The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT July 28, 2012 - Coeur d'Alene Press: Sports

The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT July 28, 2012

A fitting tribute will be to win

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Posted: Saturday, July 28, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 10:31 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

For a lot of fans of Idaho Vandal athletics, Thursday was probably the saddest day in their program history.

Forget that other conferences no longer want to play football with you, all of that didn't make a difference by the afternoon.

Not after losing your voice.

BOB CURTIS, the school's longtime broadcaster of football and basketball games, passed away on Wednesday night at his home in Colfax. He was 87 years old.

He'd also been selected to the Vandal Hall of Fame, North Idaho Hall of Fame, Inland Empire Hall of Fame and was a 2008 recipient of the National Football Foundation Chris Schenkel Award.

But all that might be as impressive as calling 540 consecutive University of Idaho football games.

If the team played at least 11 games a season - that's 49 years of not missing a game.

Pretty impressive.

Former Vandal coach Dennis Erickson called him the "greatest Vandal" he knew when speaking of his longtime friend on Thursday, and I can't say that I'd argue with that.

Curtis was a fixture for the program from the time he was hired, didn't let his listeners down and most of all, didn't let his team down - no matter what the score might have been.

He also had the press box named after him at the Kibbie Dome.

WHAT IS next for the rest of its athletic programs is a little more unclear.

On Thursday, members of the striking Mountain West Conference told both Idaho and New Mexico State thanks, but no thanks when it comes to joining for football.

Now where does that leave the Vandal football team?

What might happen is the team will play as an independent in 2013, able to schedule whoever they want - whether that's Washington State, Oregon State or even, Montana State.

Who knows, maybe after a couple years of not playing each other, maybe they'll find a date to travel to face Boise and reignite that rivalry that has gone way too long since its last matchup.

Stranger things have happened when teams have played in honor of a beloved figure — whether a former player, coach or announcer.

When longtime Cubs announcer Harry Carey passed away in 1998 during spring training, the team found a way into the playoffs.

Not that I’d go as far as to predict that the Vandals will taste a ton of success this coming season, but it might not be that far off.

A good start to the football season, combined with winning a few more conference games, the program could be well on the way to remembering its voice the best way possible.

And also reminding people of what they’re missing by taking their ball and going home.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com.

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