University of Wyoming Football

University of Wyoming Football

The Wyoming Cowboys are a college football team that represents the University of Wyoming. They compete in the Mountain West Conference of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of NCAA Division I and have won 15 conference titles. The head coach is Craig Bohl, who entered his first season in 2014.

The Cowboy football program has been among the most notable of “stepping stone” programs due to the success of its former coaches. Coaches such as Bowden Wyatt, Bob Devaney, Fred Akers, Pat Dye, Dennis Erickson and Joe Tiller were at Wyoming immediately prior to gaining notoriety at bigger football powerhouses.


Conference affiliations

  • 1893–1904: Independent
  • 1905–1908: Colorado Football Association
  • 1909–1937: Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference
  • 1938–1961: Mountain States Conference
  • 1962–1998: Western Athletic Conference
  • 1999–present: Mountain West Conference

Conference championships

Wyoming has won fourteen conference championships, ten outright and four shared.

Season Conference Coach Overall Record Conference Record
1949 Mountain States Conference Bowden Wyatt 9–1 5–0
1950 Mountain States Conference Bowden Wyatt 10–0 5–0
1956 Mountain States Conference Phil Dickens 10–0 7–0
1958 Mountain States Conference Bob Devaney 8–3 6–1
1959 Mountain States Conference Bob Devaney 9–1 7–0
1960† Mountain States Conference Bob Devaney 8–2 6–1
1961† Mountain States Conference Bob Devaney 6–1–2 5–0–1
1966 Western Athletic Conference Lloyd Eaton 10–1 5–0
1967 Western Athletic Conference Lloyd Eaton 10–1 5–0
1968 Western Athletic Conference Lloyd Eaton 7–3 6–1
1976† Western Athletic Conference Fred Akers 8–4 6–1
1987 Western Athletic Conference Paul Roach 10–3 8–0
1988 Western Athletic Conference Paul Roach 11–2 8–0
1993† Western Athletic Conference Joe Tiller 8–4 6–2

Head coaches

Tenure Coach Seasons Record Pct.
1893–1894, 1898 Fred Hess 3 4–4 .500
1894–1897, 1899 J.F. Soule 5 8–1–1 .850
1900–1906 William McMurray 7 16–11–1 .589
1907–1908 Robert Ehlman 2 3–3 .500
1909–1911 Harold I. Dean 3 11–12–1 .479
1912 L.C. Exelby 1 2–7 .222
1913–1914 Ralph W. Thacker 2 1–10 .091
1915–1923 John Corbett 7 15–44–3 .266
1924–1926 W.H. Dietz 4 14–18–2 .441
1927–1929 George McLaren 2 3–14 .176
1930–1932 John Rhodes 3 10–15–2 .407
1933–1938 Willard Witte 6 16–30–3 .357
1939 Joel Hunt 1 0–7–1 .063
1940 Okie Blanchard 1 1–7–1 .167
1941–1946 Bernard Oakes 3 6–20–2 .250
1947–1952 Bowden Wyatt 6 39–17–1 .693
1953–1956 Phil Dickens 4 29–11–1 .720
1957–1961 Bob Devaney 5 35–10–5 .750
1962–1970 Lloyd Eaton 9 57–33–2 .630
1971–1974 Fritz Shurmur 4 15–29 .341
1975–1976 Fred Akers 2 10–13 .435
1977–1979 Bill Lewis 3 14–20–1 .414
1980 Pat Dye 1 6–5 .545
1981–1985 Al Kincaid 5 29–29 .500
1986 Dennis Erickson 1 6–6 .500
1987–1990 Paul Roach 4 35–15 .700
1991–1996 Joe Tiller 6 39–30–1 .564
1997–1999 Dana Dimel 3 23–12 .657
2000–2002 Vic Koenning 3 5–29 .147
2003–2008 Joe Glenn 6 30–41 .423
2009–2013 Dave Christensen 5 27–35 .435
2014–present Craig Bohl 5 25–35 .417
Totals 32 coaches 122 seasons 531–573–28 .481

Bowl games

American football on the field with spectators in the stands.

