Coach's Corner

Idaho's new head coach, Nick Holt, is no stranger to Moscow. He is embarking on his second season there in hopes of turning around that program. If he does, or better said, if he is given a chance, then he should immediately vault out of there before the axe falls on his neck.

He knows the challenge ahead of him and he knows every coach who preceded him to his current position. Holt has served there before and knows he follows Tom Cable, Chris Tormey, John L. Smith, Keith Gilbertson, and Dennis Erickson.

Cable got fired but all the others moved on as soon as they proved they could win. That's what the Idaho job is. It is a stepping stone position to hopefully get a better division-1 head job.

Holt has spent time with Pete Carroll and it showed in his first game against cross-border rival WSU in their opener. The Vandals gave up 14 points before the game had hardly started then dug in and made the Cougars work for their victory. The final score of 38-26 testifies how well prepared Holt had his team. They were under-manned and under-sized but still fought the Cougars hard right till the end.

One would have to think that the Vandals believe they can finally beat the Huskies. Although history isn't on their side, (the Huskies are 32-2-2 and have won the last 16 straight going back to 1940) the Vandals no doubt must think that they will be playing Washington at the right time. If ever they were to pull the upset, this would seem like the time.

However, Nick Holt just might be facing Washington at the exactly the wrong time. Washington will not be taking this game lightly. They will be focused as much as ever on getting a win. It is almost unthinkable that they won't.

Still, Holt is doing a great job there and you can bet that he will have his team well prepared no matter what the odds. The sad reality for him though, is Idaho hasn't really won since they went into big time D-1 football.

The winningest coach in the history of Idaho football was Keith Gilbertson, who finished his service there with a 28-9 record. He had won two Big Sky Championships in a three year period then went on to the UW, Cal, the Seahawks, back to the UW, and is now back to the Seahawks.

His predecessor at Idaho was Dennis Erickson who used the position to step to Wyoming, then WSU, then Miami, then the Seahawks, then Oregon State and then the San Francisco 49'ers.

John L. Smith, stepped from Idaho to Utah State then to Louisville, and is now at Michigan State.

The coach who followed Smith as the Vandal head coach was Chris Tormey, who had played there, started in coaching there and helped coach the National Champion Washington Huskies before going back to Moscow as their head coach. He won the Big Sky a couple of times, and then moved on to Nevada before landing back with the Huskies.

All of those guys won championships at Idaho in the Big Sky Conference.

Unfortunately, Tom Cable, who followed Tormey, never got the chance to move up, simply because, right when he got the job, Idaho decided to move up itself to division-1. Cable got clobbered by the higher level schools. I ran into the Vandal wrath once for writing in a newspaper article that implied the Vandals were out of their league. I stand by my original premise in that I believe their natural and best suited conference is still the Big Sky. Their teams always play hard but are over matched against the likes of the Cougars, Huskies, Ducks, and other big college programs. I don't care if they are in the same Division 1 level - they don't get the same quality of athletes as do the bigger schools.

Before joining their current league, the Western Athletic Conference, the Vandals were actually in a conference called The Sunbelt Conference that featured natural rivalries like Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas, and Louisiana-Lafayette.

They have now moved into the WAC where they at least have a little more geographic identity. Boise State and Fresno State are obviously the king pins in the WAC but at least Idaho should be able to compete with everyone including Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico State, Utah State, San Jose and Louisiana Tech.

How La Tech fits into that geographically, I have no idea.

I know Coach Holt is doing a good job with his kids because I watched their game against WSU and they played really hard and were actually making a game of it until two bombs blew them away. Sound familiar?

The Idaho Vandals should listen to the words of the great PLU legendary coach, Frosty Westerling, who always claimed, "The big time is where you're at." For years the Vandals were dominant in their own league but have been simply awful since moving up. Hopefully, Coach Holt will have a chance to prove he can win in the WAC.

But mark my words. If he does, he's as good as gone.

The stepping stone job became a stumbling stone job for Cable and probably marked his last and only head coaching experience. I hope the same fate doesn't happen to Holt. He deserves better. Top Stories