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University of Wyoming football

Gov Mark Gordon Is A Logan Wilson & Cincinnati Bengals Fan For The Day

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The one thing about Wyoming is, we stand by our people (at least in the sports world).

It’s well-known how Wyoming feels about Buffalo Bills quarterback — and former UW QB — Josh Allen.

But the support shown toward UW alum and now Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson is unmistakable.

Wyoming is bleeding orange this weekend which isn’t uncommon as many are already Broncos’ fans.

But this weekend, Wyoming’s orange has a Bengals shade to it.

On Sunday morning, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon let the public know that he’s all behind Logan and Cincinnati.

“From the Mustangs to the Cowboys and now the Bengals. Good Luck to Wyoming native Logan Wilson and his Cincinnati teammates today in Super Bowl LVI,” Gordon said on his Facebook page.

To complement the sentiments, he also posted a photo of the two grinning together.

Gordon doesn’t fare too badly in the photo either. He’s not dwarfed. That’s not to say Gordon could join him on the field but he looks pretty good for being more than twice Wilson’s age.

He also posted a montage of photos showing Wilson as a player for Casper, the University of Wyoming, and the Cincinnati Bengals.

The governor’s post is performing quite well with over 500 likes in under an hour.

Perhaps Gordon could ask Logan to join him when discussing the budget on Monday.

All of us at Cowboy State Daily wish Logan Wilson the best of luck.

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Former UW Cowboy Donates $1M To Improve War Memorial Stadium

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A former University of Wyoming football player and his wife have given a generous donation to support planned renovations for the university’s War Memorial Stadium.

Cody Ritchie and his wife Patsy donated $1 million to support west-side upgrades to the stadium, according to university officials. This is the first major gift to support these renovations.

“Although my time on the football team was brief, I have been a Wyoming Cowboy fan since we moved to Wyoming in 1976,” Ritchie said.

The improvement project is still being finalized but will include improvements and upgrades to the restrooms, concessions, seating, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and the press area. The project will be supported by private gifts and funding from the Wyoming State Legislature.

“Cody and Patsy are so passionate about this university and so committed to the overall mission of UW athletics,” Tom Burman, UW athletics director, said. “Cody talks frequently about the importance of the Cowboys as a means to keep engaged when you are forced to start your career outside of Wyoming. Tracking the Cowboys from long distance keeps you engaged with your college and brings you back to campus.”

Ritchie was born in Canada, and his family moved to Wyoming when he was 11. He attended junior high in Cody and graduated from Natrona County High School in Casper.  

After high school, he attended UW, walking on to the football team and later playing rugby. 

In 1987, Ritchie earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UW and went on to earn a master’s in exercise sport science and athletic administration from the University of Arizona in 1991, where he was an intern for the Wildcat Club. 

“From the time I was 12 years old, I wanted to attend UW, where my older brother Linden also graduated,” Ritchie said. “My time at UW and our family’s years in Wyoming helped forge lifelong friendships that mean the world to me.”

Ritchie is now the founder, CEO and managing partner of Crest Insurance Group, a full-service insurance brokerage licensed in all 50 states. Crest Insurance Group employs more than 250 people in Arizona, California and Colorado.

The company specializes in commercial property, casualty and workers’ compensation insurance, bonds, employee benefits, personal auto insurance, umbrella and homeowners’ insurance, and individual life and health insurance.

The Ritchies are Wyoming athletics fans and avid supporters of the university, and this is the latest in a long line of gifts from the couple. They have also given in support of the College of Business, the Cowboy Joe Club, the Wyoming rugby team, War Memorial Stadium enhancements and athletics facilities projects.

“Living in Wyoming and graduating from UW have provided me with an immense sort of pride,” Ritchie said. “Being able to donate back to Wyoming athletics is an honor and a privilege. In doing so, it’s not just about bricks and mortar. It’s about reinvesting in people. The ‘giving-a-hand-up’ philosophy will help future generations of Cowboys and Cowgirls have a positive impact in our society. I ride for the brand.”

The Ritchies live in Tucson, Arizona.

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University Of Wyoming Football Attendees Chant “F— Joe Biden” During Saturday Game

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A crowd at the University of Wyoming football game on Saturday followed what appears to be somewhat of a trend and participated in an obscene chant disparaging President Joe Biden, a video posted to social media showed.

It isn’t clear how many people are repeating the chant at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, but their words can be heard distinctly: “F–k Joe Biden.”

