The Greatest Coaches in Wyoming Cowboys Football History [POLL]
As Wyoming football fans mourn the loss of former coach Joe Tiller, here’s a look back at the greatest coaches to ever wear the brown and gold.
J.F. Soule is the only undefeated coach in Wyoming history. As co-head coach in 1894 and coach from 1895 – 1897, he compiled a record of 8-0.
Aside from Soule, Bob Devaney has the highest winning percentage of any Pokes coach. From 1957 to 1961, the Cowboys won 75 percent of their games, going 35-10-5 in five seasons. Devaney later established Nebraska as a powerhouse, winning two National Championships with the Cornhuskers in 1971 and 1972.
Before Devaney arrived in Laramie, Phil Dickens spent four successful seasons at the helm of the program. From 1953 to 1956, Wyoming won 72 percent of their games, compiling a 29-11-1 record during Dickens’ tenure.
Paul Roach put Wyoming football back on the map in the late ’80s. In his four seasons, the Pokes won 70 percent of their games, going 35-15 and claiming two WAC titles. Twice, Roach was a finalist for the National Coach of the Year award. In 1991, Roach stepped down to focus on his duties as Athletic Director. He left the program in good hands, promoting assistant Joe Tiller to head coach.
Tiller picked up where Roach left off, winning 39 games in six seasons from 1991 to 1996. Widely credited among the innovators of the spread offense, Tiller’s teams ranked among the highest scoring in the nation. He later left for Purdue, where he coached future New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
If Roach put Wyoming back on the football map, Bowden Wyatt put us there in the first place. When Wyatt took over in 1947, the Cowboys hadn’t had a winning season in three decades. By 1950, Wyoming was one of the best teams in the country. On New Year’s Day, they capped a perfect 10-0 season with a victory in the Gator Bowl. The Pokes won 69 percent of their games during Wyatt’s six years. In 1953, he took a job at Arkansas and later coached at Tennesee. He was twice inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame; as a player in 1972 and a coach in 1997.
Perhaps no Pokes coach took the program higher than Lloyd Eaton. He still holds the school record for wins with 57. Sadly, his legacy will forever be tied to the Black 14 scandal in 1969, when he dismissed 14 African-American players from the program for planning to participate in a civil rights protest. Just two years earlier, Eaton’s team was ranked 6th in the country, earning a berth in the Sugar Bowl.
Pat Dye only spent one season in Laramie, compiling a 6-5 record in 1980, before accepting a job at Auburn. During his 11 seasons at Auburn, Dye led the Tigers to four SEC titles and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
Like Dye, Dennis Erickson had a short stint in Wyoming. After finishing 6-6 in 1986, Erickson left for Washington State. He later won two National Championships at Miami and went on to coach for the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFL.
Other notable Wyoming coaches include Dana Dimel, who went 22-13 from 1997 to 1999, and Fritz Shurmur, who spent 33 years as a defensive coordinator in the NFL after coaching the Pokes from 1971 to 1974.