Boise State-Idaho: Know Your Enemy

Drew RobertsSenior Analyst INovember 13, 2008

You should see it when it's empty.

Ah, rivalry week...the one week every year when we stop trying to ignore the "tribe from the North" and start trying to ignore Robb Akey.

The Broncos are coming off a cake walk win against Utah State, the Vandals are coming off a surprisingly tough win over Bye. Most fans, like me, know too much about Idaho and their antics on the Palouse.

Needless to say, there is still a lot to be learned about this week's foe (don't worry, Kellen Moore already knows their defense intimately)...so let's explore through the magic of factoids and childish jokes.

For the mutual benefit of the Vandal faithful, I will let you get to know us a little bit too, not that you haven't already drawn your own conclusions...so take notes.

Ten things Bronco fans might not know about the University of Idaho and their hellish hovel to the north:

10. In 1871, brothers Asbury and Noah Lieuallen and about 20 families arrived in what is now Moscow, Idaho. The settlers were drawn in by the abundant grassland and availability of timber for building. The abundance of camas bulbs, then used as fodder for pigs, in the area led the settlers to first name the town Hog Heaven. Years later, several U of I sororities adopted that same name.

9. Besides the University of Idaho—Moscow is home to 21 other academic institutions...among them, Mr. Leon's School of Hair Design and the Moscow School of Massage. Surplus baby oil from the School of Massage is donated every year to the football team.

8. The Vandal football team started play in 1893, and went 2-0-1 in their first year with two wins over Washington State and a tie against Spokane AC. It took the Vandals until 1900 to win another game. Ahh, tradition.

7. Idaho's longest tenured coach in their history was John G. "Pinky" Griffith, who coached for 10 seasons in Moscow and went 28-22-2. Griffith left Idaho to coach at Iowa after the 1906 season but returned as Vandals coach in 1910 and took over the University of Idaho's Entomology Department. Prior to coaching, Griffith was a fullback and team captain for the Iowa Hawkeyes' football team.

6. A mule named Idaho Gem, the world's first cloned equine, was created by researchers at the University of Idaho and Utah State University. Later that same year, the school cloned Buddy Hackett to be their basketball coach.

5. The Kibbie Dome, shown here, is the smallest football venue in Division 1-A with a capacity of 16,000. The dome should be full this Saturday, but don't worry, Bronco fans, there's always a little extra room in Robb Akey's mustache.

4. The campus master plan for the University of Idaho was developed by the Olmsted Brothers, founders of the American Society of Landscape Architects and sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York's Central Park. The Olmsted Brothers radical design ideas for the campus included grass, trees, gravel, and trees.

3. Before moving to the Kibbie Dome, the Vandals' football team played their home games at Neale Stadium, an "earthen horseshoe" that was named after UI president Mervin G. Neale. The stadium was condemned in 1969 and burned down by an arsonist that same year. Why are you looking at me? I wasn't born until 1980.

2. Two famous alums of the Vandal football team are Jerry Kramer and Bill Fagerbakke. Kramer went on to fame and fortune as the Intermountain Gas spokesman after his playing career in Moscow was over and Fagerbakke went on to become a starfish. Ok, Kramer was pretty good.

1. Idaho has an all-time win percentage of only 44%. Sure they, won 12 straight against the Broncos in the 80s and 90s, but that was much more anomalous than anything they've experienced before or since. They've never won a national championship, notched an undefeated season or even made a dent in the Division 1-AA playoffs. Despite their "streak," the Broncos lead the all-time series with the Vandals 19-17-1 and it's gonna get more lopsided from here on out. Just remember all this when your revisionist Vandal co-workers try to reminisce about the "good old days".

Ten things Vandal fans might not know about the Broncos and their peaceful hamlet to the south:

10. In 1978, after taking abuse from the Vandal mascot at Bronco Stadium and in tears, the Bronco mascot (who was female) was approached by Boise State wrestling coach Mike Young to pull a switcheroo on the Vandal attacker. Young donned the costume at halftime and proceeded to tackle the Vandal mascot and steal his sword. Comeuppance, I believe is what that is called.

9. Longtime radio personality and ex-"Voice of the Broncos" is actually an University of Idaho alum, as is the father of Bronco football, Lyle Smith. This is a lot like if Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine decided to fight for the Rebel Alliance after graduating from Dark Side University.

8. Boise State's second president, Eugene Chaffee (1937-1967) enlisted in the army in 1942 to fight in World War II.

7. During World War II, enrollment at Boise State dropped to 152, but by the end of the war had jumped to nearly 900. Today, enrollment is close to 20,000.

6. Aurelius "Buck" Buckner was Boise State's first African-American student athlete. Buckner attended Boise State from 1944 to 1946, and was on the football team and basketball team, where he was the high-scorer in the 1945/46 season. Bill Buckner, who also lives in Boise, is no relation.

5. Once upon a time the land on which most of Boise State's campus sits was an island. Its most famous resident was Sage Brush Ann (also known as Tarpaper Annie), who lived alone in a modest tarpaper shack. I got nothin'...this one speaks for itself.

4. Boise State is currently ranked the 40th among all universities in merchandise sales just behind Georgia Tech. Boise State is the highest ranked non-BCS school on the list of the top 75 that the CLC releases each quarter and is ranked directly ahead of Mississippi, Stanford, Colorado, Pitt, BYU, and Boston College. Here is an artist's rendering of the owner of the Blue and Orange Store.

3. Many Vandals think that Boise State ripped off their colors and mascot from the Denver Broncos...wrong. Boise State's mascot and colors were picked in 1932 by student Owen Sproat and others after a basketball game. As Sproat put it:

“Most of the guys rode horses—it was pretty much cattle country in those days.”
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The johnny-come-lately Denver Broncos didn't come on the scene until 1960.

2. Lyle Smith's teams won 16 of 21 conference titles in the Intermountain Collegiate Athletic Conference (now the Scenic West Athletic Conference). Dominance, Lyle Smith be thy name.

1. The Broncos have won ten oops...getting ahead of myself...nine straight games against the Vandals going into this Saturday's game. The last win by the Vandals was a thrilling 36-35 win on the blue 1998 in Boise. Since that fateful date in November of '98, the Broncos have won 105 games and seven conference championships. The Vandals have won 30 games in that span and have not been to a bowl game since the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl. The Tormey Curse or the Pokey Curse...take your pick.

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