|1979 Idaho Vandals football|
|Conference||Big Sky Conference|
|Record||4–7 (2–5 Big Sky)|
|Offensive coordinator||Bill Tripp (2nd season)|
|Defensive coordinator||Tim Hundley (1st season)|
|Home stadium||Kibbie Dome|
|1979 Big Sky Conference football standings|
|Boise State *||7||–||0||–||0||10||–||1||–||0|
|No. 9 Montana State $||6||–||1||–||0||6||–||4||–||0|
|No. 5 Nevada ^||5||–||2||–||0||8||–||4||–||0|
|No. T–10 Northern Arizona||3||–||4||–||0||7||–||4||–||0|
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA AP Poll
The 1979 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1979 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Vandals were led by second-year head coach Jerry Davitch and were members of the Big Sky Conference. They played their home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.
With quarterbacks Jay Goodenbour and Rob Petrillo running the veer offense, the Vandals were 4–7 overall and 2–5 in the Big Sky. They won four of five in mid-season, but dropped their final four games. Idaho lost to rival Boise State for the third straight year; the Broncos went undefeated in conference play but were on probation for a scouting violation and not eligible for the title or the I-AA playoffs.
Junior running back Glen White was the Vandals' leading rusher in 1979, the best season by a UI running back in the 1970s. He missed the opener at Fresno, but gained 889 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in the final ten games; in the game at Idaho State, he rushed for 163 yards on 19 carries. A military brat, White graduated from Kaiserslautern American High School in West Germany in 1977. All-Europe for two seasons, he had not been recruited by college football programs; a high school coach was a former Vandal and alerted UI head coach Ed Troxel.
While in off-season training in February 1980, White felt weakness and underwent medical testing in Moscow and Seattle. Diagnosed with aplastic anemia, he battled it for several months until his death from complications on August 9 at an Oklahoma City hospital, near his parents' home at Fort Sill. White, age 22, was posthumously designated an honorary team captain for all eleven games in 1980, and his Vandal teammates wore his number 32 on the left side of their helmets in tribute.
Future NFL linebacker Sam Merriman of Tucson, Arizona, was a standout on defense in 1979 as a true freshman.
|September 8||7:30 p.m.||at Fresno State (Div. I-A)*||L 10–30||11,418|||
|September 15||7:00 p.m.||at Northern Arizona||L 18–29||13,056|||
|September 22||7:30 p.m.||Pacific (CA) (Div. I-A)*||W 17–13||10,500|||
|September 29||7:30 p.m.||Puget Sound (D-II)*||W 34–10|||
|October 6||7:00 p.m.||at Idaho State||W 28–23||8,175|||
|October 13||7:30 p.m.||Boise State||L 17–41||15,500|||
|October 20||1:30 p.m.||Montana||W 20–17||14,200|||
|October 27||12:30 p.m.||at No. 9 Montana State||L 20–28||7,127|||
|November 3||1:30 p.m.||Nevada||L 26–38||5,500|||
|November 10||12:30 p.m.||at Weber State||L 7–12||2,323|||
|November 17||1:30 p.m.||No. 8 (D-II) South Dakota State*||L 13–27||6,000|||
|1979 Idaho Vandals football team roster|
Tackle Kyle Riddell, center Larry Coombs, defensive tackle Mark McNeal, and placekicker Pete O'Brien were named to the all-conference team. Second team selections were safety Ray McCanna and linebacker Sam Merriman, a true freshman.
One Vandal senior was selected in the 1980 NFL Draft, which lasted twelve rounds (333 selections).
|Mark McNeal||DE||6th||153||Seattle Seahawks|