MOSCOW If Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear hasn't bought a lottery ticket in the past couple of months, now might be an opportune time to do so.
That isn't to say that Spear has been lucky in the past half-year, because if anything, he's been one of the most unlucky athletic directors in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
He's had a front row seat as Idaho's football program went from homeless to coachless to seemingly hopeless in a six-month span.
As the weeks went on and the Vandals quickly regressed from mildly competitive into a running joke, Spear's detractors became both numerous and vociferous.
Those critics didn't quiet with the firing of former coach Robb Akey, either.
To the contrary, the grumbles grew louder.
Nearing a boiling point, many (including Idaho tight end Taylor Elmo) chided Spear for pulling the trigger and accused the AD of trying to save his own skin.
As the 2012 season wound down and it became painfully apparent that Idaho was on the fast track to a 1-11 campaign, the athletic director emerged as public enemy No. 1 for disgruntled fans and sports writers (including yours truly).
He was an easy target - a figurehead who, to the untrained eye, appeared out of his depth at a time when the football program was nearing an all-time low, leaving Idaho fans clamoring for a change that would provide strong and decisive leadership.
But as I watched Spear strut through the Kibbie Dome on Wednesday - the proud victor coming off his latest triumph - I couldn't help but admire his resolve.
With the walls seemingly caving in around him, the athletic director confidently delivered not once, but three times over the course of six months.
First, he structured a very manageable 2013 independent schedule that includes home dates with Temple, Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Texas State and Old Dominion.
Next, Spear pulled off perhaps his most impressive coup, hiring Paul Petrino as the Vandals' new head coach.
Petrino, a well-respected offensive mind at all levels of football, is part of the Dennis Erickson coaching tree and could easily have taken an offensive coordinator position at any number of programs in top-tier FBS conferences.
Last but not least, the athletic director followed through on his ultimate goal - landing the Vandals in an FBS conference.
That alone has reserved a seat for Idaho at a very lucrative four-team playoff table that is expected to divvy up several hundred million dollars in revenue amongst its 130 or so FBS members.
Even for this self-admitted Big Sky apologist, it's hard to argue that Spear didn't make the right decision in securing the Vandals a place in the Sun Belt Conference.
In fact, I'll take it one step further and say that Spear made, without a doubt, the best decision for the Vandals as they begin the long road of rebuilding their reputation as a viable FBS school.
And he did it only having to construct one schedule as an independent football program.
That, in of itself, is an eye-opening achievement and should be recognized as one.
While the Vandals' return to viability hinges largely on the performance of the football team, administratively, Spear has done his job to the fullest.
By putting several winnable games on the schedule, hiring a coach who knows what success feels like at the FBS level and finding the Vandals a stable home in college football's upper echelon, Spear has done everything in his power to put Idaho's football program in a position to be successful.
Make no mistake, there have been some pretty mean things said about Idaho's athletic director - especially in this column - but when a man overcomes the obstacles he has in the last year, you show up, shake his hand, look him in the eye and say job well done.
Of course, Spear doesn't have to buy a lottery ticket - however, with the roll he's on, it certainly couldn't hurt to try his luck.