The action received a mild rebuke from the University of Wyoming on Monday.

“The university doesn’t condone this type of behavior and encourages a family atmosphere at UW athletic competitions,” university spokesman Chad Baldwin said. “However, we recognize the right to free expression by our students and others. UW encourages respectful dialogue where there are political and other differences”

According to OutKick, a sports/political site founded by Clay Travis who replaced Rush Limbaugh on the radio earlier this year, this chant has become popular at college sports events all over the country, being heard at football games in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.

The chant also surfaced at anti-vaccine rally in New York on Saturday and a Luke Bryan concert in Ohio on Sunday.

At the show, Bryan appeared to laugh at the shouts but later strummed along to the chant.

“Hide the beer,” he laughed.

Trying to transition the crowd from the chant to his next song, Bryan lightly scolded the crowd by telling them the slogan “wasn’t nice” but said he loved them all anyway.

Saturday’s Wyoming clip was included in articles on a number of conservative website over the weekend including Breitbart and The Daily Caller.

The only major news site to mention the chant is Britain’s Daily Mail which reported the chants were also heard in Coastal Carolina, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Alabama State, Mississippi State, North Carolina State and Texas A&M.

More than 179,000 people had viewed the video of the UW football attendees chanting as of Monday morning. More than 250 people retweeted the video, with most of the users poking fun at the crowd for living in Wyoming in the first place.

“To be fair @wyoathletics@wyo_football are pretty irrelevant so they need something to get known for,” user Daniel Johnson wrote.

“PS… Wyoming comes to CT to play UConn next weekend, top 5 most liberal states in the country, this should be fun! Lol” user Nick G wrote.

“Wait aren’t we supposed to keep politics out of sports?” user Abby Kleinschmidt wrote.

“University of Wyoming is in Albany County. Albany County voted for Biden 48.8-46.1 in 2020. But it’s fun to chant in the U.S.A.,” user Dan wrote.

Some users also pointed out that coronavirus infection numbers continue to rise nationally and that people could likely get sick from attending the football game. Just over 36% of the state is fully vaccinated.

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Bill Sniffin: UW Game Day ‘Back To Normal’ – It Is Just So Much Fun For The Cowboy State

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

And by the way, the Pokes won last Saturday! But there was so much more going on besides a football game.

A real old-fashioned football weekend at Laramie had not occurred for over two years. But this weekend was just so much fun – the tail-gating, the banquets, the pomp, the huge crowds, and it even culminated with a nail-biter of a football game victory. 

I was there for most of it.  This column and these photos tell some of the stories that were occurring all over Laramie and Cheyenne during this festive weekend.

Fall weather in the mid-70s and just a slight breeze contributed to about as good an environment as in all of UW history.

We talked with tailgaters from Cheyenne, Yoder, Lander, Wheatland, and Laramie.  As you walked around the huge War Memorial Stadium, the smells of burgers, pizza, barbecue, burrito’s, and just about every other tasty item were in the air. My favorite was a breakfast burrito from the folks in Wheatland.

The bright gold color favored by Coach Craig Bohl was all over the place as folks dressed up in their golden best.  And yet, at the game, the fans sat in an organized manner so the crowd was striped, with sections alternately gold and brown.

Our weekend started Friday night with a gala event at the Governor’s Residence in Cheyenne where First Lady Jennie Gordon saluted individuals and organizations that had taken her Wyoming Hunger Initiative and made it a huge success.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield has become a major sponsor on the project.  When BC/BS also became the primary sponsor the UW’s game Saturday, it only made sense to incorporate the “Tackle Hunger” campaign into their game sponsorship, too.

A big crew of volunteers wearing “Tackle Hunger” tee shirts worked hard raising awareness of hunger issues in Wyoming, especially among young people.

The Cheyenne event Friday night was outside under a nice tent and included a spectacular meal.  And then the sky opened up and it rained like crazy for about 20 minutes.  The tent held up but those of us sitting on the edge got pretty soaked.  Gov. Mark Gordon was in a good mood and announced:  “Here in Wyoming, we never, never complain about the rain!”

We sat with Chuck and Katie Brown of Wheatland, Susan and Doug Samuelson of Cheyenne, and Kim and Mary Kay Love of Sheridan.

Author CJ Box was there and said the new TV series called Joe Pickett about his successful books is progressing nicely.  More on that later.  Very exciting news.