Wyoming defeated UCLA in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl to end their six bowl game losing streak.

The Cowboys have appeared in fifteen bowl games and have a record of seven wins and eight losses (7–8). Their most recent bowl appearance came in their 37–14 win over Central Michigan in the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Wyoming has participated in 15 bowl games, with the Cowboys garnering a record of 7–8.

Season Coach Bowl Opponent Result
1950 Bowden Wyatt Gator Bowl Washington & Lee W 20–7
1955 Phil Dickens Sun Bowl Texas Tech W 21–14
1958 Bob Devaney Sun Bowl Hardin-Simmons W 14–7
1966 Lloyd Eaton Sun Bowl Florida State W 28–20
1967 Lloyd Eaton Sugar Bowl LSU L 20–13
1976 Fred Akers Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma L 7–41
1987 Paul Roach Holiday Bowl Iowa L 19–20
1988 Paul Roach Holiday Bowl Oklahoma State L 14–62
1990 Paul Roach Copper Bowl California L 15–17
1993 Joe Tiller Copper Bowl Kansas State L 17–52
2004 Joe Glenn Las Vegas Bowl UCLA W 24–21
2009 Dave Christensen New Mexico Bowl Fresno State W 35–28 2OT
2011 Dave Christensen New Mexico Bowl Temple L 37–15
2016 Craig Bohl Poinsettia Bowl BYU L 21–24
2017 Craig Bohl Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Central Michigan W 37–14


War Memorial Stadium was built in 1950 with an original capacity of 20,000 fans; the current capacity is 29,181 after the completion of 2009-2010 stadium upgrades.

It is the highest Division I FBS football stadium in the nation; the elevation of its playing field exceeds 7,200 feet (2,195 m) above sea level. The playing surface was natural grass until 2005, when infilled artificial turf was installed.

Prior to War Memorial Stadium, the Cowboys played at Corbett Field, a small field located southeast of Half Acre Gym where the Business Building and the Student Union parking lot now sit. It was named for John J. Corbett, longtime all-sport coach and director of physical education at the school. The field was the first official stadium for the Cowboys; previously they had played on Prexy’s Pasture, the main green of the school.


Bronze Boot

The Bronze Boot is awarded to the winner of the college football game between Wyoming and Colorado State, in nearby Fort Collins. The annual game has evolved into one of the most bitterly contested rivalries in college football. The teams have waged the “Border War” one hundred times since the schools began playing in 1899, playing every year except 1901, 1902, 1906, 1907, 1918, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1943, 1944, and 1945. This is one of the oldest interstate rivalries west of the Mississippi River, and the oldest west of Lawrence, Kansas. The series is the oldest rivalry for both schools and the “Border War” has been played in three different centuries.

Paniolo Trophy

The Paniolo Trophy is awarded to the winner of the college football games played between Wyoming and Hawai’i. This rivalry started in 1979 when Hawai’i joined the WAC conference and was played annually until 1997, shortly before Wyoming joined the newly formed Mountain West Conference. Hawai’i joined the MWC as a football-only affiliate member in 2012, renewing the rivalry.

Bridger’s Battle

Bridger’s Battle is the name for the college football games played between Wyoming and Utah State, the winner of which is awarded the trophy of the rivalry, a .50 caliber Rocky Mountain Hawken rifle. The rivalry started in 1903, and renewed as an annual game in 2013 when Utah State joined the Mountain West Conference.

