To say that 2012 has been a rough year for the Wyoming Cowboys would be a major understatement. Before this season kicked off, the team in Laramie had something that a middle-of-the-road Mountain West squad so rarely possess, expectations.
Quarterback Brett Smith was coming off a spectacular freshman year where he earned First Team Freshman All-American honors from two major outlets, and was the Mountain West Freshman of The Year.
Some prognosticators, including myself, picked Wyoming as a dark-horse candidate to compete for a Mountain West championship. Outside of the Texas Longhorns in week one, the Cowboys had a very manageable schedule leading up to the conference opener October 6 against the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Hindsight is 20/20 and the thought of what could have been are all that is left as Wyoming sits at 1-6 overall and 0-3 within the Mountain West. Smith suffered a concussion in the overtime loss to the Toledo Rockets and was unavailable for the Cal Poly Mustangs. Unable to contain the Cal Poly run game, the Pokes lost to the FCS opponent to go 0-3.
Smith returned to lead the Cowboys to an overtime win in Moscow over the Idaho Vandals but fell in overtime a week later in Reno. This time it wasn’t injury that sidelined Smith late in the game but an unsportsmanlike conduct that resulted in ejection.
Then there was the incident in Colorado Springs. At the end of the game with time ticking down, Connor Dietz left the field with an apparent injury, where his backup Kale Pearson scored on the following play to put the Falcons on top for good.
Cowboys head coach Dave Christensen wasn’t buying the injury, and accused Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun of ordering a fake injury to stop the clock and strategize a play. The post-game moment of Christensen’s tirade was captured on YouTube and as they say, the rest is history.
Fined $50,000 and suspended for this week’s game against the Boise State Broncos, the video was apparently too much for the Wyoming AD Tom Burman to let slide. The apology by Christensen was not enough to offset the damaging image of his four letter tirade.
Just this past weekend, the Pokes were brutalized by the Fresno State Bulldogs 42-14 for their third loss in a row.
College football brings sobering realities as fast as feel good stories. The ugliness of one bad frustration-filled moment has overshadowed a program thought to be moving in the right direction. Job security is now a major question for coach Christensen who is witnessing his reputation and season spiral out of control.
An upset against the Broncos in Memorial Stadium this Saturday would be monumental as far as confidence, but more importantly, give the Cowboys hope for 2013.
Such a word has already been lost for this season, but it is always available the next.