Any rumors of amazing feats have been told and retold over the years. Several involve someone riding a horse into the bar and ordering a beer for themselves and one for the horse. One says someone rode a buffalo through the bar. But the most told involves Gus Johnson and his nail. Gun played for the Vandals in the 1962-63 season. He averaged 19 points and 20.3 rebounds. He was drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Baltimore Bullets and was runner up for rookie of the year.
When Johnson played at Idaho in 1963, he already had a reputation as a leaper of the highest order. One evening at the Corner Club, a local tavern on Main Street in Moscow, Johnson was requested by owner Herm Goetz to display his rare ability to the patrons. The Corner Club was a very modest establishment, converted from a white-stuccoed small chapel in the 1940s with hardwood floors and a beamed ceiling. From a standing start near the bar, Johnson touched a spot on a beam 11'6" (3.505 m) above the floor. This spot was ceremoniously marked with a nail by Goetz, who then proudly proclaimed that anyone who could duplicate the feat could drink for free. A 40-inch (1.016 m) diameter circle was painted on the floor, and both feet had to start inside the circle to ensure a standing start. A full 23 years went by with many attempts at Gus Johnson's Nail, including Bill Walton in the summer of 1984, but there were no successes.
That was until 1986, when the College of Southern Idaho basketball team from Twin Falls stopped in town in January on their way to a game against NIC in Coeur d'Alene. Joey Johnson, a younger brother of then NBA star Dennis Johnson, was brought into the Corner Club for a try. The 6'3" (1.905 m) guard had a 48" (1.219 m) vertical leap and could put his chin on a basketball rim (10 feet (3.048 m)) with a running start.
Johnson laced up his shoes and touched the nail on his first try but was disqualified because he did not start with both feet inside the 40-inch circle. The next attempt came from a legal static start but was just a bit short. On his third try, Johnson grabbed and bent the legendary nail, a landmark event in Vandal sports history. Goetz pulled the nail out of the beam and pounded it back in, a half inch (13 mm) higher.