It was a rocky weekend for the University of Idaho Vandals.
Friday, the Vandals announced their plans for the football team to leave the Western Athletic Conference for the 2013 season with all other sports joining the Big Sky Conference in 2014. Saturday, they were defeated by Louisiana Tech, 70-to-28. And on Sunday, Robb Akey was fired from his head coach position in which he amassed a record of 20 and 50.
"It was shortly after the game on Saturday night that I had communications with the president of the university, Duane Nellis, and we made that decision," said Vandal Athletic Director Rob Spear.
Akey had coached the Vandals since 2007, and his contract goes through the 2014 season. His contract includes a base salary of more than $165,000, which the U of I will have to pay still. The athletic department is willing to take that blow to its budget in hopes of changing the direction of the program.
"Well it's all about performance on the football field," said Spear. "You look at over the last 20 games, we've lost 17 of those football games."
Coach Akey did some nice things for the Vandals, but at the end of the day, this is a business and it's all about putting fans in these seats."
Taking over for Akey is Jason Gesser, the Vandal's first-year offensive coordinator.
"In any business anywhere, you're going to get close to people in your business," said Gesser. "You're going to develop friendships, you're going to develop bonds. And this one a little bit more because of the fact of how much sheer time you spend with each other."
All emotions aside, he understands why the university made the decision.
"It's something about money, it's something about success," said Gesser. "And when you chose to get into the profession, when you chose to take this road, you gotta' realize that."
The Vandals will not have a home conference after this season, but Spear doesn't think that will make finding a replacement any more challenging.
"I think there's a great opportunity here to come in, make a difference, and turn the program around," said Spear. "There are a lot of people willing to take on that challenge."
According to the Vandals Athletic Department, the search for a permanent head coach will begin right away. Spear said that he has a list of people in mind, but will not release any specific names. We'll have more from Interim head coach Jason Gesser and how he and the team took the news of Akey's firing coming up later on in sports.