Bohl has a record of 28-35 during his 5 seasons in Laramie
Will Bohl ever see his FBS record get to .500
How many years will Bohl get to build something special?
At the end of the disappointing 2018-19 Wyoming men’s basketball season, Davis Potter of the Casper Star-Tribune wrote a piece on Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman’s perspective of where the program current stands.
Cowboys basketball coach Allen Edwards put together back to back 20 win seasons in his first two years (something not done since Larry Shyatt’s first two seasons) before suffering through last season’s 8-24 debacle.
Burman never explicitly said Edwards was on the hot seat but he did share that there must be a “dramatic improvement” next season. Over his three seasons, Edwards is 44-45 with a CBI tournament championship but it’s clear that Burman is not satisfied with mediocrity.
Football is a different beast
After Wyoming’s football program hit rock bottom during the Vic Koenning era from 2000-2003 (5-29), the Cowboys following 3 coaches (Joe Glenn, Dave Christensen, and Bohl) have compiled a combined record of 85-111 (50-75 MW) since 2004.
|Record||30-41 (15-31 MW)||27-35 (16-23 MW)||28-35 (19-21 MW)|
|Record vs P5 Schools||5-6||0-6||0-8|
|Record vs Top 25||0-6||0-14||2-2|
There are certainly differences between the last 3 Wyoming football coaches but to quote Bill Parcells, “You are what your record says you are”. Joe Glenn’s teams stepped up to the challenge when they were faced against P5 competition raking in five wins in 11 attempts. In addition to the 5 wins over his tenure, they suffered heartbreaking overtime losses in 2006 at Virginia and at Syracuse.
His Pokes that season would finish the season 6-6 and sit at home that postseason. Glenn’s teams were unable to win games against the top of the conference and had a knack for coming up short in the games that they should have won. Following back to back losing seasons, Wyoming moved on.
More offense, better recruiting
Christensen entered as a highly regarded offensive mind from Missouri. Unfortunately for Christensen, he would take over Wyoming when the three headed beast of Utah, TCU and BYU were making their name as three of the top 15 programs in the country and laying waste to the rest of the conference.
In addition to the new strength of the conference, the Cowboys had non-conference games with many teams that wound up being top 15 programs (Texas, Boise State and Nebraska). 14 of Christensen’s 35 losses were against top 25 programs leaving Wyoming with a decent 28-21 record in games against teams outside of the top 25.
To be competitive during that span in the Mountain West meant you had to take out at least one of the top 3 schools, Wyoming was unable to do that and changed directions.
New culture needed
The administration decided the Oregon effect (uptempo spread offense and multiple uniform assortments) were the wrong direction for a school that represents a blue-collar state like Wyoming. In a move that many found baffling, the Cowboys were able to pull Craig Bohl from the three-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State Bison. Many wondered why Wyoming would be the school that Bohl would leave for when it was likely that many other power conference schools would be interested in his services.
Bohl’s teams were disciplined smash mouth teams that not only dominated the FCS level but frequently found themselves on the winning side in matchups against FBS competition. This was exactly the formula Wyoming needed.
Bohl’s first season showed glimpses of promise in a 4-8 effort but had a major regression in the second year to 2-10. The third year for Bohl started off with a bang, following a late night overtime win against Northern Illinois to start the season, the Cowboys traveled to Lincoln for a matchup with the Huskers.
The Pokes held strong for the first 3 quarters but ultimately came up short with Nebraska pulling away. Josh Allen had a few highlight plays and the future looked bright. Two weeks later, Wyoming would travel to Eastern Michigan where they lost 27-24. The Cowboys would go on to win 5 in a row including a 30-28 win over #14 Boise State.
It appeared the Cowboys were done “building something special”, something special was finally here… and then the end of the season happened. An unforgettable 69-66 loss at UNLV, a stop on a 2pt conversion to beat # 24 San Diego State 34-33 and the 56-35 thrashing in Albuquerque to the Lobos.
In spite of all the ups and downs, the Cowboys made it to the MW Championship Game. The Cowboys would be on the losing side of the rematch with SDSU and would fall to longtime rival BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl.
High Expectations, Mixed Results
Entering 2017, the expectations were high but quickly dampened when the Cowboys offense was a no-show in a 24-3 loss at Iowa. While the Pokes struggled in games against big programs (Iowa and Oregon) and lost a close game at Boise State, they won the games against teams they needed to and were sitting at 7-3 after a win at Air Force late in the season.
Josh Allen had a down year in the passing game but he carried the offense with his legs through the first 10 games of the season. Unfortunately for Wyoming, Allen missed the final 2 games of the season which resulted in disappointing losses to Fresno State (13-7) and San Jose State (20-17).
With Allen playing in the final 2 games, it’s not unlikely that the Cowboys win those 2 games, finish at 9-3 and the second best team in the MW. They would have missed the title game with the loss to Boise State but it would have been an improvement over the previous 8-6 season.
Reloading or Regressing?
Back to back 8 win seasons led the Cowboys faithful to be cautiously optimistic about the 2018 season. The Pokes were starting over on offense but it couldn’t be worse than the year before?
The offense was able to move the ball most of the first half of the season and the defense took a slight step back from the previous year. After a 2-6 start, the Cowboys made a quarterback change that aligned with a favorable back-end of the schedule and found themselves at 6-6 to finish a 3rd straight season without a losing record. Is new quarterback Sean Chambers the answer at QB or did Wyoming benefit from facing beaten down programs at the end of the year?
Does Burman accept mediocrity?
2019 is a huge year for Wyoming football and for the Craig Bohl era. With a giant slaying reputation that followed him from his time at North Dakota State, the Cowboys have struggled in games against the big boys. An 0-8 record against power conference schools with an average score of 43-13 is not promising.
In addition, outside of the 2016 season, Bohl is 0-2 against top 25 opponents. For a program that has seen an incredibly easier schedule than one the Christensen’s staff faced, the results thus far are underwhelming. If Wyoming misses out on a bowl game again, the program will track in the same cycle of the previous 2 coaches. Is an 8-6 record the most that Bohl will get out of the program? Is that enough for Burman’s vision of Wyoming athletics?
As of now, the one advantage Bohl has is that his program is competing at a higher level than when he began; something his 2 predecessors were unable to provide. If the Cowboys fall short of the postseason for a second consecutive season, is it possible that his time at Wyoming has already peaked?