1911 – Two Presidents Visit the University

The year 1911 was a special one in the history of the University of Idaho. One of the most historic ever in the long and glorious history of the university. In 1911 two U.S. presidents visited the Moscow campus. First president Teddy Roosevelt in April and then, three months later, President Taft. Huge crowds greeted Taft on his tour and Moscow was no exception. Although he pronounced Moscow incorrectly, the people still cheered. There’s a great interview with a local man (and former Vandal football player) named Abe MacGregor about his attendance at the Theodore Roosevelt appearance available from the University of Idaho library.

On the football field, Idaho entered the 1911 season with an all time winning record against Washington State College. The crimson and gray would be victorious in 1911 to tie the series at 6-6-2.  The Spokane papers took a decidedly pro-cougar tone in their game recaps. However, the great rivalry was described in romantic terms and the game was apparently a great one. WSC won by the score of 17-0 but Idaho fought hard, as they always do, against the cougars. The Chronicle mentions that Idaho was the lighter team and was pretty well handled by WSC. The Spokesman featured a tabulation of all previous scores in the series showing just how competitive this rivalry had become. The Spokesman also put the crowd at 4,000 spectators with special trains, packed to the steps, running to Moscow. Idaho’s biggest crowds have historically been against the hated cougars and it is a shame that the game now rarely occurs at all and never occurs in Moscow.

There is an omission in the record books regarding Idaho’s game with Gonzaga the week before the WSC affair. On October 14 Idaho hosted Gonzaga in Moscow. Once again the paper labeled the team from Moscow the “Huskies”. Idaho Huskies doesn’t have the same ring to it as Mighty Vandals. Surprisingly the 22-0 victory was seen as a disappointment with Idaho expected to beat the Gonzagans by 30 to 35 points.

Members of the 1911 Idaho Vandals from the 1913 Gem of the Mountains

Members of the 1911 Idaho Vandals from the 1913 Gem of the Mountains

The record books also omit the location and date of Idaho’s meeting with Lewiston Normal. That game occurred on October 7 and was also played at Moscow. The Mighty Vandals made quick work of the normal school and won by the score of 40-5.

On the 28th of October Idaho met Washington in Spokane. An example of another tradition lost or given up by Idaho is the hosting of events in the region’s largest population center. Spokane, as usual, was excited about hosting such a big event. Washington was favored by 10-20 points and the game played out exactly as expected with Washington enjoying a 17-0 victory. The Spokesman ran a huge comic poking fun at the ease with which Washington defeated Idaho.

Following the Washington game, Idaho returned home to host Whitman. The Vandals got back to their winning ways at home, defeating Whitman 5-0. The only touchdown of the game came in the first quarter. Idaho outplayed Whitman for most of the game with the visitors rarely threatening to score.

Idaho then traveled to Salt Lake City to face another old rival on Thanksgiving day- Utah. Three weeks had elapsed between Idaho football games due to Oregon canceling a scheduled meeting due to the death of one of their players. The snowy field and fast Utah team proved too much for Idaho with the Vandals falling by the score of 19-0. The Spokesman stated that “the Mormons got the advantage of almost every break”.

In Idaho’s last game of the season the Vandals defeated the Boise All-Stars by the score of either 21-0 or 31-0.

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About gomightyvandals

A sports fan interested in the history of Vandal Athletics
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