Erickson's abrupt departure brings anger to Idaho

Updated: December 11, 2006, 9:12 PM ET
Associated Press

MOSCOW, Idaho -- Ho, hum, another Christmas party, another head coach heading out the door.

That was how players responded to what Idaho coach Dennis Erickson said Sunday at a team meeting before he boarded a private jet to Phoenix for the official announcement that he would become head coach at Arizona State -- until he left the room.

"We've all been through it before," junior running back Jayson Bird told The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., "so we just stood there and it was kind of dull when he [Erickson] talked.

"He said, 'it's all about you guys, not who is coaching you.' Damn right, I guess. Nobody really got fired up until after he left."

After Erickson left the room, senior-to-be linebacker David Vobora "got up and said, 'it is about us, not them,' so it's kind of the theme," Bird said.

"It doesn't really matter who the coaches are -- well, it does -- but we're the reason they have jobs," he added. "If they're going to do that and play the politics game, it's going to be hard for us to trust our next coach because we've been [messed with] a couple of times, so it's hard to deal with."

"There was some tension in the air," said quarterback Brian Nooy, one of the few players who was brought to Moscow by Erickson after the coach arrived following the signing deadline last year. "There was a lot of disappointment throughout the team because everybody was excited about what we have next year and what we could do. It's one of those deals where we have to put it behind us and look forward."

"He said, 'it's all about you guys, not who is coaching you.' Damn right, I guess. Nobody really got fired up until after he left."
-- Idaho running back Jayson Bird

Athletic director Rob Spears said the comments to him had generally been "very angry [about Erickson leaving] and very supportive of the program. I don't know if you could say it will galvanize us, but I do think we have a chance to turn a negative into a positive."

Spears would not give a timetable for the Vandals' third search for a football coach in four years.

"I'm going to find somebody that not only understands Idaho but appreciates the university and what a fine institution we have," he said. "It's going to be done when it's done."

Whoever takes the job will face some skeptical players.

"It was kind of weird with Erickson talking and telling us he thinks he can win a national championship at Arizona State. It makes us realize the doubt he had in us," Bird said. "I guess he has to do what he has to do. We just didn't expect it, but it's certainly something we can get over.

"Hopefully they can get a guy in here that genuinely cares about us and wants to build a program. The hardest thing is to find a guy that isn't going to use us and not use the school as a stepping stone."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press