Some other folks there included Katie Legerski, Jonathan Downing, Diane and Jeff Gore and a slew of people from all around the state. I apologize for forgetting all their names. It was a who’s -who of generous Wyoming folks.

Later that evening, we attended the induction ceremony at UW of some fantastic former Cowboy athletes. They were also recognized during halftime of the game.  My personal favorite was “The Greybull Rifle,” Tom Wilkinson, who went on to fame in the Canadian Professional Football League.

Special note: the UW band was outstanding. They even performed a song from the rock group Queen.  Not an easy play for a marching band, I would assume.

There was a huge amount of tailgating events being held inside the football team’s practice facility. 

As for Covid, we saw probably 10 people masked up during the whole time outside.  Yet there was a nurse named Terri Garner roaming around with a mask on and holding a sign asking people to get vaccinated. She predicted this game would be a super spreader event for the state.

That truly was the only discouraging word I heard during the entire weekend.

It was a huge crowd, probably over 27,000.  Montana State brought a large group of fans, but the overwhelming fan base was pro-Cowboy “gold or brown.”  And yes, with less than one minute remaining, the Cowboys snatched Victory from the Jaws of Defeat, with a 19-16 victory.

We spent the second half in the Wildcatter Suites.  What a nice facility. Ran into Dave Crum of Casper, Judy and Don Legerski of Lander, and my old pal Gus Fleischli of Cheyenne.  Gus just turned 95 and is a World War II vet.

Keener Fry was all over the place.  He was truly everywhere from their tailgater stand, to the Hall of Fame banquet, to leading the folks at the Wildcatter Suites in cheering on the Pokes in the final minutes. He is in charge of UW Alumni Association.  

It is easy to love being in SE Wyoming on a game day in September. Life just does not get any better than this. It was a wonderful time full of fantastic Cowboy fans.

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UW Football Players Taking Online Classes Due To COVID

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming football team has gone virtual for the fall semester, with many team members choosing to take online classes to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

University spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that many of the football players have decided to take as many online classes as they could, due to an uptick in COVID cases both in Albany County and statewide.

“Due to the potential for an increased risk of transmission in a classroom setting (indoors, potential inability to social distance, mix of vaccinated/non-vaccinated people), many football student-athletes decided to take as many online classes as possible,” Baldwin said. “That said, there are still some football players who are taking classes in-person – such as upper-division classes that are only offered in-person.”

He added that 94% of the team’s members are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

University officials were insistent on the fall semester running as normally as possible. The university’s board of trustees agreed earlier this year that UW would move forward with in-person classes after more than a year of holding mostly virtual classes, with some in-person hybridization once the virus numbers lowered in the spring semester.

As of Monday, Albany County had 139 active coronavirus cases and Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie had six coronavirus patients but no available intensive care unit beds, according to the Wyoming COVID hospitalization tracker.

A total of 70 University of Wyoming students and employees tested positive for COVID-19 in the UW’s one-time testing program which started the fall semester, with the test positivity rate remaining consistent at just over 1%, according to data released by the university on Monday.

Students and UW fans will be allowed to attend football games in person this semester, a luxury that was taken away for much of the fall 2020 football season due to the pandemic.

This is in sharp contrast to the volleyball players at Eastern Wyoming College, about half of whom have either been infected with or were exposed to the virus in the last few days. The college had to cancel four upcoming games due to players being infected or exposed.

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UW Limits Sports Attendance After COVID Cases Rise

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming is reducing the number of fans who will be allowed to attend home football and basketball games until at least the end of the year.

Football attendance is being reduced to 5,000 fans allowed in War Memorial Stadium, down from the 7,000 allowed at previous games, for the remainder of the season.

Attendance at UW basketball games at the Arena-Auditorium will be set at a maximum of 2,000 fans per game through the end of the year.

These attendance numbers equate to 17% capacity for both structures.

The decision to reduce attendance grew out of a desire to keep fans, student-athletes, coaches, UW staff and community members as safe as possible during the recent increase in coronavirus numbers in Albany County and the state of Wyoming, university officials said.

Fans attending Cowboy and Cowgirl Athletics’ events are reminded that face coverings are required throughout the University of Wyoming campus at all times, including when attending games.  The mask requirement will be enforced at games by game management and law enforcement/security personnel.

All tickets sold through the UW Athletics Ticket Office will incorporate social-distancing guidelines when determining seat locations. 

