1985 Idaho Vandals football
Idaho Vandals logo.svg
Big Sky champion
ConferenceBig Sky Conference
APNo. 5
Record9–3 (6–1 Big Sky)
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorKeith Gilbertson (2nd season)
Defensive coordinatorJohn L. Smith (4th season)
Base defense3–4
Home stadiumKibbie Dome
← 1984
1986 →
1985 Big Sky Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 5 Idaho $^ 6 1 0 9 3 0
No. T–2 Nevada ^ 6 1 0 11 2 0
Boise State 5 2 0 7 4 0
Weber State 4 3 0 6 5 0
Idaho State 3 4 0 5 6 0
Montana 2 5 0 3 8 0
Northern Arizona 1 6 0 3 8 0
Montana State 1 6 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • ^ – NCAA Division I-AA playoff participant
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA Poll

The 1985 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1985 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Vandals, led by fourth-year head coach Dennis Erickson, were members of the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.

The Vandals won their first outright conference title since 1971 (the 1982 team tied for the title, but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to Montana). Led by quarterbacks Scott Linehan and Rick Sloan,[1][2][3][4][5] Idaho finished the regular season at 9–2 and 6–1 in the Big Sky.[6][7]

The 1985 season marked the first time that the Vandal football program had four consecutive winning seasons; this streak extended to fifteen in 1996.[8]

Notable games

The Vandals opened the season with a fifteen-point loss at Oregon State in Corvallis, whom they had defeated the year before in Moscow.[9] After six straight losses to Nevada, Idaho recorded its first conference victory over the Wolf Pack,[1] who joined the Big Sky in 1979. The Vandals defeated rival Boise State for the fourth consecutive year,[6] the fourth of twelve straight over the Broncos, and were ranked fifth in the final I-AA poll, released prior to the postseason.[10] A key one-point road loss at Idaho State in late October prevented the Vandals from attaining an important first round bye in the I-AA playoffs.[11]

Division I-AA playoffs

After a two-season absence, Idaho returned to the twelve-team I-AA playoffs, hosting independent Eastern Washington, whom they had defeated four weeks earlier by three touchdowns.[7][12] The eleventh-ranked Eagles won the rematch, a back-and-forth contest before a sparse crowd at the Kibbie Dome, two days after Thanksgiving.[13][14][15] (EWU joined the Big Sky in 1987, raising league membership to nine.)

For the following season in 1986, the I-AA playoffs expanded from 12 to 16 teams, which eliminated the bye week for the top four seeds.

Notable players

The 1985 team included two future NFL head coaches: quarterback Scott Linehan and offensive lineman Tom Cable. Future NFL players with lengthy pro careers included guard Mark Schlereth (redshirt freshman starting on defense this season) and true freshman John Friesz, a future collegiate hall of fame quarterback as a three-year starter (198789), but inactive in 1985 as a redshirt.


This was the fourth and final season at Idaho for head coach Dennis Erickson and defensive coordinator John L. Smith.[16] Offensive coordinator Keith Gilbertson returned to that position on a volunteer basis after three spring seasons in the USFL with the L.A. Express. Days after Erickson's early December departure for Wyoming,[17][18] Gilbertson was promoted to head coach for 1986.[19][20][21] Smith followed Erickson to Laramie and back to the Palouse at Washington State in 1987, then returned to the Vandals in January 1989. He succeeded Gilbertson,[22] who left after three seasons for an assistant's position in Seattle, as offensive line coach under head coach Don James at Washington.


Sep 076:00 pmat Oregon State (Div. I-A)*L 28–4326,154
Sep 147:00 pmMankato State (Div. II)*W 46–7  9,500
Sep 216:30 pmat Northern ArizonaW 27–311,885
Sep 281:00 pmNo. 2 NevadadaggerNo. 10
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
W 25–2115,600
Oct 056:00 pmat Portland State (Div. II)*No. 6W 51–17  6,286
Oct 126:00 pmat Weber StateNo. 3W 31–28
Oct 197:00 pmMontanaNo. 4
W 38–011,300
Oct 266:30 pmat Idaho StateNo. 4L 37–3811,422
Nov 027:00 pmNo. 10 Eastern Washington*No. 8
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
W 42–2115,500
Nov 0912:00 pmat Montana StateNo. 6W 34–0
Nov 231:00 pmNo. 19 Boise StateNo. 5
W 44–2715,800
Nov 303:00 pmNo. 11 Eastern Washington*No. 5
L 38–42  6,500


