1954 – Dawn of the Stahley Era

Idaho Vandals at Washington State Cougars - Oct 23, 1954

Idaho Vandals at Washington State Cougars – Oct 23, 1954

Skip Stahley took the helm of Vandal football in February of 1954.  After a dreadful 1953 campaign that included only one win, Stahley lead the Vandals to four victories in 1954 including a win over bitter rival Washington State. The victory, the first in nearly 30 years over the Cougs, was met with such joy that Stahley received votes for governor.  Stahley came to Idaho from the NFLwhere he was the backfield coach for the Chicago Cardinals.  At this time, WSU was the major rivalry game.  12,000 fans packed into Rogers Stadium to see Idaho outclass WSU.  Coach Stahley was quoted as saying “that game made a football team out of Idaho” rather than praising the performance of any single individual.  Regardless of the results of the rest of the season, 1954 was considered a success because of the victory over WSU.

1954WinIdaho also beat southern rival Utah in 1954.  A big crowd of 14,000 saw Idaho escape Salt Lake with a 1 point victory.  Once again the Utah newspapers were less than flattering to the Vandals saying Idaho was “not too good” and calling the game “a great victory” for Idaho and a “miserable defeat” for Utah.

Idaho beats WSC

Idaho beats WSC

1954 also saw the birth of the athletic department at Idaho.  For the first time athletics would have the status of being its own department.  Bob Gibb was named to head the new department and replaced Gale Mix who was the athletics manager while athletics was under the control of the ASUI.


Rafe Gibbs had a great way of describing the 1954 victory over Washington State and the atmosphere in Moscow at the time.


Idaho’s final game of the season – a contest against the Cougars of Brigham Young was to be held in Boise.  In an environment much different than what would be expected today, the City of Boise welcomed the Vandals with a parade, a pep rally, a dinner, and a dance.  The Vandals gave the Boise faithful a good show resulting in a 7-0 victory over BYU.

By Idaho standards 1954 was a successful year.  Skip Stahley would go on to be a popular and successful coach, again by Idaho standards.

Idaho lost to OSU 13-0

Idaho lost to OSU 13-0

Idaho Statesman sports page 1954

When is the last time Idaho held a headline in the Idaho Statesman over a Boise State game?

Idaho Statesman Society Page 1954

The Idaho game in Boise was only one of many social events taking place for alumni and boosters.

1954 schedule poster

1954 schedule poster

Here’s video of Idaho’s loss at Arizona.

and the loss against Oregon State

and against WSU


About gomightyvandals

A sports fan interested in the history of Vandal Athletics
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