UW Athletics, in connection with the Wyoming Department of Health, will continue to evaluate appropriate attendance numbers at UW Athletics’ events based on overall coronavirus conditions.

The Western Thunder Marching Band will not perform at the remaining home football games this season.  With the university moving to online instruction earlier than anticipated, all in-person classes, ensemble rehearsals and performances have been suspended.  

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Wyoming Movie Theater Chain To Broadcast 1st Cowboys Game Of Season

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The University of Wyoming Cowboys might be playing their first game of the season in Nevada this weekend, but a Wyoming movie theater chain is offering fans the chance to watch the game on the biggest screen possible (can anyone say “bragging rights?”).

On Saturday, the WyoMovies chain (which has locations in Casper, Cheyenne, Laramie and Rock Springs) will broadcast the Wyoming vs. University of Nevada game on at least one of its screens in every location.

Tickets are technically free, but attendees must buy a $10 concession voucher. Seating is limited to ensure proper social distancing, so those interested are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

This is the first Cowboy football game of the season, which started late due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The first Cowboy home game will take place on Oct. 30 against the University of Hawaii.

Kickoff for Saturday’s game is 5 p.m. and tickets are on sale now at WyoMovies.com. No word was given on whether or not you can attend the game shirtless covered in body paint, but we won’t tell if you don’t.

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UW Works To Limit COVID Spread After Freshman Players Test Positive

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Eleven cases of COVID-19 and close contacts among the University of Wyoming’s freshman football players have prompted the university to take action to limit the spread of the virus in that group of students, employees and the broader community.

The 31 freshman players will not engage in any athletic activities — including practice, workouts and in-person meetings — and the members are encouraged to shelter in place, where possible, for one week. Limited contact is a critical component to the shelter in place. During this time, team members will attend classes virtually.

Additionally, all football team members are being tested today (Friday) for the virus, and anyone who may have had close contact with a team member will be contacted by UW’s COVID Hub for testing.

The positive cases involving freshman football players were detected in UW’s bridge testing program through Vault Health.

While UW’s freshmen have been practicing with their football teammates, the freshman locker rooms are separate. And the freshmen all live in UW’s residence halls, not with teammates in off-campus dwellings.

Still, out of an abundance of caution, UW’s football team will not practice until the additional test results are received over the weekend.

“We are hopeful that these actions will limit the spread of the virus to the freshman football team members and that the rest of the team can resume its preparations for the shortened season that begins Oct. 24,” Athletics Director Tom Burman says. “We have been fortunate to have very little COVID prevalence among our football team until now, in part because of our rigorous testing program that began in the summer. Our ability to move forward with our shortened season depends upon limiting the infection, and we’re taking all appropriate steps to do so, including the aggressive testing program adopted by the Mountain West Conference.”

There have been four cases of COVID-19 detected among students — athletes and non-athletes — on each of floors 10 and 11 of one of UW’s residence halls, White Hall. As a result, all of the students on those floors are being told to shelter in place as well. However, students on those floors who have not been in close contact with infected individuals will be allowed to go to in-person class and leave for work or religious activities.

The actions were taken in accordance with UW’s newly updated COVID-19 indicators and tactics for Phase 3 of the university’s fall return plan. These allow for UW to respond quickly to outbreaks of the virus in certain programs and facilities at the university with targeted interventions to limit the spread of the virus.

As of noon today, the total number of active cases among UW students and employees stood at 164 — 127 students living off campus, 32 students living on campus and five employees living off campus. Of the 164 total, 31 were to be moved from “active” to “recovered” during the day. Some 100 people are in quarantine due to exposure to someone infected by the virus — 16 students on campus and 84 people off campus.

Gordon Supports Letting Cowboys Play Football This Year

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon supports the reopening of the University of Wyoming football program for a limited season if it can be handled safely, he said.

Gordon, in a Facebook post and tweet, said he has spoken with the governors of other Mountain West Conference states to examine the possibility of resuming football play this year.

“I’ve had good conversations with Gov. (Brad) Little of Idaho and Gov. (Gary) Herbert of Utah about our shared desire for a safe return of Mountain West Conference football,” Gordon said. “UW Athletics is working diligently on this issue and I believe progress is being made.”

The presidents of the 12 universities that make up the Mountain West Conference agreed in August to cancel fall sports because of concerns over the coronavirus.

However, MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson, in a statement Wednesday, said a number of groups are working to find solutions to the challenges of starting the football season this fall.

