1989 Idaho Vandals football
Idaho Vandals logo.svg
Big Sky champion
ConferenceBig Sky Conference
Record9–3 (8–0 Big Sky)
Head coach
Offensive coordinatorDan Cozzetto (1st season)
Defensive coordinatorGordon Shaw (1st season)
Home stadiumKibbie Dome
← 1988
1990 →
1989 Big Sky Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. T–4 Idaho $^ 8 0 0 9 3 0
No. 6 Montana ^ 7 1 0 11 3 0
No. 19 Nevada 5 3 0 7 4 0
Boise State 5 3 0 6 5 0
Eastern Washington 4 4 0 4 6 0
Northern Arizona 2 6 0 3 8 0
Montana State 2 6 0 4 7 0
Idaho State 2 6 0 3 7 0
Weber State 1 7 0 3 8 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • ^ – NCAA Division I-AA playoff participant
Rankings from NCAA Division I-AA Poll

The 1989 Idaho Vandals football team represented the University of Idaho in the 1989 NCAA Division I-AA football season. The Vandals, led by first-year head coach John L. Smith, 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 third consecutive conference title (fourth in five years), and made the I-AA playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, under a third head coach. Led by senior All-American quarterback John Friesz, Idaho finished the regular season at 9–2 and 8–0 in the Big Sky.

Hired in early January, Smith had been the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Idaho for four seasons (198285), all under Dennis Erickson, then went with him in the same capacity to Wyoming and Washington State.[1][2]

Notable games

Following two non-conference road losses to open the season at Washington State and Portland State,[3][4] the Vandals won nine straight, which included an undefeated conference record of 8–0. It was the only time in school history that the football team has posted an unblemished conference record.

The Vandals defeated Montana, their only conference loss the previous season, on a Thursday night in the Kibbie Dome in late September, televised by ESPN.[5][6] Idaho beat Nevada for the third straight year,[7] only the fourth time in the twelve meetings since the Wolf Pack joined the Big Sky in 1979. The Vandals defeated rival Boise State for the eighth consecutive year, the eighth of twelve straight over the Broncos before a record crowd of 17,600 in the Kibbie Dome.[8]

Division I-AA playoffs

For the fifth consecutive season, Idaho returned to the 16-team I-AA playoffs. The Vandals, on a nine-game winning streak, hosted Eastern Illinois at home but lost 21–38. The game was played before a sparse crowd at the Kibbie Dome two days after Thanksgiving and ended the Vandals' season at 9–3.[9]

Notable players

The 1989 team included John Friesz,[10] a future collegiate hall of fame quarterback as a three-year starter (1987–89). Friesz was the winner of the Walter Payton Award in 1989,[11][12] and was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the 1990 NFL Draft. He was in the NFL for the next decade with four teams.


September 22:00 pmat Washington State (Div. I-A)*No. 6L 7–4133,914[13]
September 97:00 pmat No. 3 (D-II) Portland State*No. 6L 20–2913,359[3][4]
September 167:00 pmNo. 5 (D-II) Sacramento State*W 45–3  9,100[14]
September 236:00 pmat Weber StateW 46–33[15][16]
September 285:00 pmMontana
ESPNW 30–2413,000[5][6]
October 73:00 pmat Northern ArizonaNo. 20W 41–3110,842[17]
October 141:00 pmat Montana StateNo. 15W 41–711,187[18]
October 211:00 pmEastern WashingtonNo. 14
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, ID
W 41–3412,500[19]
October 281:00 pmNevadadaggerNo. 9
  • Kibbie Dome
  • Moscow, ID
W 42–2215,500[7]
November 46:30 pmat Idaho StateNo. 7W 47–3110,380[20]
November 187:00 pmNo. 20 Boise StateNo. 5
W 26–2117,600[8]
November 251:00 pmNo. 15 Eastern Illinois*No. 4
L 21–38  6,025[9]


