1957 – Cracks in the Pacific Coast Conference

Idaho lost 9-6

Idaho lost 9-6

The year started of with a lot of excitement on the west coast.  In January the conference voted to uphold penalties against five of its members of infractions.  In addition, the round robin football scheduling rule that applied to everyone but Idaho was upheld against with wishes of the four largest schools in the conference. Why would Idaho vote to keep enforcing a rule that didn’t apply to itself?

Both issues reappeared in May of the year and again both issues were close 5-4 votes with the same outcome and the same schools on each side.  The chasm between the large and small schools continued to grow.

The same issues lingered into the winter.  Another meeting of the presidents was called for as it appeared the conference was headed for a breakup.  By December the issues had led USC, UCLA, and California to withdraw from the Conference.  Washington looked as though they were going to withdraw as well.  The conference appeared to be crumbling.

Idaho vs College of the Pacific program

Idaho vs College of the Pacific program

Washington’s impending withdrawal did not sit well with the other northwest institutions.  Oregon State’s always outspoken president Strand took the opportunity to speak his mind to Washington’s president in a letter dated December 30.  His letter, perhaps, explains why Idaho aligned itself with the other Northwest schools in voting. In the letter President Strand proves that Oregon State was a friend to Idaho in the PCC, while Washington was clearly against the Vandals.  In his letter to Washington he says:

Another thing, which sometimes we’re inclined to forget, is that athletic fortunes in football rise and fall.  But we have to carry on in the lean years as well as in the flush ones. Washington has been unable to find another Dobie and it is unlikely that any of us can bring about the conditions necessary for sustained success.  Oregon State has done far better during the last three years than ever before, but we are not kidding ourselves about continuing very long at our present level.  Personally, I would hate to see ourselves, or anybody else, found an Oklahoma U dynasty on the Pacific Coast. It is unhealthy, unwise, and self defeating.

It seems obvious that the main thought behind Washington’s action is to drop relations with the other northern institutions, except when it is to your convenience to recognize us in your schedules, and enter the so-called big five,  namely Washington and the four California schools…In the long run don’t your fortunes lie with your friends in the north?…Incidentally, out of this consideration, any move to drop Idaho and force that institution into some other alignment would be short-sighted. Idaho belongs in the northern division and I hope it stays…Everything in Los Angeles is not beer and skittles, as indicated above. The two institutions there may be out of the conference but they’re not out of the woods.

Although the future looked bleak, there was some good news for Vandal fans.  Star lineman Jerry Kramer was courted by several professional squads.  He would eventually be drafted by the Green Bay Packers and continues to be known as perhaps the greatest Vandal of all time.  Kramer helped the Vandals to a 4-4-1 record, the best record since 1952.  Idaho’s success made them a candidate for the Sun Bowl although they were not chosen in the end.

Idaho taking on Oregon

Idaho taking on Oregon

Idaho taking on Montana

Idaho taking on Montana

The annual game in Boise was against the Utah Utes.  Idaho won the game, making it two in a row, and three out of four wins against the Utes.  The Utah paper said “Idaho out-played, out-coached, and out-fought Utah this time.  It’s getting to be a habit!”

1957 schedule poster

1957 schedule poster

Here’s some video of Idaho taking on Oregon State

and against WSU

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About gomightyvandals

A sports fan interested in the history of Vandal Athletics
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