Idaho vs WSU programIn 1950 Idaho was entering one of its periodical periods of de-emphasizing football.  Although president Buchanan would deny that the Vandal football program was being de-emphasized, it was in fact just that.  Voluntarily cancelling conference games against California and USC could not be interpreted as anything but a de-emphasis of the Vandal football program.  In a sick twist of fate, one of the reasons given for the cancellation of the California games was that Idaho wanted to play more games against teams from neighboring states, mainly future Pac-12 member Utah!  Idaho’s yearly contest against the Utes was played in Boise and was a very big deal for all parties.  In fact, over 12,000 fans packed in to Bronco Stadium to see Idaho defeat Utah in Boise.  This year’s game was, in fact, the dedication for Bronco Stadium.  It must have been a great site to see the parade through downtown Boise featuring the Utah and Idaho marching bands.  Once again, the game was attended by Idaho’s  governor.  One of the traditions involved in the game was the breakfast attended by alumni of both great institutions.  The game was a great one as well, seeing the Vandals jump out to an early lead and fight off a ferocious comeback by the visitors.


A comic from the Argonaut in 1950 depicting the battle for the Little Brown Stein. In the background the mascot for the University of Utah Redskins can be seen as well as the mascot for the Eastern Washington College of Education Savages, which has become the Eastern Washington University Eagles. The Eastern Washington reference is puzzling because Idaho and Eastern Washington had only played one game to this point, in 1942.

These actions, of course, led to rumors that Idaho was going to follow Montana’s lead and exit the difficult Pacific Coast Conference.  Denials came from directly from the president’s office.  Ironically, playing a 1950 schedule consisting of 4 conference games, Idaho football brought in more profit than in any year prior.

Idaho was surprisingly competitive in the PCC in 1950.  The Vandals finished the conference slate with a record of 1-2-1 including an upset victory over Oregon.  The Vandals tied WSU and lost a rare game to Montana.  The final loss came against Oregon State.  The schedule looked suspiciously like a 2011 Pac-12 schedule as it also included games against Arizona State and Utah.  What might have been had Idaho chosen to emphasize football rather than forfeit success to the bigger California schools?

1950 Schedule Poster

1950 Schedule Poster


About gomightyvandals

A sports fan interested in the history of Vandal Athletics
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