Notable players

Adam Goldberg

Jay Novacek
  • Mike Dirks – tackle – part of one of college football’s best defenses in 1966 and 1967. He was selected as an All-American and All-Western Athletic Conference performer. He co-captained Wyoming’s 1967 WAC Championship football team that finished fifth in the nation. Led the Cowboys to a 10-1 record and berth in the 1968 Sugar Bowl. He was part of the Cowboys line that was the nation’s best rushing defense for two consecutive seasons. No team in the nation has since allowed fewer rushing yards than the 1966 and 1967 Wyoming defenses. Dirks produced 71 tackles, 30 unassisted tackles, and 26 tackles for a loss. He was inducted into the Wyoming Cowboys Athletic Hall of Fame on October 29, 1993.
  • Adam Goldberg (born 1980), NFL offensive tackle. He became only the third junior in University of Wyoming football history to be elected a team captain when he was voted a captain by his teammates in the spring of 2001. He was Honorable Mention All-America and two-time First-team All-Mountain West Conference. He started 44 of 45 career games.
  • Jerry Hill (born 1939) – running back – was selected as Wyoming’s Football Player of the Century during fan balloting in 1992.[9] He was selected as an All-Skyline Conference running back in 1959 and 1960. In those two seasons, Hill was Wyoming’s leading rusher. During his career, the Cowboys posted a 25-6 record. Hill was a member of the club that won the 1958 Sun Bowl. His career would finish with 1,374 rushing yards on 288 carries. He was inducted in the Wyoming Cowboys Athletic Hall of Fame on October 29, 1993.
  • Jim Kiick (born 1946) – running back – Wyoming’s leading rusher for each of his three seasons, 1965-67. He totalled 1,714 yards and ten touchdowns on 431 carries, and 561 yards and five touchdowns on 52 pass receptions. He was the first player ever to earn first-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors three times. Kiick was co-captain of the team as a senior. He was named the Most Valuable Player in the 1966 Sun Bowl victory over Florida State, rushing 25 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and catching four passes for 42 yards. He also played in the 1968 Sugar Bowl against LSU, rushing 19 times for 75 yards and a touchdown, and catching five passes for 48 yards. Kiick played in the 1968 Senior Bowl, and was selected to play in the 1968 College All-Star Game.
  • Jay Novacek (born 1962) – tight end – was a two sport All-American at Wyoming, also excelling in track. He was the Wyoming record holder in the decathlon and pole vault. As a football player, he was selected to the Kodak All-American football team in 1984. The selection was attributed to setting an NCAA record for receiving yards per receptions by a tight end. Novacek finished his Cowboys career with 83 career receptions for 1,536 yards and 10 touchdowns as a tight end. He was inducted in the Wyoming Cowboys Athletic Hall of Fame on October 29, 1993. He was also inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame on July 19, 2009.

Honors and awards

  • Mike Dirks, First Team All-Western Athletic Conference, 1967
  • Mike Dirks, Football writers of America, Look Magazine, Newspaper Enterprise Association All-American, 1967
  • Mike Dirks, Team Co-Captain on NCAA record setting defense
  • Marcus Harris, Fred Biletnikoff Award
  • Marcus Harris, inducted into the Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame on September 24, 2004.
  • Jerry Hill, First Team All-Skyline Conference, 1959, 1960
  • Jerry Hill, Selected Wyoming Football Player of the Century, 1992
  • Jerry Hill, Honorable Mention All-American, 1959, 1960
  • Jerry Hill, Admiral Emory S. Land Award Winner
  • Jim Kiick, Tailback, Most Valuable Player, 1966 Sun Bowl
  • Leonard Kucewski, Guard, Most Valuable Player, 1958 Sun Bowl
  • Jay Novacek, First Team All-Western Athletic Conference, 1984
  • Jay Novacek, Football All-American, 1984


Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of May 5, 2017[13]

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
vs Missouri vs Weber State vs Montana State vs Tulsa vs Texas Tech at Arizona State
at Texas State at Texas Tech at Northern Illinois vs Northern Colorado vs Portland State vs New Mexico State
vs Idaho vs Utah vs Ball State at Illinois vs Appalachian State
at Tulsa at Ball State at Clemson at North Texas

Controversy and documentary

In 1969, fourteen black team members wore black armbands to a practice, intending to protest the racism they had been victims of at their last game with an upcoming opponent, the Brigham Young Cougars. Coach Lloyd Eaton threw them off the team, “triggering an uproar that consumed the rest of the football season and much of everything else in the tiny college town of Laramie, Wyoming.”

In 2018, filmmaker Darius Monroe released a documentary short about the athletes: Black 14. The short “uses only archival footage to tell the story, mostly from local ABC and NBC affiliates in Wyoming, letting the principals – from the students, to the coach, to the school president and even the state’s governor – speak for themselves


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