The 1919 season marked a rebirth of Idaho football after no team was fielded in the 1918 season. Unfortunately the year off did not produce better results as the Vandals played to a 2-3 season record.
The first game of the season was against the Ducks in Eugene. From the beginning of football competition at Idaho, the Vandals had never beaten the Ducks and 1919 would be no different. The record books mistakenly indicate that this game occurred in Eugene. However, the game occurred in Moscow. The referee from the game authored a summary in the Spokane Daily Chronicle which suggested that Oregon’s offense simply wore Idaho down. Idaho played a competitive first half, but Oregon’s attacks became more successful in the second half en route to a 27-6 victory for the Ducks.
The second game of the season occurred on a slushy field in Salt Lake City against the University of Utah. An early snowfall had turned the grid into a muddy mess. Your author has remarked tirelessly about the significance of this lost rivalry. This rivalry, although not bitter, has faded from the memories of most Vandal fans. 1919 had marked a renewal of this historic rivalry, which had not been played since 1911. Idaho and Utah have been playing football for over 100 years against each other, yet few people regard this game as significant. In 1919 Utah competed in the Rocky Mountain Conference and Idaho in the Northwest Conference. This contest would be a good indicator of which was stronger. Unfortunately for the Vandal faithful, Mitt Romney lead the Utahans to a rather easy victory, outclassing Idaho 20-0. 1600 fans braved the snow to see the Utah victory.
The next week Idaho and WSC would face off in the annual battle of the Palouse. The forecast was not good for Idaho as WSC fielded a strong team which had humbled Cal the week before. In a line which could have been lifted from one of today’s fine newspapers, the Spokesman remarked that “special precautions will be exercised at Pullman to avert mob disorder owing to the bad blood existing”. The newly christened “Cougars” ran rough shod over Idaho. 3,000 fans came out to Rogers field to witness the 37-0 defeat of the Vandals.
The next week Idaho’s luck would finally turn. Once again the Vandals would defeat the lowly Grizzlies from Montana. In another quote that could very well be from today, Idaho telegraphed Montana of the crowded hotel conditions in the city and recommended the Montana squad bunk in Pullman or Spokane for the night. During the game Idaho held the ball almost exclusively in Montana territory, finally scoring a touchdown to win the game 7-0.
The final weekend of the season was a major sporting weekend for inland football fans. Gonzaga hosted Idaho while WSC hosted UW. At the fairgrounds in Spokane, Idaho pulled the upset 13-7. Although Gonzaga was predicted to win, Idaho got off some big plays to defeat the Bulldogs. The Chronicle questioned the Gonzaga coaching while at the same time giving credit to Idaho’s disciplined and experienced attack.
Gonzaga was no slouch in 1919. In their game against Whitman the Bulldogs injured six Whitman players preventing Whitman from having enough players to field a team against Idaho. Whitman was forced to cancel the game.
While the season began slowly, Idaho finished it by winning two games in a row. Although only five games were played, they were all against regional foes with historic ties.