Those challenges include finalizing plans for frequent rapid response testing of student athletes. 

Michael Pearlman, a spokesman for Gordon, said the governor supports the idea of having players return to the field this year.

“If it can be achieved safely through the availability of frequent, rapid response testing,” Pearlman said in an email.

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Ray Hunkins: Mountain West Conference Punts On Football Season — Who Called The Play?

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By Ray Hunkins, guest columnist

In early August, the Mountain West Conference (“MWC”) announced an adjusted football schedule for the fall of 2020.

Just five days later the conference’s board of directors, citing concerns over health and uncertainties created by the coronavirus, overrode the decision and informed the public there would be no fall sports and no football season, a season that held much promise for our Cowboys.

The repercussions from the MWC decision were immediate and severe.

It is estimated the decision will cost the University of Wyoming $10 million to $15 million in lost revenue; this at a time when Wyoming state government generally — and the university specifically — are reeling from the combined effects of the coronavirus and the collapse of Wyoming’s energy economy.

The announcement dealt a blow to the morale of all concerned.

Sally Ann Schurmur, in her Aug. 16, 2020, column in the Casper Star-Tribune put it this way: “This is not something we will ‘get over.’ We are not being ‘ridiculous,’ ‘small minded’ or ‘selfish.’ This is a tragedy.” Indeed it is a tragedy. Sally’s eloquent eulogy for a lost football season reflects the feeling of many.

This was more than a decision about athletic competition. It was a public policy decision made by unelected higher education administrators, all but one from states other than Wyoming. 

The MWC’s board of directors, comprised of the presidents of the 12 member institutions, made the decision. If it turns out the presidents made the wrong decision, they will not be held accountable to most of the people and many of the institutions they have harmed.

“Where there is a will, there is a way” is an adage for the ages. Six of the 10 Division I Football Bowl Subdivision conferences had the will and found a way to play football. 

The service academies are playing. BYU is playing. Even our Wyoming high schools are playing.  The PAC 12 however, under the firm influence of California, Oregon and Washington and the politicians who run those states, opted not to play.

Are we to believe the schools that are playing football this fall were negligent or uncaring in choosing their courses of action? These schools say they can provide a safe environment. The Mountain West – at least the presidents who made the decision not to play– did not have the will, and therefore didn’t find a way.

There isn’t much transparency as to how or why the presidents’ decision was reached. Many questions are raised by the curious way in which the decision came about. 

For instance, why did the MWC Board cancel all fall sports such a short time after the conference office announced an adjusted football schedule? 

Who moved that the season be canceled? Who seconded the motion? What reports and written materials were given to the presidents? Who were the medical experts consulted and what advice did they give? Were there differences of opinion among the medical experts or among the presidents? 

Were the medical experts from the conferences that are playing consulted or even questioned? Did the presidents consult with the athletic directors, coaches, and governing boards of the institutions before voting on the motion to cancel the entire season?

What was their advice, or in the case of the governing boards, what direction was given? Can the transcript of the MWC board meetings dealing with this subject (and minutes of those meetings) be released and if not, why not? 

The president of San Jose State University, Mary Papazian, is currently the chair of the MWC board of directors.

She answers to a “chancellor” of the California State University system. So do the presidents of the other California universities that are members of the MWC — Fresno State and San Diego State. The Chancellor answers to a board that includes Governor Gavin Newsom and three other California politicians.

Those politicians are also members of the board of regents of the University of California system. Several of the schools in that system are members of the PAC 12 Athletic Conference which opted out of a fall football season. 

It could be argued that President Seidel of the University of Wyoming deserves some slack.

On the job for a month before being called on to cast such a consequential vote, he might not have had all the background and knowledge needed.

Nevertheless, in an interview he gave a lengthy defense of the MWC board’s decision and seemed to place himself in the deliberations from the beginning.

Reporter Davis Potter of the CST, in a room that appeared to be devoid of anyone else, interviewed Wyoming’s new president, dapper in suit and matching COVID-19 mask.

The interview was posted on YouTube. Unfortunately, the President’s words were muffled and garbled by reason of mumbling through the mask.  

From what could be discerned, President Seidel asserted the board’s decision was unanimous and based on the unanimous recommendation of medical experts advising members’ athletic departments.

According to the president, there were warnings of potential heart problems for athletes who might catch the virus. Although he parroted conclusions, no details were given and no evidence was offered. 

