Unfortunately, because Idaho no longer enjoys the company of the Pac-12 schools, many have forgotten the accomplishments of the Mighty Vandals. 1927 was one of the best, if not the best season in the history of Vandal football. Idaho marched through the conference schedule undefeated, tying Stanford and USC for the conference crown. Many publications omit the fact that Idaho tied for the championship because Idaho had 3 ties on the season. Despite that fact, Idaho had other claims to the title. Idaho tied Saint Mary’s in non-conference play. The same Saint Mary’s team would defeat Stanford, who would ultimately be chosen to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl. The Gem of the Mountains claims that Idaho attempted to schedule both USC and Stanford early in the season but neither school would fit the Vandals in. Stanford and USC tied in their meeting. Of course relative scores can be deceiving as Gonzaga played the Whitman Missionaries close, winning 7-0 while Idaho smashed Whitman 40-0. Idaho would go on to lose a close one go Gonzaga. Gonzaga also lost to Saint Mary’s. The season started off quietly with a hard fought victory over Montana State in Moscow. The record books list the game as being played in Bozeman, but it was played in Moscow. Idaho’s 19-12 victory left fans questioning the Vandal air defense. The doubt seemed to be reinforced when Idaho played Oregon to a scoreless tie. As Idaho improved its record to 2-0-1 with a 40-0 defeat of Whitman, still few took notice.
Even though the Vandals prevented Whitman from gaining a single yard in the second half, the papers only covered the story with a minor blurb. Idaho started turning heads soon after and were favored to win soundly over Montana. The Vandals came through and punished the Griz in a rout, 42-6. The annual game with Washington State was a big deal as always. The Vandals and Cougs played to a tie score as the Vandals once again proved that 1927 was no fluke. As November trudged on, Idaho made the front page of the Chronicle with a small article about the upcoming game at Oregon State. In the end Idaho’s perceived weak schedule was their undoing and Stanford was chosen to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl. The Idaho fan site GoVandals.net has a pay-per-view article about the great season. The Gem of the Mountains, accessible at the link above, has tremendous in-depth information for every game in the 1927 season.
Although the Tournament of Roses Association had long since invited Stanford to represent the west in the Rose Bowl, the conference finally, officially, recognized Idaho’s share of the championship during the 1927 conference meeting in Portland. The conference awarded the championship trophy jointly to all three co-champions and let Idaho hold the trophy for the 1928 season. However, it doesn’t appear Idaho ever took possession of the championship trophy as it was given by California to USC in January of 1929.
Scheduling continued to be an issue for the wide-spread conference and was the subject of much debate between the representatives. This article from the Spokesman gives a glimpse of the thought process behind scheduling in the Coast Conference.