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Thoughts on Idaho

Like it or not, Idaho and Washington State are linked by more than just an eight mile stretch of road. My thoughts on the current state of the Vandals, and our Palouse rivalry:


Think of it as a sibling rivalry.

Family is family because you're linked. You may love your family, you might fight with your family, but you're forever entwined by genetics, location or whatever set of societal values you cherish.

The University of Idaho was founded one year before our State College of Washington in 1889. Both were land-grant universities, built eight miles apart and some 75 miles from the nearest major population center (Spokane). The U of I's location in Moscow is perplexing to me: 83 miles away from Coeur d'Alene by road, 295 miles from Boise, 534 miles from Pocatello and 561 miles from Idaho Falls. The middle of nowhere (relative to Idaho's major metropolitan areas not named Lewiston) may be a generous description when it comes to Moscow.

I'm going to assume placing two state universities so close together in the 19th century wasn't a mistake. Idaho and Washington State were meant to be close. Most likely for the purposes of increasing local amenities, sharing ideas and collaborating when it made sense. Football probably wasn't a consideration at the time. If you were a betting man in the 1890s, however, you would probably guess that a century down the road the two schools would be very similar athletically.

Well, here we are 119 years after the first meeting and WSU leads the all-time series 70-16-3. As Kyle Sherwood so eloquently put it, losing to Idaho now borders on catastrophe for the Cougs. This is unfair to Idaho, but it's true. WSU struck gold in the Pac-10 (now 12) Conference, and now earn an equal share of one of the biggest television contracts in college sports history. The black and gold, meanwhile, are currently vagabonds of college football, living as an independent at this very moment. Which brings me to one of my favorite tweets ever:

Probably the last thing Idaho fans want to hear from a Coug fan is advice on what their program should do, but I'm going to give it to them anyway: Idaho should go back to the FCS.

You know what Idaho's ceiling is in their current state? This. No shot at a national championship. No shot at a BCS Bowl game. The biggest win Idaho can realistically hope to achieve right now is a win in a marginal Bowl game over a MAC team (although, to be fair, it was #MACtion). There's also the awkwardness of your program's greatest moment occurring on your rival's blue turf.

If this sounds harsh, it's because I care. I think it would be great for football in the Palouse if Idaho got back to winning again. Back to competing for national championships. In the FCS, that's actually possible. Coug fans like us can even root for them in the playoffs guilt-free. I like Idaho a lot: I have family that went there, I love the city of Moscow (it's Idaho's Pullman) and I love me some Kibbie Dome. Back in the Big Sky, Idaho can save on travel expenses and reignite rivalries with Eastern, Montana and Idaho State.

It's important to note that the University of Idaho is a part of your experience as a Washington State Cougar. The schools do collaborate on academic projects. Cougs and Vandals eat together at Winger's. We (more than occasionally) party together. If you didn't go on runs to WinCo, trips to Wendy's or strolled around Moscow's excellent downtown area your experience as a Cougar wasn't the full experience. After all, the Palouse Mall knows what you want and they've got it. I'd be lying if I said some of my favorite experiences at WSU didn't happen in Moscow. I've been to the ice skating rink. I volunteered at their Humane Society. Moscow is just a mirror image of Pullman, and if you don't look into it from time to time you are missing out.

So Go Vandals. Just not Saturday, or any other time you play my Washington State Cougars.