However, in an interview posted on the MWC website, Commissioner Craig Thompson seemingly contradicted Seidel by asserting the rationale for cancelling the season wasn’t anything more than “continued unknowns.” 

The commissioner went on to state the obvious regarding health concerns: “Different studies show different things, and it’s amazing that intelligent people can reach different conclusions.” 

It sounded like there was a smorgasbord of opinions available for the MWC board to choose from.

The MWC chose not to rely on the “different conclusions” of other medical experts. Were the conclusions chosen by the MWC board selected because they fit a desired narrative?

In a statement on its website, the MWC revealed, “numerous external factors and unknowns outside our control made the decision necessary.”

The MWC board embraced conclusions that other conferences and schools chose to reject. Why? What are the “external factors” that influenced the MWC board’s decision?

The action of a group (the MWC board) external to Wyoming is causing significant damage to the state, monetarily and in other ways. The lives and possible careers of student-athletes have been disrupted. What discussion took place at the board meeting about these factors?

The people of Wyoming deserve a full explanation for the MWC board’s decision. We need to know what “external factors” influenced the decision and whether another agenda was at work.

We need to know if President Seidel cast his vote at the direction of the board of trustees. We need the truth and we need transparency. Governor Gordon should see to it.

Tag: Ray Hunkins is a former president of the University of Wyoming Alumni Association, a former member of the University of Wyoming Foundation board of directors and was honored as a “Distinguished Alumnus” by the University in 2005.

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Who’s on Your Mount Rushmore of U.W. Cowboy Football?

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Former UW players Weigh-In On The Top Four Stars in Program History

By Cody Tucker, Cowboy State Daily

CHEYENNE — Sports are on a hiatus. That’s no secret.

Now, we are limited to online polls, all-time lists and dropping opinions about our favorite players, games, moments, etc. Daily, the University of Wyoming is asking fans on social media who the best players are in its storied history.

On my website, 7220sports.com, we just posted our 68th story in a series we call “Who wore it best.” Which UW football players “own” their jersey number is the basis of what was supposed to serve as a way to have new, fresh content on our site every day.

The best part for me is learning Cowboy football history.

For fans, it’s about the debate.

Let’s add to that — who would go on the Mount Rushmore of Wyoming football?

Four players who did more, meant more and own names that roll off the tongue from Tongue River to Evanston, Jackson to Pine Bluffs.

I’ve wrestled with this one. Only four? 

It has to be done. So, here goes:

Marcus Harris, wide receiver, 1993-96

For me, this one is a no-brainer. Harris was the NCAA’s all-time leading receiver when he left Laramie. He won the Biletnikoff Trophy, which is given to the nation’s top receiver. He still owns most of the pass-catching records in UW history: yards (4,518), receptions (259), single-season yards (1,650), single-game yards (260-Fresno State), single-game receptions (16-Iowa State). That’s just scratching the surface. Harris was also a Heisman Trophy candidate in 1996. He finished ninth in the voting. Harris was a seventh-round draft pick by the Detroit Lions. He never played a down in the NFL. That doesn’t matter when it comes to this vote.

Ryan Yarborough, wide receiver, 1990-93

Before that guy above broke every record in the book, they all belonged to Yarborough. He still owns the career touchdown mark at UW with 42, four more than Harris. Yarborough fit perfectly into Joe Tiller’s “basketball on grass” offense, hauling in 239 passes for 4,446 yards. He was a two-time All-American and held the NCAA record for most games with a touchdown reception with 27. “Yards” was a second-round pick of the New York Jets in 1994. He played just two seasons in the Big Apple and spent time with the Packers and Ravens. 

Mitch Donahue, defensive end, 1987-90

This super athlete came to Laramie thanks to Dennis Erickson, who spent just one season as the head coach at UW. He thrived under an “old guy no one knew,” Paul Roach. Donahue still owns the school’s all-time sack record with 49. That’s 19 more than his teammate, Pat Rabold. The Billings, Montana, product racked up a record 22 sacks in 1990. Three times that season — against Utah, New Mexico and UTEP — Donahue tallied three sacks in a game. He was a two-time Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Donahue was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth round of the 1991 NFL Draft. 