1989 Idaho Vandals football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
QB Pat West
QB Steve Nolan Jr
QB 13 Doug Nussmeier
WR 16 Lee Allen Sr
QB 17 John Friesz Sr
FL 25 David Jackson So
RB 26 Devon Pearce So
WR 30 Kasey Dunn So
FL Michael Davis Sr
G 50 Mike Rice Jr
G 54 Floyd Dorry Fr
C 53 Steve Unger Sr
OT 62 Shawen Smith So
OT 63 Troy Wright Jr
G 66 Chris Hoff Jr
OT Todd Neu Sr
TE 84 Scott Dahlquist Jr
Pos. # Name Class
SS 3 Brian Smith Sr
FS 22 Kris McCall So
CB 23 Charlie Oliver Jr
CB 33 Terry Green So
LB 39 Jimmy Jacobs Jr
LB 43 Roger Cecil Jr
LB 58 John Rust Jr
DT 59 John Sirmon Fr
DT 74 Vince Mann So
DE 87 Jeff Robinson Fr
DE 93 Mike Zeller Sr
DE 97 Brian Cockrell Fr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K 14 Thane Doyle So
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

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


Quarterback John Friesz was named to the all-conference team for a third consecutive year.[23] He was joined by center Steve Unger, guard Troy Wright, wide receiver Lee Allen, defensive end Mike Zeller, linebacker Roger Cecil, and cornerback Charlie Oliver.[23] Second team selections included wide receiver Kasey Dunn, tackles Todd Neu and Chuck Yarbro, linebacker John Rust, and safety Brian Smith.[24]

Friesz was the Big Sky's outstanding offensive player for a third straight year,[10] repeated as a first-team Kodak All-American in Division I-AA,[25] and won the Walter Payton Award.[11][12]

NFL Draft

One Vandal senior was selected in the 1990 NFL Draft, which lasted twelve rounds (332 selections).

Player Position Round Overall Franchise
John Friesz QB 6th 138 San Diego Chargers


  1. ^ Meehan, Jim (January 3, 1989). "Smith no newcomer to UI football". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 7A.
  2. ^ Boling, Dave (January 4, 1989). "Vandals make it official: Smith". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. C1.
  3. ^ a b Sahlberg, Bert (September 10, 1989). "Vandalized! Portland State stuns Idaho 29-20". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  4. ^ a b "Vandals' season off to scary start". Idahonian. (Moscow). September 11, 1989. p. 1B.
  5. ^ a b Stalwick, Howie (September 29, 1989). "Idaho bags game Grizzlies". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. B1.
  6. ^ a b Schulte, Chris (September 29, 1989). "Friesz, defense help UI short-circuit Griz". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  7. ^ a b Schulte, Chris (October 30, 1989). "Blocked kick helps UI sack Pack". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  8. ^ a b Schulte, Chris (November 20, 1989). "Friesz shows he's human in UI win". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  9. ^ a b Schulte, Chris (November 27, 1989). "Idaho: Long day, short playoffs". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  10. ^ a b "No surprise: Friesz cops Big Sky MVP". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 1, 1989. p. 1D.
  11. ^ a b "Friesz named Payton award winner". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. December 16, 1989. p. 1D.
  12. ^ a b "UI's Friesz will receive Payton Award today". Idahonian. (Moscow). December 16, 1989. p. 1E.
  13. ^ Grummert, Dale (September 3, 1989). "Cougars cruise past Idaho 41-7". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 1B.
  14. ^ Schulte, Chris (September 18, 1989). "Vandals' Friesz stings Hornets". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  15. ^ Schulte, Chris (September 25, 1989). "2nd half gives Smith 1st BSC win". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  16. ^ Hamilton, Linda (September 25, 1989). "Wildcats save some tricks for Broncos". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. D3.
  17. ^ Schulte, Chris (October 9, 1989). "UI whips, now roots for NAU". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  18. ^ Schulte, Chris (October 16, 1989). "UI gets better, 'Cats get blasted". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  19. ^ Schulte, Chris (October 23, 1989). "UI has best BSC start – barely". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  20. ^ Schulte, Chris (November 6, 1989). "Idaho can wait to celebrate". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1B.
  21. ^ Sahlberg, Bert; Grummert, Dale (September 2, 1989). "Cougars heavy favorites as rivalry resumes today". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). p. 4B.
  22. ^ "Idaho at Portland State: probable starting lineups". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). September 9, 1989. p. 5B.
  23. ^ a b "Numerous Vandals earn All-Big Sky honors". Idahonian. (Moscow). Associated Press. November 28, 1989. p. 6A.
  24. ^ "All-Big Sky: Second team selections". Idahonian. (Moscow). Associated Press. November 28, 1989. p. 7A.
  25. ^ "Friesz named Kodak I-AA All-American QB". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). December 2, 1989. p. 1B.