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Know your enemy 2015: Wyoming Cowboys

“In order to know your enemy, you must become your enemy.” —Chris Bradford

Tomorrow evening can't get here soon enough as Bronco Nation tries desperately to get that 8 turnover taste out of their mouth. Wyoming might present their own set of problems, but ultimately might be a good game to get the Broncos back on track. I previewed the Cowboys yesterday, so now let's get to know them just a bit better.


Ten things Bronco fans probably didn't know about the University of Wyoming or their low-oxygen lodging

10) Laramie, Wyoming—the stately home of the University of Wyoming—was founded in the mid-1860s as a tent city outpost near the Overland Stage Line route and the Union Pacific railroad. By 1868, town had gained some bit of notoriety when it became the western terminal of the Union Pacific Railroad...a distinction that lasted all of 3 months, when a new section of railroad was opened to Benton, Wyoming (at the time known as "the Most un-Laramiest Place on Earth"). Along with losing their hip, western terminal status, the town became lawless and "ungovernable" when "Big" Steve Long became the town's first marshal. Long and two brothers named Con and Ace (parents were gamblers, perhaps) Moyer began to terrorize the townsfolk...and not in a whimsical Yosemite Sam-type way...a murdery way. Long and the Moyer bros (who owned a town saloon with the quaint name "Bucket of Blood") started to harass the townsfolk and force them to sign over the deeds to their land, with non-compliance usually resulting in death. By October of '68, Long had killed 13 men and was actually looking like not the best choice for town marshal. Later that month, the county Sheriff N.K. Boswell, organized a "Vigilance Committee" that he marched into the Bucket of Blood to apprehend Long and the Moyer boys. Long and Moyer boys were given a stern talking to and told to never pull their hijinx within city limits again. Just kidding, Boswell's vigilantes dragged Long and his pals down the street to an unfinished cabin frame and lynched them all. This episode was particularly noteworthy because it marked the last time that anything cool happened in Laramie, Wyoming.

9) As I've noted before previous tussles with the Cowboys, the town of Laramie was actually named after a French-Canadian fur trapper named Jacques La Remee. La Remee set out on a trapping expedition in 1820 or 1821 to get his hands on some of real choice pelts, but never arrived at his rendezvous point and was never seen again. The liberal mainstream media blamed his disappearance on the Arapahoe Indians, but the Indians were all like "WHAAAT?". To this day, no one really knows what became of La Remee, but it apparently intrigued people enough to name a bunch of stuff after him, including the Laramie River, the city of Laramie, Fort Laramie, Laramie Peak, and Laramie County, Wyoming. Kinda makes you yearn for these simpler times, when all it took to get a location named after you was to be the first person there, the last person there, or the deadest person there.

Not La Remee, but you get the idea

8) The University of Wyoming was founded in 1886 and opened the following year...3 years prior to Wyoming's statehood on July 10, 1890 (Idaho became a state a week earlier...suck on THAT). The university was founded as a land-grant institution, which I believe is a special distinction that means its alumni become furious when you don't refer to their school as "the flagship university" of whatever state it resides in. The school was rather progressive given its non-metropolitan digs and was co-educational from the get-go. The school also offered a very diverse curriculum from the outset and students could learn arts and humanities as well as agriculture and military tactics. Personally, I think I might have just combined those 3 disciplines to save time and money and had the students create art by loading cows into howitzers.

7) Wyoming played their first season of collegiate football in 1893 and went undefeated that year even though they had no formal coach. Of course, the season only consisted of one game...and that game was against a slightly post-pubescent contingent of players from Cheyenne High School, but it was an undefeated season nonetheless and the Cowboys would like you to describe it as such. The following year, with an actual coach in tow (two coaches, to be exact—Fred Hess and Justus Soule), the squad again went undefeated...this time at 3-0, but with a SOS that would make a MAC team blush. Their 1894 gauntlet? Wins against Laramie Town Team (possibly the entire town), "Wilson Beauties" (if this team was comprised of anything but women or cosmetic school attendees, well...that's a terrible nickname), and Number 5 Hose Company (hopefully a fire department). The next year, Fred Hess handed the reins solely to Justus Soule and the squad again won 'em all...meaning one game...against Northern Colorado—but hey, it was an actual other college team! This amazing string of undefeated seasons (against the likes of powerhouses such as "the Alumni Team" and "Cheyenne Parochial School for Near-Sighted Midgets") carried on for another two years until Fred Hess took leadership of the squad again in 1898 and fell flat with an 0-4 campaign. The streak had been broken, but very few teams can claim that they won their first 9 games...or that those 9 games were spread out over five years...OR that they once beat a team called "Wilson Beauties" 16-0. You're one of a kind, Wyoming.