Casey Bramlet, quarterback, 2000-03

This Wheatland product won just nine games during his four seasons at UW. It was one of the lowest periods of Cowboy football. Despite the mounting losses, Bramlet always seemed to give off a ray of hope. Bramlet owns the school record for career yards (9,684), pass attempts (1,378), completions (767). He has the second-most touchdown passes with 56. So why on earth would Bramlet make this list? He got sacked, hit and beat up — and he got up every single time. He was an All-Conference player in all four seasons. He went undrafted in 2001, but spent time with the Bengals and Redskins. He played in NFL Europe and won the MVP of the World Bowl as a signal caller for the Hamburg Sea Devils.

Now, let’s rip my picks apart.

Not one of these guys ever won a bowl game. All played in the 90’s and early 2000’s. None had sustained success in the NFL. 

What about Josh Allen? Where’s Jim Kiick? No Eddie Talboom, Jerry DePoyster, Ryan Christopherson, Brian Hill or Jay Novacek?

There are plenty of greats to choose from, but the main factor in my picks — I saw them all play with my own eyes.

I played the part of Marcus Harris in the backyard, playing catch with my buddies as a kid in Cheyenne. At age 12, I flew by myself to Las Vegas for the inaugural WAC title game against BYU. Josh Wallwork, Richard Peace, Jay Jenkins, Jim Talich … my list of favorites could go on and on.

Let’s see who some former UW football players would put on their Mount Rushmore:

Jeff Boyle (1997-2000): Marcus Harris, Ryan Yarborough, Conrad Dobler, Josh Allen

Jovon Bouknight (2002-05): Jay Novacek, Marcus Harris, Ryan Yarborough, Josh Allen

Mitch Donahue (1987-90): Jim Kiick, (coach) Paul Roach, Randy Welniak, Conrad Dobler

Chase Appleby (2014-16): Brett Smith, Josh Allen, Brian Hill, Mitch Donahue

Mitch Unrein (2006-09): Josh Allen, Marcus Harris, Mitch Donahue, Jay Novacek

Don Clayton (1975-78): Paul Nunu, Conrad Dobler, Aaron Kyle, Kevin McClain

Brian Hendricks (2008-11): Jay Novacek, Jim Kiick, Marcus Harris, (coach) Phil Dickens

Ryan Christopherson (1991-94): Mitch Donahue, Ryan Yarborough, Jay Novacek, Josh Allen 

Coronavirus Leaves Wyoming’s Practice Fields — And Fans — Eerily Empty

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By Cody Tucker, Cowboy State Daily

LARAMIE — Craig Bohl’s parking space was empty.

So were the dozen or so others surrounding Wyoming’s head coach’s spot Sunday in War Memorial Stadium’s north lot.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Coming off an eight-win season and a dominating Arizona Bowl victory over Georgia State, excitement surrounding the program hasn’t been this high since the late 90’s. You remember? That’s when names like Joe Tiller, Marcus Harris and Josh Wallwork, among many others, were household names in Wyoming.

This spring, many were eager to see if quarterback Levi Williams could take the next step in his progression.

Who would replace Casper’s own Logan Wilson at linebacker?

Which kicker can attempt to fill the void left by the program’s all-time leading scorer, Cooper Rothe?

Can Xazavian Valladay threaten the school’s single-season rushing record?

Those questions — and plenty more — will simply have to wait. Year seven of Bohl’s tenure is on indefinite suspension.

Sunday, there were no whistles, pads popping or leaping catches.

Instead, the Cowboys’ home field emulated the wind-swept plains that surround the Gem City. The same can be said for the campus, which is typically bustling with students this time of year.

Fraternity row took on the appearance of a ghost town. Cross walks were empty. Traffic was nonexistent.

COVID-19, or coronavirus, a worldwide pandemic, is solely to blame.

The world is on hold. Wyoming football, which seems so small in the grand scheme of things, is no exception. The first of 15 spring practices were supposed to begin March 25. Instead, Bohl and Co. are hibernating in their homes, using video conferencing to do, well, everything.

Coaches are using computer software to implement workout routines, game plans, to check in with players’ academic progress and to recruit.

Yes, recruiting is being done via the internet.

Bohl and his assistants have been forced to virtually sell their vision. Their brand. The school. Laramie. Everything.

So is new head basketball coach Jeff Linder. In fact, he has already landed a pair of players, one from Arizona, the other from Illinois. Neither has stepped foot in the Cowboy State.

Imagine making your college choice after speaking with a coach and watching a virtual tour of campus on your laptop?

Crazy time we are living in, huh?

Of course, football and men’s hoops aren’t the only sports feeling the effects of COVID-19. UW’s golf, tennis, wrestling and swim teams all suffered a death nail. In late March, the NCAA closed the doors to fans. Hours later, players were sent home, too.

