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Debate continues over Idaho’s rejection of big-time college football

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Idaho v Colorado State
Idaho defensive lineman Tueni Lupeamanu (44) celebrates a defensive stop against Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22.
(Loren Orr / Getty Images)

In a time when college football has been overtaken by multimillion-dollar coaching contracts and lavish training facilities, emotions continue to run high concerning Idaho’s decision to take a less-expensive route.

Vandals quarterback Matt Linehan threw himself into the middle of the debate by calling the university’s president “tone deaf” for moving the team to a lower level of NCAA play in coming seasons.

Linehan made his critical statement immediately after the team finished a 9-4 season with a 61-50 victory over Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Thursday night.

Soon after, Linehan backed away from the comment.

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“Emotions run high at the end of a game like that,” he told reporters later. “I just got caught up in the moment.”

The quarterback, who passed for 381 yards and four touchdowns, said he planned to apologize to university President Chuck Staben.

The Vandals will make the unusual move from the Football Bowl Subdivision down to the Football Championship Subdivision after the 2017 season.

Traditionally, schools have fought to go the opposite direction, lured by the glamour of the high-profile FBS.

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But Idaho administrators have expressed concern about the expense of competing against larger schools and the uncertainty of conference alignments at the NCAA’s highest level.

Other members of the Idaho team downplayed the impending move. Coach Paul Petrino said “I only control what I control.” Receiver Isaiah Saunders insisted that he did not care where the Vandals play in the future.

“FBS, FCS, NAIA – it don’t matter,” he said. “We’re still going to dominate.”

david.wharton@latimes.com

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