As first reported in The Scoop this afternoon and announced officially by the school this afternoon, Idaho has terminated the contract of head coach Robb Akey.
“The President (Duane Nellis) and I believe it is important to make this move now so we can immediately begin the process of hiring a new coach for the 2013 season,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said in a statement. “We appreciate Coach Akey’s enthusiasm and dedication to the University of Idaho but this is the right move at this time.”
In his sixth season as head coach of the Vandals, Akey carried a 20-50 record. Idaho was beaten by Louisiana Tech 70-28 on Saturday night, dropping its record to 1-7 on the season. Akey’s tenure reached a high point in 2009 as he lead Idaho to an 8-5 record and win in the Humanitarian Bowl. The program slipped steadily following that season as Idaho went 6-7 in 2010 and 2-10 last seson.
Idaho’s new head coach steps into a unique and challenging situation. Idaho and New Mexico State were left without a conference home after the WAC dropped football due to the sweeping changes of conference realignment. The Vandals will compete as an FBS independent in 2013; its recently announced schedule includes home dates with Northern Illinois, Temple, Fresno State, New Mexico State and Old Dominion with visits to North Texas, Wyoming, Washington State, Arkansas State, Ole Miss, New Mexico State in a home-and-home agreement and a to-be-determined BCS opponent.
It all adds up to a tough task for a new head coach that inherits a team currently ranked 101st or lower in 12 of the 17 official statistics tracked by the NCAA.
In the meantime, offensive coordinator Jason Gesser will serve as the interim head coach. Gesser played quarterback for Akey at Washington State a decade ago before a brief stint in professional football. In just his second year of coaching at the college level, Gesser was brought in from Eastside High School (WA) to serve as running backs coach in 2011 before being promoted to offensive coordinator this season.