It has not been a smooth road for the Idaho football team and coach Paul Petrino in the first month of the season after a fall camp that produced headlines for the wrong reasons.
Idaho’s August included an on-campus theft that led to one player’s dismissal and an incident where a reporter alleged that Petrino threatened him. The Vandals are off to a 1-3 start, posters calling for Petrino’s firing were seen around the Moscow campus last week, and on Monday, another anonymous note went viral, enough so to create a players-only meeting.
Members of the football team, athletic department and media received an email from a person stating they were part of the football team, which included allegations of consistent demeaning language and overstepping NCAA practice rules by holding more two-a-days than are allowed. It was signed “Joe Adams,” though no player on the team has that name.
“I know I come to work every day and work as hard as I can — I know we’ve never broken any NCAA rules, we had two days of two-a-days this last fall camp,” Petrino said Tuesday.
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Petrino noted that his players “know I have their back” and pointed to an email that was sent by senior offensive lineman Dallas Sandberg in response that denied the charges, along with about 50 players’ signatures that said “we stand behind our coaches 100 percent.”
Idaho also said it would investigate, saying in a statement, “the welfare of our students and student-athletes is our primary concern and as such, the university takes these allegations very seriously.”
“One of the best things is our players addressed it. They said it’s someone trying to tear us apart, someone that has their own agenda,” Petrino said. “If you read the letter close, you can tell it’s someone that never played football before.”
Petrino said the response showed his team’s leadership and hopes it can be a rallying point when the Vandals play at Arkansas State at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Petrino said sophomore quarterback Matt Linehan is “questionable” for the game against the Red Wolves with an ankle injury that has lingered the past two weeks. Linehan is 19th nationally with 1,109 passing yards, eighth with 25.3 completions per game and 24th with a 67.8 completion percentage. If he can’t play, redshirt freshman Jake Luton will start.