If you can imagine a time when college football didn’t dominate television on a fall Saturday afternoon then you have a good imagination. In 1951 colleges were still trying to decide what to do with the new technology. Would television kill attendance? It was thought that would be the case. The PCC released a report in 1951 that seemed to support the broadcasting of only the most popular games. In a “Back to the Future” type environment, the Justice Department was even looking into anti-trust issues regarding the NCAA and the broadcasting of football.
Television was a hot issue for all schools in the league including Idaho. But, competition in
the league was a bigger deal. It was becoming increasingly difficult for the small schools (Oregon, Oregon State, Washington State, and Idaho) to keep up with the big schools. On proposal had league dividing into divisions for football as it had for basketball so that there could be a conference championship game to determine the Rose Bowl representative. Washington, a big school, rejected the idea of being included in a division with the smaller conference members.
In an action unfathomable today, there was even talk, presumably initiated by the small schools, of abandoning the Rose Bowl all together. The conference as a whole had been unable to compete with the Big Ten, losing five in a row. Luckily for the PCC, the conference decided to keep its association with the historic game.
In typical Idaho fashion, coach Dixie Howell was chased out of town and new coach Babe Curfman was brought in. Babe’s team would do no better than Dixie’s team, finishing a woeful 2-7 without a conference victory. The Vandals did, however, still beat Montana.
On Thanksgiving in Salt Lake City the Vandals battled the Utes but fell by a score of 40-19. Over 11,000 fans packed the stadium to see Utah rout the Vandals.