1980 Idaho Vandals football
Idaho Vandals logo.svg
ConferenceBig Sky Conference
Record6–5 (4–3 Big Sky)
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorBill Tripp (3rd season)
Offensive schemeVeer
Defensive coordinatorLeland Kendall [1][2][3] (1st season)
Base defense5–2
CaptainGlen White (posthumous)
Home stadiumKibbie Dome
← 1979
1981 →
1980 Big Sky Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 7 Boise State $^ 6 1 0 10 3 0
Idaho 4 3 0 6 5 0
Nevada 4 3 0 6 4 1
Idaho State* 4 4 0 6 5 0
Weber State* 4 4 0 4 7 0
Montana State 3 4 0 4 6 0
Northern Arizona 3 4 0 5 6 0
Montana 1 6 0 3 7 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • ^ – NCAA Division I-AA playoff participant
  • * – Idaho State and Weber State met twice in league play with each game counting as a half game.
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA AP Poll

The 1980 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1980 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Vandals were led by third-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 freshman transfer quarterback Ken Hobart running the veer offense,[4][5] the Vandals were 6–5 overall and 4–3 in the Big Sky to tie for second. Idaho lost to rival Boise State for the fourth straight year. BSU won the Big Sky title in 1980 and competed in the four-team Division I-AA playoffs; the Broncos won the finals over defending champion Eastern Kentucky.

It was the first winning season for the Vandals since 1976 and only the fourth winning record for the football program in over four decades.[6]

Notable players

Transfer quarterback Ken Hobart from Kamiah was a four-year starter. He quickly adjusted from an option quarterback in the veer under Davitch to a prolific passer under new head coach Dennis Erickson in 1982. He led the Vandals to a 9–4 record in 1982 and an 8–3 record in 1983 as a fifth-year senior, when he was a Division I-AA All-American. Hobart played a season in the USFL with Jacksonville in 1984 and several in the CFL.

Sophomore linebacker Sam Merriman from Tucson, Arizona,[7] was selected in the seventh round (177th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. A four-year starter for the Vandals, he played five seasons with Seattle, primarily on special teams.[8][9][10] He was a probable starter in 1988, but a serious knee injury in a preseason game (on a punt return in overtime) ended his playing career.[11][12][13]

Fallen teammate

Glen White was the Vandals' leading rusher during his junior season in 1979,[14] the best season by a UI running back in the 1970s. He missed the opener,[15] but gained 889 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in the final ten games as the team finished at 4–7.[16]

While in off-season training in February, White felt weakness and was sent to Seattle for further testing.[17] 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.[18] White, age 22, was posthumously designated an honorary team captain for all eleven games,[19] and the Vandals wore his number 32 on the left side of their helmets during the 1980 season.[20][21]


September 13at Pacific (Div. I-A)*L 13–2415,000[22]
September 20Simon Fraser (NAIA)*W 56–1611,500
September 27at MontanaW 42–0  8,535
October 4Portland State*
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
W 37–2713,000
October 11at Boise StateNo. 9L 21–4421,812
October 18Montana Statedagger
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
W 14–615,000
October 25at San Jose State (Div. I-A)*L 10–32  7,263
November 1at Weber StateW 31–611,000
November 8Idaho State
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
L 21–2812,000
November 15Northern Arizona
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
W 14–710,000[20][23]
November 22at Nevada-RenoL 7–38  9,000[24]


1980 Idaho Vandals football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
SE 7 Jack Klein Jr
QB 9 Ken Hobart Fr
QB 11 Mark Vigil Fr
RB 3 Russell Davis Jr
RB 35 Wally Jones So
RB 33 Terry Idler So
RB Tim Payne So
QB,SE Ben Bubak Jr
FL Curtis Johnson So
SE John Palumbo Sr
TE Tom Coombs Jr
LT 62 Steve Seman So
LG Dave Monico Sr
C Pat Hills Sr
RG John Girnt Sr
RT 74 Bruce Fery Jr
Pos. # Name Class
CB 41 Greg Jennings Jr
FS Ray McCanna Sr
SS 25 Kelly Miller Jr
CB Carlton McBride Sr
LB 52 Sam Merriman So
LB Larry White Fr
DE Jay Hayes Jr
DT 63 Dave Frohnen Jr
NG Steve Nelson Jr
DT 75 Monty Elder Sr
DE 44 Frank Moreno Fr
DE 43 Larry Barker Sr
DE 90 Lloyd Williamson So
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
PK 6 Pete O'Brien Jr
P Chris Brockman Sr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches
  • Bill Tripp (OC)
  • Leland Kendall (DC)
  • Ray Groth (OB)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Injured
  • Redshirt


