Idaho State Football in Limbo Again
Retired or Fired, either way Mike Kramer is out as head football coach at Idaho State. He was 18-50 in six seasons enough reason to believe he might be in trouble but long time ISU faithful found the move shocking. The official word is Kramer retired but Athletic Director Jeff Tingey said “No” when asked if Kramer would have been back had he not retired. In short Idaho State continues to baffle me as to why they can not put together a successful football program.
I’ve struggle with this thought since 1968. It was a different time in my life. A time for change and challenge and so I made a decision to leave Connecticut for Idaho to play football in Pocatello for the Idaho State Bengals of the Big Sky Conference.
I was an East coast brat who thought the world revolved around the Tri-State Metro of New York-Connecticut-New Jersey. By the time we landed in a cow pasture outside of Pocatello I was sure I had made a mistake.
However football was the common denominator in my life and as I suited up for my first Idaho State practice I felt at home but I realized I was no longer the best player on the field. As a freshman defensive back I got to cover an All Big sky receiver named Ed Bell everyday in practice. Bell once told me I was “pretty good” the highlight of my freshman year. Bell went on to play for the NY Jets and with Joe Namath at quarterback and Eddie at wide receiver they beat the Baltimore Colts 16-0 in Super Bowl III.
Idaho State had that caliber of player but even then we struggled to dominate. Knee injuries cut my career short but I grew to love Idaho(even Pocatello) married an Idaho native and call Boise home. I’ve done play by play for Boise State, Idaho State and the Idaho Vandals and I’ve seen all three teams struggle and succeed. Through it all the one thing I have trouble processing is why Idaho State football seems to be consistently mediocre.
The Big Sky is a great conference with long time members like Montana, Eastern Washington, Montana State, Weber State and Northern Arizona and now of course Idaho again in 2018. Montana and Eastern Washington have emerged the perennial powers but I’ve always felt Idaho State should be right there as well.
Folks may still call Holt Arena a glorified potato shed but it’s a fun place to play and should be a huge home advantage for the Bengals just as the Blue is for Boise State. The difference might well be attitude!
Tingey said a change in the program was needed and that leadership was at the forefront of a meeting between he and Kramer. The problem is, while the football leadership has changed many times in Pocatello, the attitude remains the same.
I wish I could wave a magic wand to change attitude because ISU has produced some great individual players but the sum of the total has been mediocrity.
To me it’s all about changing the culture from we’d like to win…to how much are we going to win by? That starts with the administration and trickles down to coaches, players and fans. Maybe that’s where the real changes need to begin.