1985 Idaho Vandals football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
WR 1 Eric Yarber Sr
QB 10 Scott Linehan Jr
TE 12 Scott Auker Sr
QB 14 Rick Sloan Sr
QB 15 Darel Tracy Jr
QB 17 John Friesz
RB 19 Freddie Lloyd Jr
RB Todd Hoiness Fr
RB Greg Dial Fr
RB Kevin Bailey Sr
WR 33 Brant Bengen Jr
G Tom Cable Sr
G 64 Joe Smiley Sr
C 68 Matt Watson Sr
OT 75 Mark Caldwell Sr
OT 77 Dave Thorsen Sr
Pos. # Name Class
CB Ike Young Jr
FS 16 Mark Tidd Jr
CB 29 Virgil Paulson So
SS Dan McCanna So
CB Mike Johnston Sr
LB 38 Tom Hennessey Jr
LB Nolan Harper Jr
LB 45 Mike Cox Jr
LB Dave Parker Jr
LB 35 Shawn Nilsson Jr
NG 60 Mark Schlereth Fr
DT Joe Taibi Sr
DT John Andrews Sr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K Brian Decicio Fr
P 7 Darin Magnuson Jr
P Johnn Pleas
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

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


Wide receiver Eric Yarber and junior linebacker Tom Hennessey were the offensive and defensive players of the year in the Big Sky,[29][30] respectively, and were joined on the all-conference team by junior safety Mark Tidd (unanimous), senior tackle Mark Caldwell, and senior defensive tackle John Andrews.[31][32][33]

Six Vandals, all on offense, were on the second team: quarterback Rick Sloan, tight end Scott Auker, wide receiver Brant Bengen, center Matt Watson, and guards Tom Cable and Joe Smiley.[31][32] Honorable mention went to tackle Dave Thorsen and running back Todd Hoiness.[33]

Yarber was named to the Kodak All-American team for Division I-AA.[33]


  1. ^ a b Barrows, Bob (September 29, 1985). "Idaho rallies back to trap Wolf Pack, 25-21". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  2. ^ Boling, Dave (October 19, 1985). "More broken bones today in Moscow?". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. B1.
  3. ^ Barrows, Bob (October 25, 1985). "Idaho's Sloan not just a passing fancy". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  4. ^ Boling, Dave (November 14, 1985). "Poetic justice? Sloan takes over". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  5. ^ Boling, Dave (November 23, 1985). "Erickson: 'It's our biggest game ever'". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C4.
  6. ^ a b Barrows, Bob (November 24, 1985). "Idaho reigns as Big Sky Conference champs". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. C1.
  7. ^ a b Boling, Dave (November 23, 1985). "Beginning could be the end in playoff rematch". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  8. ^ College Football Data Warehouse Archived 2012-03-03 at the Wayback Machine – Idaho Vandals – yearly totals – accessed 2011-10-02
  9. ^ Cawood, Neil (September 8, 1985). "Beavers do Vandalizing this time". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). p. 1B.
  10. ^ "Idaho fifth in final I-AA poll". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. November 26, 1985. p. 2B.
  11. ^ Katsilometes, George (October 27, 1985). "'Hail Mary' helps Idaho State nip Idaho". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1C.
  12. ^ Barrows, Bob (November 30, 1985). "Idaho begins 'second season' today looking for a repeat". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 6B.
  13. ^ Barrows, Bob (December 1, 1985). "Vandalized!: Late score helps Eastern turn Idaho upside down, 42-38". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  14. ^ "Idaho ousted in Division I-AA". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. December 1, 1985. p. 7C.
  15. ^ Barrows, Bob (December 2, 1985). "Vandals reflect on tough loss...and 'the play'". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  16. ^ Boling, Dave (December 5, 1985). "Erickson leaves Idaho with winning tradition". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. C2.
  17. ^ Boling, Dave (December 2, 1985). "Erickson leaves Idaho for Wyoming". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. C1.
  18. ^ "No surprises: Erickson's a Wyoming Cowboy". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). staff and wire reports. December 3, 1985. p. 1B.
  19. ^ Barrows, Bob (December 6, 1985). "Idaho tabs Gilbertson as new football coach". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  20. ^ Boling, Dave (December 6, 1985). "Idaho passes the football to Gilbertson". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. C1.
  21. ^ Barrows, Bob (December 7, 1985). "Gilbertson promises to keep Idaho in the air". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  22. ^ Meehan, Jim (January 3, 1989). "Smith: no newcomer to UI football". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 7A.
  23. ^ College Football Data Warehouse Archived 2010-02-16 at the Wayback Machine – Idaho 1985–89 – accessed 2010-05-14
  24. ^ "Starting line-ups". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). September 21, 1985. p. 3C.
  25. ^ "Starting line-ups". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). September 28, 1985. p. 3C.
  26. ^ "Starting line-ups". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). October 19, 1985. p. 4B.
  27. ^ "Starting line-ups". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). October 26, 1985. p. 3B.
  28. ^ "Starting line-ups". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). November 23, 1985. p. 4B.
  29. ^ "Conference honors Hennessey, Yarber". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 5, 1985. p. 4B.
  30. ^ Boling, Dave (November 21, 1985). "He's Idaho's Repo Man". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C4.
  31. ^ a b "Vandals' Yarber, Caldwell on Big Sky first team". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 4, 1985. p. 4B.
  32. ^ a b "Nevada-Reno dominates Big Sky defensive team". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 5, 1985. p. 4B.
  33. ^ a b c "Kodak names Yarber, Ralph to A-A teams". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). December 5, 1985. p. C1.