Five Cowboy grapplers were supposed to head to Nationals in Minneapolis. That didn’t happen.

The NCAA a week ago granted seniors in those spring sports an additional year at their respective schools. Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman expressed his concern about how the university would fund these additional scholarships. Burman himself took a self-imposed 20-percent pay cut. Bohl followed suit and donated $100,000.

Problem solved.

One problem at least.

No one knows when this pandemic will reach its peak in Wyoming and eventually sail out of town. Some are even questioning if there will be a football season at all. Bohl isn’t going there yet. He shouldn’t.

Things are bad enough.

These are unprecedented times. Handling a deadly virus isn’t exactly in the playbook. Like the university, fans will just have to go with the flow and play the waiting game. Unfortunately, that’s the new norm.

Spring is supposed to be a time of renewed optimism. You’re supposed to be opining about who the starting quarterback will be and why. You should be pointing out new, young stars who could make an impact this fall. This was the first opportunity to look at some of those new recruits.

Instead, we wait.

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Arizona Bowl was Wyoming Triumph, but also for Tuscon Local Charities

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By Dave Bonner, Powell Tribune

So it isn’t an ESPN bowl game.

That didn’t matter to fans of the University Wyoming and Georgia State University football teams who squared off Dec. 31 in the Arizona Bowl at Tucson.  And it sure isn’t a big deal to the folks who own, promote and produce the Arizona Bowl.

In fact, it’s by design. You can add a couple of exclamation points to that statement.

Of the 40 bowl games played this year, only two were not televised and controlled by ESPN/ABC, Fox Sports and CBS.

The Tucson Bowl was one of them. It was televised nationally by CBS Sports Network, a step down from the big names in sports broadcasting (61 million households vs. 86 million households for ESPN).  

The key is the matter of control.  To Tucson attorney Ali Farhang, the brains and the face behind the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, it’s everything.  He is the principal founder of the Arizona Bowl and the chairman of the board of the group which owns the bowl, now in its fifth year. 

He and his founding partners are insistent that the Arizona Bowl is a community-driven event. That’s one way of saying that bowl decisions will serve Tucson’s interest, not national TV programming.

That starts with game day scheduling and start time. An afternoon kickoff for the Arizona Bowl on New Year’s Eve is non-negotiable.

Tucson weather delivered for the Arizona Bowl last week. Fans basked under bright sun and a temperature of 62 degrees for the 2:30 p.m. game. 

Tim Medcoff, a law partner with Farhang who is also intimately involved in the Arizona Bowl, said the vision for the bowl grew out of a desire to remove “kind a black cloud over Tucson from days gone by.” He referred to the fact that Tucson in recent years had lost the Copper Bowl, MLB spring training,  PGA and LPGA tour events.

The road back, in the collective mind of Farhang and colleagues, was to look inward.

“Ali’s all about promoting everything that’s great about Tucson,” Medcoff said. “That includes the sunny weather of southern Arizona, the Air Force and military presence, the hospitality of the area and the great non-profits — the people who care about making others’ lives better.”

The economic impact in the area from a successful bowl game is, of course, a big deal. But giving  back to the community is not simply lip service either. The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl is one of a kind in donating all bowl proceeds to non-profits in the community.

“We do everything we can to make things better for Tucson,” Medcoff said. “We want to give back.”

And for the record, the Tucson Bowl is happy to have the CBS Sports Network as a partner.

“They told us they support everything we’re doing,” Medcoff said.

Final numbers have not been tabulated, but game producers expect that up to $400,000 in cash will be generated for non-profits of the community.  That’s net proceeds from ticket sales and concessions.

Wyoming did its part. The Cowboys scored a 38-17 win over Georgia State of the Sun Belt Conference on the field, but that’s not all. Some 10,000 Brown and Gold clad fans helped propel Tucson Bowl beer sales to a new record.

Kym Adair, who pulls most of the levers in making bowl operations go, said she was excited by the strong showing of Wyoming fans that pushed bowl game attendance to 36,892.

She should be.

Sales of cold ones broke the previous bowl game record by $100,000. If you’re counting, that record $100,000 translates into 14,285 more of the 16-ounce drafts sold at $7 each than in any previous year.  

A new official Arizona Bowl Brew was introduced at the game, a product of the local Barrio Brewing Co. Wyoming fans gave it a big thumbs up.

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