A Trip Back To 1966 - SJSU vs. Idaho

Exactly 45 years to the day after San Jose State faced the University of Idaho on November 5th, 1966, the two schools will meet again at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. To mark the occasion, Inside Sparta provides a rare look back at that game in 1966 with a recently discovered reel of 16mm black & white film.

On November 5th, 1966, exactly 45 years ago this weekend, the (then) San Jose State College Spartans played host to the University of Idaho Vandals' football team at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif. The match-up was anything but one of the key college football games that season. Two weeks after the game between San Jose State and Idaho was played, Notre Dame faced Michigan State in a battle between the nations' two top ranked teams at the "other" Spartan Stadium in one of the most famous and controversial games in college football history, a 10-10 tie that was billed as the "Game Of the Century".

The San Jose State Spartans entered the game against Idaho that weekend with a 2-5 win/loss record. However, just four weeks earlier, San Jose State quarterback Danny Holman (No. 14) had led the Spartans to their first ever victory over the University of California by a score of 24-0. San Jose State Head Coach Harry Anderson's team would finish the 1966 season with a rather pedestrian 3-7 record. In 1966, the Spartans played as an independent and did not belong to a conference.

The Idaho Vandals, coached by Stephen Musseau, were the defending Big Sky Conference champions, but they too were struggling that season. They came to San Jose with a 2-3 record, and would finish the season at 4-6.

San Jose State went on to win the game against Idaho by a score of 21-7, with Danny Holman running for a game clinching four yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put San Jose State up by two scores. Since 1966, the game has simply become a forgotten footnote in the history of both schools.

Four decades later, in the age of the internet, I was casually perusing a well known on-line auction website, searching as I often did under "San Jose State", when one particular item for sale caught my eye. It was a metal film canister containing a reel of 16mm black and white film. The canister was labeled "SJS vs Idaho 1966". The seller had no idea of the condition of the film, since he did not have a 16mm film projector. Since the film was in a metal canister, I guessed that it was in good condition and that it could be transferred to a digital format and viewed. Thus, I put in a winning $12 bid, and the film was sent to me a week later. Opening up the canister and pulling out a length of film and looking at it with a magnifying glass, I could see that it most certainly was a football game, and the film appeared to be in excellent condition.

A short time after receiving the film I located a place here in San Jose that could convert the 16mm film to a digital format. The cost to convert the film was considerably higher than the price of the film itself.

As it turned out, the film was exactly as advertised. It was nearly the entire 4th quarter of that game played back in 1966. Based on the slightly slowed down game action, and the framing of the action, it appears that the film was probably taken for the purpose of coaching analysis. No crowd or stadium shots appear, although the San Jose State cheerleaders and band can be seen, as well as the lower seating of the east side of Spartan Stadium. The old stadium scoreboard (pictured) can also be seen, with the words "Go Spartans Go" prominently displayed.

Some of the highlights on the film include:

SJS quarterback Danny Holman scoring his four yard touchdown on the second play of the film.

Just a small glimpse of the cypress bushes that used to cover the entire north end of the stadium, in lieu of the seating that would be added years later, can be seen.

San Jose State coaches and players are standing on the east (student) side of the stadium, which was the norm until 1999.

There are platforms for the cheerleaders to stand on, which were still in place in 1975 when I first visited Spartan Stadium.

Also visible are the rounded staircases (long since removed) that allowed one to walk right onto the field from the stands.

One can see how the post game etiquette has changed over the years. Today, players and coaches meet in the center of the field and shake hands and mingle. At the conclusion of the 1966 game, players can be seen immediately running off the field, without any celebration or socializing.

The infamous "MASH" public address speakers can also seen. They obstructed the view of many a Spartans fan from at least the 1940's until their removal this year.

The footage, courtesy of Inside Sparta can be viewed below

Mike Morgan is an Associate Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at mike@insidesparta.net

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