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Rob Ackey

The version below is an edited version. Watch the full interview.

Q: You started talking about going to a bowl last summer, and there weren’t a lot of believers and the preseason polls didn’t exactly back you up. What did you know that everyone else didn’t know?
A: I knew this football team was going to be more mature. I knew we were going to be bigger and stronger, and I thought the experience factors and some of the growing pains we’d gone through in our first two seasons were at a point where they had a chance to pay off. They only way it was going to be able to pay off was if somebody gave them the freedom – the license, if you will – to say ‘Hey, it’s okay to expect to have success.’

Q; During the season, was there a key game or pivotal moment that sticks in your mind?
A: There were a few…but probably the thing that told me we were ready was the Colorado State game here in the Dome. That was some uncharted territory for this football team: we’re playing in front of a packed Dome that wasn’t a rival game and it was on national TV. We were both 3-1… We were able to play really well in the second half, we overcame that two-score deficit and went on and won the ballgame. That was the point where I said, ‘now this football team believes it can win.’

Q: Are you surprised by the scope of national attention Idaho has gotten from the Humanitarian Bowl win?
A: We got people’s attention, I will say that. We kept it entertaining, we kept it exciting, and we had a fantastic finish, which probably was fitting for this football team with the way some of wins had come this year. That excitement really built things up and we were the lead story on ESPN, and it’s been called the favorite bowl game of the season, so that’s a great thing.

Q: What has been the impact on recruiting? 
A: In the recruiting sense, I think it really helped solidify the kids that have been committed to us, and that’s been a positive. We’re being received very well – every school we walk into, the kids’ homes we’re walking into that we’re working on closing out – boy, they’re excited and would like to be a part of it [our program.] It [the bowl win] has had a very, very positive influence, and we’re finding ourselves in some battles [for recruits] that we might have a chance to win that we didn’t necessarily have a chance to win before. It’s given us some help in getting built to where we want to be.

Q: How many times have you watched the final drive in the Humanitarian Bowl?
A: Oh, I’ve seen it about three or four times, on purpose, then I’ve been able to see it quite a few other times on ESPN and "Crunch Time" and the different show where it’s been aired. It didn’t take long to watch it either – it’s only 26 seconds.

Q: When Hollywood makes the movie about the Vandals’ season, what actor plays you?
A: [Laughs.] How about Samuel L. Jackson?