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Battle of the Palouse: A history lesson

Rivalries are socially fascinating, and this one has some cool elements that have often been overlooked!

Idaho v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning, Coug fans! I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve, and even though I’m not expecting presents under a tree, I have found myself chanting “football is coming, football is coming” more times than I want to admit over the past week. I am half sure my roommate thinks I’m losing it. Maybe I am!

While there are many rivalries our Washington State Cougars participate in, this is one that never really occurred to me, despite how regionally obvious it is. Tomorrow (I know, I can’t believe it either) we face off against our neighbors, the University of Idaho Vandals.

Here are some fun facts I learned about all our success against them, in hopes to really inspire a wonderful game tomorrow.

The first fun fact that sparked joy for me: under Paul Wulff, we never played Idaho! 2008-2011 was a devastating time for our program, but it never included losing tragically to Idaho! We’ll always have that to look back on.

Washington State leads the series 72-16-3, the three ties taking place in 1908, 1927, and 1950. The rivalry game began in November of 1894, where Washington State was victorious!

For 30 years between 1938 and 1968, there was a tradition called the “Losers Walk” where the losing school would walk the eight miles to the winners school, and get a ride back. Now, this one didn’t make sense to me up front, because why would the winners want to drive the losers all the way back? And then it hit me: more time to gloat! I have found a silent film record of one of the Losers Walk for Idaho — enjoy!

And, as for any good rivalry, there is an element of suspected arson! Between November of 1969 and April 1970, both schools’ stadiums (each made of wood at the time) went up in flames. At the time, WSU’s field (burned in 1970) was called Rogers Field. We now know a different Rogers Field, where the football team practices!

The night of the fire — allegedly — a gunshot was heard around 10:30 p.m., and the fire began shortly after. The fire took place on the first night of spring break, which made it all the more suspicious. I was unable to find any information on who might have done this, but I am not ruling out Idaho. Just kidding! After two years of having no home base, Martin Stadium was born in 1972!

As for the Idaho fire, formerly Neale Stadium was initially condemned in 1969 for unsafe conditions, and then went up in flames! There is also very little information about this fire, but for that I blame Wikipedia.

Out of the fire, and into the frying pan for Idaho: the next game between the two schools after the arson issues was affectionately named “The Displaced Bowl” — seeing as neither team had stadiums of their own. Washington State won this game 44-16, if my research is correct! Below is footage of the game, and while no one has to watch all of it, it’s kind of special to see the uniforms and film style!

Well, Coug fans, I hope you enjoyed this fun walk down memory lane to best prepare you for tomorrow! And don’t worry, you won’t need to pack your good walking shoes ... Hopefully ...


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