Brian Murphy: Akey enjoying family but missing football

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comSeptember 15, 2013 

For the first time since he was in the fourth grade, 47-year-old Robb Akey is spending the fall without a football team to call his own.

Which isn’t to say Akey — who was fired as Idaho’s head coach last year, eight games into his sixth season in Moscow — hasn’t found a way to be a part of a team.

These players, however, just call him Dad.

“It’s been awesome being able to be a dad. Not coaching, just watching,” Akey said. “This time off, I’ve been able to get reacquainted with the family.”

Jack Akey is a junior at Moscow High, where he plays wide receiver on the football team and point guard on the basketball team. Akey spent the summer following Jack’s Montana-based AAU basketball team from tournament to tournament.

Daniel Akey is a sophomore at Moscow, where he also plays basketball. Akey has spent time golfing with his younger son and helping him with fantasy football.

“You don’t realize how much you miss it until you get to be around it. I thought I’d have time for more fishing trips and golf and things like that. But every time one of those opportunities come about, it means missing one of those things the boys are doing. I already missed 20 years of those things,” Akey said.

“It’s cool to be a part of those things, to see Jack go through his season and seeing it as a dad and not seeing it as a coach. I haven’t done some of those other things. Coaching buddies will say come out to one of our games, spend some time at practice. As much as I want to, I don’t want to steal any time away.”

But Akey, who played at Weber State from 1984-87 and began his coaching career at his alma mater the next season, knows even his boys are eager for him to return to the sidelines.

“They’ve been ready to get me out of here for about six months. A lot of it has been cool, but they’re ready for me to get my tail back to work,” Akey said.

Akey is being paid his base salary of more than $165,000 by Idaho through June 2014. Akey filed a lawsuit against the school in April for “a fair and equitable portion” of the $105,000 he would have made in contracted media revenue had he finished the 2012 season.

He is eager to get back, too. Coaching is what he’s always done. He said he talked with some schools about jobs in the offseason.

“I miss it. I miss it in a big way. It’s been a part of my life forever,” he said. “I do want to be a head coach again. I’m anxious to do that again. If I have to be a coordinator or position coach first, we’ll see how that works itself out. I’m anxious to be able to do it again and get rolling. I want to run a program and have success and get continued success.”

Akey led Idaho to its first bowl game in a decade in 2009, but could not sustain success in Moscow, where he finished with a 20-50 record.

With his boys back in school, Akey is using his time to get an education of his own. A refresher course on coaching and football. It’s home school. Akey records as many games as possible, watches them all and takes plenty of notes. He can’t get enough of football, watching tape from Moscow High, recorded college games every day of the week and NFL games on Sundays.

“I’m a junkie,” he said.

Saturdays, however, have a much different feel. They start with ESPN’s “College GameDay” at 6 a.m. and consist of four or five games. He’s always checking on coaching friends.

The stress is gone.

“The most relaxed I’ve ever been on a Saturday,” Akey said.

He is evaluating everything he did at Idaho — running the program, practice schedules, the style of offense and defense, areas to recruit, recruiting strategies. He is putting his thoughts together on all of it, jotting it all down, formulating a plan for the next opportunity.

Akey is also pondering where it might take him — and considering the possibility that it might take him far from home. His family has lived in the Palouse since 1999, when he began coaching at Washington State. A new opportunity either means packing up the family or moving away. It’s one more reason he’s trying to fill each day with as many “dad moments” as possible.

“I get a little feedback every day — how their practices went, how things are going,” Akey said. “Being away, you miss a lot of little things that are big things. Also I know that’s the way it’s going to be when I get back in the saddle.”

But the saddle is where he wants to be. Building a program. Feeling the pressure on Saturdays. Being back on a football team of his own.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444

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