6) I always try to include at least one historically lopsided game on KYE, and for Wyoming, you need look no further than their 1949 game against Northern Colorado—a game the Cowboys won 103-0. Now, it's hard to tell whether Wyoming coach Bowden Wyatt was just in a bad mood or if UNC coach John Hancock was indeed the same John Hancock that signed the Declaration of Independence. Either way, the merciless beating took place in Greeley, presumably on the Bears' home field, although it might well have taken place in a woodshed behind the school where there were fewer witnesses. Wyatt went on to coach at Arkansas and Tennessee, winning Southwest Conference and Southeast Conference titles, respectively before calling it a career in 1962. I'd like to think that after his retirement, he moved in next door to John Hancock and perfected the "quit hitting yourself" routine.


Bowden "Leadfoot" Wyatt

5) "The Cowboys" has been the nickname of the University of Wyoming athletic squads for almost as long as the school has been around. Legend has it, that a bonafide cowboy assisted the football team back in their early years...although in what capacity, I'm not sure—possibly storing gatorade in his hat (ten gallons worth, natch). The name stuck and the Cowboys moniker (along with "Cowgirls") has been used ever since. "Cowboy Joe" is a live pony that does what ponies do (prance?) at home games, and "Pistol Pete" is the costumed mascot that kinda looks like a bow-legged G. Gordon Liddy. As far as the school colors are concerned...I believe that the first mascot sat on a chipped beef and mustard sandwich and the resulting pants-ruining color combo was a big hit with the students.

Cowboy joe

Don't ask him to whinny...he's a little hoarse.

4) Wyoming was the first state (it was a territory at the time) to give women the right to vote, all the way back in 1869 and a full 50 years before the 19th amendment was passed by Congress making it the law nationwide. The suffrage bill in Wyoming was presented by a saloon-keeper named William Bright and it's thought that the primary intent of the proposal was to attract women to the territory, where men outnumbered the gals by a count of six to one. The bill passed, and then the next legislative session decided they made a huge mistake and repealed it lest the women got any crazy ideas like wearing pants or something like that. Fortunately, the governor vetoed the repeal and the law was kept on the books. To this day, there are women in Wyoming. True story.

3) Wyoming's basketball team is easily the more heavily-decorated squad on campus historically, and made it to the Elite Eight six times between 1941 and 1967, and to the Sweet Sixteen 8 times in the same span. To put that in greater perspective, the Cowboys have only made the tournament field six total times since those salad days. Of course, no team can match the 1943 squad, which won the NCAA tourney over Georgetown to become national champions. The Cowboys defeated the Hoyas 46-34—a laughably low-scoring game by today's standards...but keep in mind, there was no 3-point line in 1943 and even if there had been it probably would've been thought uncouth to actually use it. You can watch footage of Wyoming's stunning(?) victory below and pine for a time when the champions didn't have to sit through "One Shining Moment" at the end.

2) Laramie, Wyoming is home to only about 31,000 residents but contains not only the 14,000 student University of Wyoming (45% of the town's population), but the Wyoming Technical Institute and the Laramie County Community College. So basically, if you're living in Laramie, Wyoming ask yourself these important questions:

  • Are you a student?
  • Are you a faculty member?
  • Are you a school administrator or parking attendant?
  • Do you sell books, backpacks, or t-squares?
  • Do you work at, or own a Taco Bell?
  • Are you the mayor?

If you answered "no" to any of these questions you overshot Denver.

1) The Cowboys play their home games on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The Stadium currently has a capacity of 30,514 and, at 7,220 feet above sea-level, is the highest altitude field in Division 1 football. The football field is named "Jonah Field" in honor of the Wyoming Gas Fields in the Green River Basin with the same name. The Wyoming Gas Fields are estimated to contain 10.5 trillion cubic feet (297 billion cubic meter) of natural gas and probably at least a scoop or two of unnatural gas. Not to nitpick, but if the football field is named after a natural gas field called "Jonah Field"...shouldn't the playing surface actually be "Jonah Field Field"? Or does the football field contain natural gas? Probably depends on what Craig Bohl had for lunch.