Over the next two weeks, the Idaho State football team will play two Mountain West schools, hauling in over $500,000.
Idaho State will make $280,000 for playing in Logan Thursday night and will rail in another $300,000 for traveling to Nevada the following week.
“I love it, let’s go,” said head coach Rob Phenicie. “We are going to give our kids a chance. It’s a stage for them. We are going to have fun. I’m fired up.”
Former head coach, Mike Kramer publicly expressed his displeasure of playing FBS schools, citing how the Colorado and Oregon State games last season would have been like Pac-12 schools playing NFL teams.
An issue that comes with the money games is the potential of injury, which became a reality last season, as following the Oregon State game, the Bengals offensive line was banged up for the remainder of the year.
“We are ready for the competition,” said wide receiver Hagen Graves. “It’s going to be a fun environment. FBS games are always fun, they always bring a lot of people no matter what the games is.”
The Idaho State board of Education puts a cap on how much money is given to the athletic department, meaning that Boise State and University of Idaho, since they are both public schools, get the same amount of funding from the state as ISU does. The difference is Boise State and the University of Idaho are both currently FBS schools, which typically involves a higher donation from boosters. The Vandals will, however, drop down to the FCS to compete in the Big Sky next season.
The University of Idaho has played 12 Power Five schools since 2009. Idaho State has played nine. Big names on the Vandals schedule since that time have been road games to Nebraska, Florida, Florida State, Auburn and USC.
Since Idaho State Athletic Director, Jeff Tingey took over in 2009, Idaho State has played two money games per-season and typically play one Power Five school every year.
In 2009, the Bengals played at Arizona State and Oklahoma; and in 2010 Idaho State traveled to Georgia before going to Washington State and Nebraska in 2011 and 2012. Idaho State also traveled to Washington and Utah in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and ’14 and played two Pac-12 schools last year in Colorado and Oregon State.
“A lot of the teams we’ve played they haven’t taken us lightly,” Graves said. “They come out fired up no matter what because it’s game day.”
The Bengals are 0-14 since 2009 in games against FBS schools and have lost by a combined score of 885-148. The closest Idaho State has come to winning one of these games was in 2014 when the Bengals fell to Utah State by 20.
Phenicie said that the team treated this week as if it’s a home game, as the team will bus the 90-minute drive to Logan the day of the game.
“They are a good team, they have some good players,” said defensive lineman JonRhyeem Peoples. “It’s going to be physical fight between both of us. Play as hard as we can and hope for the best.”
The Bengals will have the advantage of a longer week as the Aggies did not play until last Friday night, giving ISU an extra day of recovery.
“Their recovery is a little bit shorter than ours,” Phenicie. “We have an idea of what they are going to do offensively, we pretty much know what they are going to do defensively because we did our summer study on them.”
The money games continue next season, as Idaho State plans to play UC Berkeley in exchange for over $625,000.