Cal Poly

Walsh says he isn’t in running for Idaho job

Cal Poly football head coach Tim Walsh said he has not interviewed for the vacant head coaching position at Idaho, indicating he is not in the running for the job despite an online report that the Vandals athletic director planned to reach out to him. 

“The bottom line thing is this is where I’d like to be,” said Walsh, whose No. 12 Mustangs (9-2) visit No. 5 Sam Houston State (8-3) in the second round of the FCS playoffs Saturday. “We have a great opportunity. Next year, we’re the team that has 18 returning starters. So, I feel pretty good about where we are.”

Citing unnamed sources, rumor football website reported last week that Idaho athletic director Rob Spear was interested in a group that included Walsh, Wyoming assistant and former Vandals head coach Chris Tormey and Montana State coach Rob Ash.

Tormey, who went 32-23 in five seasons at Idaho from 1995 to 1999, has been revealed as one of five finalists interviewing face-to-face this week. 

After pursuing the job before fired sixth-year head coach Robb Akey eventually got it in 2007, Walsh said he will not interview and has not had contact with Idaho. 

“I interviewed for that job five years ago,” Walsh said. “If anybody wanted to give me a call, they’d give me a call.”

Walsh, 57, is in his fourth season at Cal Poly, where he has a 26-17 overall record. The Mustangs are in the playoffs for the first time under his watch and first since 2008. They also had their first upset over an FBS team under Walsh this season, a 24-22 victory at Wyoming in September. 

Walsh was also recently named one of 20 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award for FCS coach of the year and is in the running for Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, an award partially determined by online fan voting that awards $50,000 in charitable donations and $20,000 in scholarship grants for the winner. 

Before coming to San Luis Obispo, Walsh was the head coach at Portland State from 1993-2006, guiding the Vikings during a transition from Division II to what was then Division I-AA and giving him the experience in the Northwest that Idaho would covet. 

Between FCS stops, he spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator at FBS Army before replacing current Black Knights head coach Rich Ellerson when Ellerson left Cal Poly for West Point after the 2008 season.

Walsh made $168,473 in his first season in San Luis Obispo, and, according to the Sacramento Bee’s state pay database, his compensation increased to more than $195,000 in 2011. 

At the FBS level, Akey was making a base salary of $165,796.80, but increasing annual media payments pushed his total compensation to more than $375,000 per year, according to information from the university.

Though the job would provide Walsh with a raise, the future of the Vandals is uncertain. After the Western Athletic Conference ceases to be a football conference at the end of this season, Idaho will play as an independent. 

There have also been calls for the Vandals to move back down to the FCS level, which they left after 1995. The Big Sky Conference has said it would welcome Idaho.

Should all things become equal and Walsh were offered the job, the California native would have to make a decision between life in San Luis Obispo and Moscow, Idaho.  

“Every coach in the country,” Walsh said, “if you get phone calls, you’re going to listen to them. And it doesn’t mean rumors are true or false. Really, it’s a compliment to what our guys do.”