Did you hear the one about the Vandals?

The role of Nathan Enderle will be played by Michael J. Fox
Part 2 of our WAC football preview is here (remember, we're starting from the bottom), and this time we brought in the big guns. Kevan Lee from OBNUG was kind enough to write this glowing send up of those loveable losers—the University of Idaho Vandals. We're glad that someone out there also thinks that Robb Akey looks like the dad from Family Ties (but with the social graces of the neighbor from Office Space). Adam Korby looks a little like Tina Yothers, too. No?

Robb Akey's mustache has seen a lot of things: the sidelines of Washington State, coaching stops at Northern Arizona and Weber State, and enough Just for Men to drown a horse seven times over. But through the mustache's journey from town to town and Arby's to Arby's, one thing the mustache has yet to see is a WAC win.

Akey and his furry friend failed to earn one last year, losing games to New Mexico State (inexcusable) and Utah State (virtually impossible) along the way to going 0-for-the-conference. The final tally in the first year of the Akey:

  • 0-8 conference record
  • 37 points per game allowed
  • one Boise State "donkeys" reference
  • one 58-14 loss to Boise State
  • 18 instances of throwing hands up in the air as if to say, "What more can I do? Besides teaching fundamentals, I mean."
Yet through it all, one thing has remained clear to Akey. This Vandal team is his family.

“I like the way this family is together at this point in time and that is going to be huge,” Akey said. “We’ve got a family here and that is a great thing."
Forget for a moment the ramifications of such smothering statements (recruits want to hear "We have hot coed girls" not "You're like the son I never had") and imagine what love Akey must have in his heart to desire kinship with this ragamuffin group. The Vandals are one of the most dysfunctional teams in the country, so it takes a big man to love them so much. I don't necessarily mean that as a compliment.

At some point in the evolution of Akey's head coaching tenure, he obviously made the decision to take this family thing and run with it. Was his mustache jealous? Most certainly, but a horse-hair ivory brush fixed that. Still, choosing the family angle is a rather unique approach to an undisciplined, untalented bunch. And it leads to some interesting questions:
  • Can the players call him Papa Akey?
  • Does Adam Korby get the birthright?
  • Who does the chaperoning on dates?
  • In bed by 10:00? Lights out at 11:00?
  • What will he say when Shiloh Keo asks why he looks different than Nathan Enderle?
Family vacation to nowhere
With family in tow, Akey is ready to hit the road and go places in the WAC. Too bad Nathan Enderle hates car rides. The Idaho quarterback-by-default-not-by-choice will take the Vandals as far as they will go this year, and he will do so with a blatant disregard for completion percentage.

Enderle, who is perhaps better known for not being Joey Harrington's little brother, was not particularly good last year, which fit in well with the overall theme of the Vandals. He is nothing if not a team player.

If you ask us, Enderle's problem is his inaccuracy, poor decision-making, and ADHD pocket presence. If you ask Robb Akey, Enderle's problem is not having a mustache.

There. Fixed.

Enderle's inadequacies are too bad because the Vandals have a very good running back behind him. Sophomore Deonte Jackson, heretofore referred to as "the offense," has the potential to be the WAC's top runner this season both because he is talented and because he will get an overwhelming amount of touches. The Vandal skill players are short on skill and long on getting tackled easily, so Jackson's game-breaking ability will be much needed. Yes, I know I just said "game-breaking ability."

It was the mustache's idea to put Idaho State on the schedule
The Vandals are always good for at least one Division I-AA team on the schedule. Goodness, if they weren't, they might never win a game. But whereas most D-1 schools breeze through these cupcakes, the Vandals fight and claw and scratch their way to seven-point wins. And boy are they happy about it.

This year's I-AA opponent is Idaho State; the same Idaho State who will lose to the Broncos by 50 points the week prior. After the Bengals, Idaho gets Western Michigan, Utah State, and San Diego State in what, for any other team, would be a super easy stretch. For the Vandals, it will be a perfect opportunity to show how far they have or haven't come. If they can't win two games out of those four, then they might as well fold the program and let Akey's mustache use the Kibbie Dome as its own, personal bachelor pad. Did someone say Kibbie Dome mustache?

We swear we didn't know there was film in the camera
The Vandals have a few things going for them that are entirely new and foreign. For starters, the coaching staff returns in tact (which may or may not be a good thing). Second, there are some good players on the team in Jackson and Korby. Third, the schedule is incredibly easy. Start printing those "2008 Idaho Vandals: 3-9" T-shirts!

But then again, these are the Vandals we are talking about. And they obviously have serious lapses in judgment.

Might this problem manifest itself at the most inappropriate times on the football field? Of course it will, although hopefully they'll keep their shirts on this time. Idaho is bound to blow it once or twice this season; that's what they do best. But it appears that their strategy is to put themselves in situations where screwing up royally doesn't cost the team in the win column. For instance, Nathan Enderle forgetting what an out route is will probably happen in the San Diego State game, but the chances that the Aztecs take advantage of the mistake will be minimal. Their schedule could seriously save them a game or two.

Of course, they stand no chance of beating the Broncos, Bulldogs, or Wolf Pack. But it is becoming increasingly more apparent that the Vandals are not concerned with competing at the top of the WAC. They are concerned about competing somewhere, anywhere.

And that should be good enough for the mustache to see its first WAC win.

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