Idaho has every right to be on cloud nine after demolishing Colorado State in a not all that close 61-50 victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Vandals won their second game against a Mountain West foe and that gave head coach Paul Petrino some juice in his post-game press conference.
Paul Petrino on making statement to college football today: "We went 2-0 in the Mountain West. We'd look pretty good in that conference."— Dugar, Michael-Shawn (@MikeDugar) December 23, 2016
Thumping your chest against a UNLV team that was not bowl eligible is one thing, and yes they beat a solid Rams team but with a month to prepare. Yet, they would not have that much time to get ready, however the other side they likely would not play this game on an ice rink.
Our good pal, Chris Hondros, wrote some good points on why Idaho in the Mountain West could be a disaster. Espcially if the Vandals would be in the Mountain Division.
Replace UNLV because they are no-longer non-conference and within the Mountain Division, you would have to contend with BSU, Air Force, New Mexico, Wyoming, CSU and Utah State. That’s a maximum of 2 wins probably. Looking at it from that perspective, and some combo of the Nevada or California schools (or Hawaii), Idaho would probably get 4 wins maximum within the conference. Now taking the rest of their current non-conference schedule (Montana State, Washington, Washington State), that would have put them at 5-7 on the season, missing out on a bowl game.
However, put them in the West Division (assuming you have a NMSU or UTEP or other show up in the East), you now have a West Division of Nevada, UNLV, Hawaii, SJSU, Fresno, SDSU to contend with. At best you would have 4 wins in this division, and maybe 1-2 against Mountain Division teams, and combine that with their non-conference record and you have a 7-5 or 6-6 bowl team.
It does depend on who is added but odds are Idaho would be put in the Mountain Division and be lucky to get a few wins in league play every year, and yes playing in the West is easier, right now.
The West is getting stronger with UNLV and Hawaii improving, San Diego State shows no signs of slowing down and then Fresno State, Nevada and San Jose State have new coaches and perhaps also become a bowl-eligible team sooner than later.
Also, let us remind Petrino that back in 2012 Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson publicly said that Idaho, and New Mexico State, were not what the league was looking for.
This really was a very good win for Idaho to beat a Colorado State team that ended the season very well, but this is all moot as Idaho is heading to the FCS starting in 2018.