game is part of a home-and-home deal.
Idaho will collect more than $2.3 million for playing BCS-conference schools Washington State ($550,000), Mississippi State ($850,000) and an unknown opponent ($950,000). Spear said that opponent will be announced later, but that its not Boise State, which joins the Big East next year.
Well try to find a conference home every year. Thats the No. 1 priority for us. Well stay the course and find a conference home as soon as we can, Spear said. Right now, were an FBS institution and we plan on continuing that down the road.
Idaho will have a backup agreement with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Spear said, and is exploring TV options with rights-holder Learfield Sports Properties.
Idaho, a charter member of the Big Sky, will return to the league in July 2014. The Vandals were members of the conference from 1963 to 1996.
Were excited about this association back with the Big Sky Conference, President Duane Nellis said. We have many historic rivalries within the Big Sky Conference, some going back over 100 years.
The Big Sky membership for non-football sports in 2014 is Idaho, Idaho State, Eastern Washington, Montana, Montana State, North Dakota, Northern Arizona, Northern Colorado, Portland State, Sacramento State, Southern Utah and Weber State.
Idaho will not make the move until 2014 to take advantage of additional revenue distribution from the WAC due to departing members, Spear said.
Our current membership cant wait to begin renewing old rivalries and developing new relationships with the Vandals, Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton said in a statement.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph
2013 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Aug. 31: at North Texas
Sept. 7: at Wyoming
Sept. 14: vs. Northern Illinois
Sept. 21: at Washington State
Sept. 28: vs. Temple
Oct. 5: vs. Fresno State
Oct. 12: at Arkansas State
Oct. 26: at Mississippi
Nov. 2: vs. New Mexico State
Nov. 9: vs. Old Dominion
Nov. 23: at BCS opponent
Nov. 30: at New Mexico State