MOSCOW — To former Idaho football coach Dennis Erickson, longtime broadcaster Bob Curtis was the best Vandal in the world.
Curtis, who during one stretch called 540 consecutive University of Idaho football games, passed away on Wednesday night at the age of 87 at his home in Colfax, Wash., the school announced.
No cause of death was given.
Erickson began coaching at Idaho as offensive coordinator in 1974, before head coaching stints in Moscow 1982-85 and again in 2006.
“He was just a great friend,” Erickson said. “Since I was an assistant (at Montana State) in 1972, he was a great friend of mine and as good a Vandal as there was in the world.”
Despite Erickson leaving for other coaching oppritunites, the two remained close.
“We always kept in contact, even after I went to Miami,” Erickson said. “He was one of my favorite people in the world. It’s really sad. Him and (his wife) Lynn were really good friends of mine. Bob was full of life all the time — and he had a good voice too.”
As a senior attending Washington State University, Curtis started calling games for Idaho, Montana and Washington. In 1958, the University of Idaho hired Curtis as its play-by-play announcer for football and basketball, remaining in the position until his retirement in 2004.
“I couldn’t be more sad to hear of the passing of Bob,” Idaho football coach Robb Akey said. “He was a great man, a great friend and a great Vandal. I was proud of the friendship we had. My thoughts and prayers go out to Lynn and the family. We’ll miss Bob — he was a great Vandal; a legend.”
“Words can’t describe what he meant to the Vandal family,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said. “His accomplishments as a broadcaster are legendary and for so many years the sound of his voice was the sound of Vandal athletics.”
Curtis called Idaho games for more than 50 years until his retirement. He’s a member of the Vandal Athletics Hall of Fame, North Idaho Hall of Fame, Inland Empire Hall of Fame and was the 2008 recipient of the National Football Foundation Chris Schenkel Award. Curtis was voted the Idaho sportscaster of the year 33 times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and was the voice of the North Idaho Sports Banquet for many years.
“Today the University of Idaho suffered a great loss with the death of Bob Curtis,” Idaho president M. Duane Nellis said. “Bob was the voice of the Vandals for more than 50 years. He brought the Vandal spirit to more than 500 football games and hundreds of basketball games. Bob is a Vandal icon that will be missed dearly. Our hearts go out to the Curtis family.”
Curtis called the 1998 season finale when the Vandals beat Boise State on a risky two-point play in the last seconds of the game — a win that sent the team to the Humanitarian Bowl.
Of the athletes he watched during his years in the press box and courtside, 41 are in the Vandals Athletics Hall of Fame.
Services will be held on Friday, Aug. 3 at 10 a.m. at the Baptist Church in Colfax.