Tackle Bruce Fery was the only Vandal on the first team;[29][30] second team selections were running back Russell Davis, defensive end Larry Barker, linebacker Sam Merriman, cornerback Carlton McBride, and placekicker Pete O'Brien.[31] Honorable mention picks included quarterback Ken Hobart, tight end Tom Coombs, defensive end Jay Hayes, safety Kelly Miller, and punter Chris Brockman.[30][31]

NFL Draft

No Vandals were selected in the 1981 NFL Draft, which lasted twelve rounds (332 selections).

Two Vandal juniors were later selected in the 1982 NFL Draft,[32][33][34] also twelve rounds (334 selections).

Player Position Round Overall Franchise
Tom Coombs TE 7th 181 New York Jets
Russell Davis RB 11th 305 Cincinnati Bengals


  1. ^ "Idaho names two assistants". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). March 22, 1980. p. 14.
  2. ^ "Kendall, Groth join UI staff". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). March 25, 1980. p. 3C.
  3. ^ a b Stewart, Chuck (September 3, 1980). "Stop 'em". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 23.
  4. ^ Emerson, Paul (March 23, 1980). "Davitch gets second chance at Hobart". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 11D.
  5. ^ Missildine, Harry (September 10, 1980). "Idaho's 'Kamiah Kid': He could be an uncommon football story". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  6. ^ "Idaho Vandals: yearly totals". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on March 23, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2016.
  7. ^ Ramsdell, Paul (November 27, 1982). "Lucky Sam Merriman". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1C.
  8. ^ "Sam Merriman". Database Football. Archived from the original on October 10, 2016. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  9. ^ Weaver, Dan (July 18, 1984). "Low in the draft, high on the team". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 15.
  10. ^ Jacobson, Bryan (December 20, 1986). "Like riding a bike". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 25.
  11. ^ "Seahawks lose Merriman for year". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. August 13, 1988. p. B1.
  12. ^ Pierce, Oliver (September 14, 1988). "Merriman isn't merry on sidelines". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 9A.
  13. ^ "Seahawks cut Merriman, two others". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 18, 1989. p. C3.
  14. ^ Killen, John (November 14, 1979). "Prodigal son: Glen White came back to Idaho and everybody's happy he did". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. p. 1C.
  15. ^ Stewart, Chuck (October 12, 1979). "White leads Vandals against Boise State". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 25.
  16. ^ "Peaks and valleys". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. November 22, 1979. p. 1B.
  17. ^ "Idaho back stricken". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). February 21, 1980. p. 23.
  18. ^ "UI running back dies". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). August 10, 1980. p. 2B.
  19. ^ "Vandals". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). September 18, 1980. p. 4C.
  20. ^ a b "White memory spurs Vandals to big victory". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). November 18, 1980. p. 30.
  21. ^ "'96 Vandals will sport new look". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). April 28, 1996. p. 6B.
  22. ^ Missildine, Harry (September 13, 1980). "Leaping lizards! Hold those Tigers!". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. 19.
  23. ^ a b Stewart, Chuck (November 15, 1980). "UI seniors in final home title". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 12.
  24. ^ Stewart, Chuck (November 18, 1980). "Nevada-Reno's 'Hawk' rips Vandals". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 18.
  25. ^ Stewart, Chuck (September 9, 1980). "Consistency said key for Vandals". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). p. 19.
  26. ^ "Probable starting lineups". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). September 13, 1980. p. 19.
  27. ^ "Probable starters". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). September 20, 1980. p. 1C.
  28. ^ "Probable starters". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). November 15, 1980. p. 1C.
  29. ^ "Vandal tackle gains Big Sky star spot". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). December 3, 1980. p. 22.
  30. ^ a b "Vandals' Fery makes all-conference team". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 4, 1980. p. 4C.
  31. ^ a b "Weber, Boise, Reno each land three on Big Sky defensive team all-conference team". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 6, 1980. p. 2B.
  32. ^ "NFL teams grab best local talent". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. April 29, 1981. p. 27.
  33. ^ "Four Cougars, two Vandals picked". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). April 29, 1982. p. 35.
  34. ^ "NFL teams add Idaho players in late rounds". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). April 29, 1982. p. 1C.