According to a report from the FootballScoop and the Idaho Statesman, the University of Idaho is preparing for a return to the Big Sky Conference at the football sub-conference level.
— College Football by SB Nation 🏈 (@SBNationCFB) April 27, 2016
If Idaho does indeed make the move they would be the first school to do so.
A news conference with school president Chuck Staben, athletic director Rob Spear, and football head coach Paul Petrino has been scheduled for Thursday. The Vandals previously played football in the Big Sky from 1963 to ’95, and already are a part of the conference in all other sports.
This move was seemingly put into motion by the Sun Belt Conference’s announcement on March 1st that they would be dropping both Idaho and New Mexico State after the 2017 season. A move that would make Idaho independent once again, the Vandals were independent during the 2013 season before joining the Sun Belt in 2014. The Vandals have until May 4th to accept an offer from the Big Sky.
Since joining the FBS-level in 1996, Idaho has struggled to put together any success averaging 3.7 wins per season. The Vandals best season during that 20-year span came in 1998 when they won 9 games on their way to a Big West title.
In order to be eligible for a return to the FCS-level, Idaho must reduce its scholarships from 85 to 63. The Vandals are hoping that a return to the Big Sky will mean fielding a more competitive team, Idaho won 8 Big Sky titles during its previous tenure in the conference.
Back in January, we devised a fantasy of FBS college football realignment moves and one of our five picks was putting Idaho in the Mountain West after the Sun Belt decided to cut ties with them and New Mexico State.
Apparently the Vandals decided to take it a step further.