In football, a big key to success is getting that initial first down to build some momentum.

The College of Idaho got its first first-down Tuesday when Frontier Conference commissioner Kent Paulson announced that the league has invited the Coyotes to become a football-only member, beginning in the fall of 2014.

“Big relief,” said C of I athletic director Marty Holly, adding that the Frontier Conference rolled out the red carpet for himself and C of I president Marv Henberg when they visited earlier this month to formally apply in person as a football-only member to the league.

“They unanimously gave us an invitation for starting in the 2014 season,” Holly said. “Really, President Henberg did all this, he deserves the credit.”

“With everything in order, they can start making the schedule for (2014), and really makes us (say), ‘Hey, you’re on the schedule in ‘14,’ … time to go. And we’re ready for it,” Holly added.

There was plenty to like about the addition of the Coyotes, according to Paulson.

“We’re thoroughly impressed with the academics of the school and the profile of students C of I attracts,” Paulson said.

Geography, and the chance to fill their football league, proved important factors, too. The league not only announced the addition of the C of I, but that Dickinson State (N.D.) will become a full Frontier Conference member and Southern Oregon will become a football-only member beginning this fall.

“If we can hand (coaches) just about a ready-made schedule with conference games on it, that’s got to be a win-win for all of us,” Paulson said.

Previously the league — made up of Eastern Oregon and Montana schools Rocky Mountain, Carroll College, Montana State-Northern, Montana Tech and University of Montana-Western — played a double round-robin schedule each season.

Paulson said that the league never thought about requiring membership in all sports by the Coyotes, and adds that the C of I has been on the league’s radar for football for some time — likely from the time members of the C of I’s football feasibility committee visited Carroll College in the fall of 2007.

Paulson said that the next step is to include the C of I on the Frontier Conference website, to get Henberg and Holly involved in the league’s communication network and ensure that “in two years, when that ball is put on the tee, they’ll really feel like they’ve been in the conference for the two years prior.”

Paulson adds: “that’s going to be an exciting day for the Purple coming out on the field at Simplot Stadium, and we’re going to be there.”

That’s one first down, down, for the Coyotes.

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