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.
- 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
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|
|1893–1894, 1898||Fred Hess||3||4–4||.500|
|1894–1897, 1899||J.F. Soule||5||8–1–1||.850|
|1909–1911||Harold I. Dean||3||11–12–1||.479|
|1913–1914||Ralph W. Thacker||2||1–10||.091|
|Totals||32 coaches||122 seasons||531–573–28||.481|
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.
|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.
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.
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 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.
- 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. 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
|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