1986 Idaho Vandals football
Idaho Vandals logo.svg
ConferenceBig Sky Conference
Record8–4 (5–2 Big Sky)
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorBill Diedrick (1st season)
Defensive coordinatorKent Baer (1st season)
Home stadiumKibbie Dome
← 1985
1987 →
1986 Big Sky Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 1 Nevada $^ 7 0 0 13 1 0
No. 16 Idaho ^ 5 2 0 8 4 0
Northern Arizona 5 2 0 7 4 0
Montana* 4 4 0 6 4 0
Boise State 3 4 0 5 6 0
Weber State 2 5 0 3 8 0
Montana State 2 5 0 3 8 0
Idaho State* 1 7 0 2 9 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • ^ – NCAA Division I-AA playoff participant
  • * – Montana and Idaho State played twice.
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA Poll

The 1986 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1986 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Vandals, led by first-year head coach Keith Gilbertson, were members of the Big Sky Conference and played their home games at the Kibbie Dome, an indoor facility on campus in Moscow, Idaho.

Continuing upon the success of the previous four seasons under Dennis Erickson, the Vandals were defending conference champions and finished the regular season at 8–3 and 5–2 in the Big Sky, tied for second. Led by senior quarterback Scott Linehan, Idaho qualified for the I-AA playoffs for the second straight season.[1]

Notable games

The Vandals defeated rival Boise State for the fifth consecutive year, the fifth of twelve straight over the Broncos, but lost twice to Nevada, who were top-ranked in I-AA and undefeated in the regular season.[2] Uncommon for a playoff team, the Vandals were shut out at home 24–0 by Northern Arizona in late October.[3]

Division I-AA playoffs

The playoffs were expanded from 12 to 16 teams in 1986 NCAA Division I-AA football season, eliminating the first round bye for the top four seeds. Idaho and Big Sky champion Nevada were the only two teams selected from the West, and were paired up in the first round in Reno two days after Thanksgiving. In mid-October the teams played a close defensive game, and the Vandals came up short by four points.[4] The rematch in the post-season was not close as the Wolf Pack prevailed 27–7,[2] improving their record over Idaho to 8–1 since joining the Big Sky in 1979.

Notable players

The 1986 team included two future NFL head coaches: quarterback Scott Linehan[5] and offensive lineman Tom Cable. Future NFL players with lengthy pro careers included guard Mark Schlereth (redshirt sophomore) and redshirt freshman John Friesz, a future collegiate hall of fame quarterback was Linehan's back-up in 1986. Friesz was a three-year starter (198789) and defeated Nevada-Reno all three seasons, including the first-ever victory in Reno in 1988.


September 66:30 pmPortland State (D-II)*W 42–10
September 1310:00 amat Central Michigan (Div. I-A)*L 21–34
September 201:00 pmCal State Fullerton (Div. I-A)*dagger
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho [6]
W 25–1712,500
September 271:00 pmat No. 6 Eastern Washington*W 27–10  7,835
October 46:30 pmIdaho StateNo. 17
W 38–26  9,500
October 181:00 pmat No. 1 NevadaNo. 12L 17–2313,825
October 256:30 pmNorthern ArizonaNo. 15
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
L 0–24
November 112:00 pmat MontanaW 38–31
November 86:30 pmMontana State
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
W 44–17
November 156:30 pmWeber State
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, Idaho
W 31–17
November 2212:30 pmat Boise StateNo. 20W 21–1421,275
November 2912:00 pmat No. 1 Nevada*No. 16
L 7–2713,715


1986 Idaho Vandals football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
QB 10 Scott Linehan Sr
QB 17 John Friesz Fr
RB Freddie Lloyd Sr
RB Todd Hoiness So
RB 32 Steve Jackson Sr
WR 33 Brant Bengen Sr
TE Craig Robinson Jr
TE Chris Slater So
TE, LB Pete Wilkins Jr
OT Paul Taggert Sr
G Scott Katz Jr
C Phil Benson Jr
G Troy Wright Fr
OT Greg Hale So
Pos. # Name Class
SS 13 Chris Able So
FS 16 Mark Tidd Sr
CB 29 Virgil Paulson Jr
SS Dan McCanna Jr
LB 38 Tom Hennessey Sr
DE, LB Nolan Harper Sr
LB Mike Cox Sr
LB Dave Parker Sr
LB Shawn Nilsson Sr
DT, OL 60 Mark Schlereth So
DT Craig Dowdy
DE Kord Smith Jr
DE Troy Ballard Sr
DT Charlie Porter Fr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K Brian Decicio So
P 7 Darin Magnuson Sr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

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


Linebacker Tom Hennessey was a repeat selection to the all-conference team.[9][10] Eight Vandals were included on the second team: safety Mark Tidd, linebacker Nolan Harper, defensive end Kord Smith, quarterback Scott Linehan, running back Steve Jackson, wide receiver Brant Bengen, and tackles Paul Taggert and Greg Hale.[9]


  1. ^ Boling, Dave (December 3, 1986). "Dennis who?". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. D1.
  2. ^ a b c Stoffer, Jeff (December 1, 1986). "UI no obstruction for top-rated Reno". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 9.
  3. ^ a b "Idaho 1985-89". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on April 14, 2015. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  4. ^ Boling, Dave (October 19, 1986). "Idaho fumbles a chance to beat Reno, 17-13". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. D1.
  5. ^ "Hennessey again on first team". Idahonian. Moscow. Associated Press. December 3, 1986. p. 8.
  6. ^ "Idaho 25, CS Fullerton 17". The Los Angeles Times. September 21, 1986. p. III-19. Retrieved February 12, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  7. ^ "Starting line-ups". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). September 20, 1986. p. 4B.
  8. ^ "Starting line-ups". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). September 27, 1986. p. 3B.
  9. ^ a b "Hennessey honored in Sky". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). December 3, 1986. p. D3.
  10. ^ "Hennessey again on first team". Idahonian. (Moscow). Associated Press. December 3, 1986. p. 8.