UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 4
LARAMIE -- During this summer series we are going to countdown the Top 50 football players in Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.
The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.
This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining me is Robert Gagliardi, Jared Newland, Ryan Thorburn and Kevin McKinney. We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is more fair.
Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter page @7220sports.
Tailback/ placekicker, 1948-50, Delphos, Ohio
Here's why: In 2000, Eddie "Boom Boom" Talboom became the first Wyoming football player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
That's big stuff.
Only former Cowboy Jay Novacek (2008) joins Talboom in the player wing of the Atlanta institution.
How did he get there? Well, it's simple really.
The Notre Dame transfer still to this day is No. 6 all time in scoring average in NCAA history. When he left Laramie in 1950, he was atop that list with 10.8 per outing. He also broke 13 school records, including scoring 303 career points. He scored 34 rushing touchdowns. That's still second in UW history behind only Brian Hill, who found the end zone 35 times between 2014-16.
Talboom scored 29 in a single game by himself. That was a 103-0 rout of Northern Colorado back in 1949.
Yes, you read that right.
Talboom was the perfect fit in Bowden Wyatt's single-wing attack. After serving in World War II, Talboom was Laramie bound. Not only was the Ohio native a smooth runner, he even became the program's first 1,000-yard passer. He threw 21 touchdowns, returned 10 kicks and intercepted two passes.
Talboom was Wyoming's first ever All-American. He earned that distinction back in 1950, just days before earning Most Valuable Player of the 1951 Gator Bowl.
That 20-7 victory over Washington & Lee was the first bowl appearance and win in Cowboys' history.
Wyoming claimed its first Skyline championship in '49 thanks to the breakout performance of Talboom. The Cowboys went 9-1, their lone loss coming at Baylor in the second to last game of the regular season.
The following year was perfection.
Talboom's Pokes outscored opponents by a whopping margin of 363-59. That defense recorded seven shutouts and finished the season with the third best defense in the country. The Cowboys, one of only three unbeaten teams, entered the national polls for the first time in program history. They finished No. 12 in the country.
Talboom was inducted into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.
Tucker's take: Anyone else love watching those grainy old videos from Wyoming's football history?
If you're like me, you probably wonder: "Could that guy do that in today's game?"
Talboom might be one of those guys. For one, he was basically position-less. He could sling it, run it, kick it and even make a tackle. At 155 pounds, he was a powerful back and big target for quarterbacks. His toughness -- and age (he was 29 in 1950) -- no doubt aided in putting together a College Football Hall of Fame career.
Also, if you're like me, you would've thoroughly enjoyed being in Greeley, Colorado on Nov. 5, 1949. Not only did Wyoming put a bow on its fifth straight shutout, it's offense, led by Talboom's 29 points, put 103 on the board in the most lopsided victory in school history.
The Associated Press called it "A scoring orgy that was stopped only by the final gun.”
After researching this game, it was not a case of the Cowboys playing a totally inferior opponent. UW and the then-Colorado State College (Teacher's College), actually were in the same conference up until a decade prior. The Pokes scored 14 points in the first quarter and added four more touchdowns before the half.
There were kick returns, long bombs and easy walk-in scores.
It was 77-0 after three quarters. Wyoming added 26 more points in the fourth. Ten different Cowboys scored in this one. None more than Talboom.
What a time to be alive.
McKinney's take: We all love surmising whether a great athlete from the past could be as accomplished today. Could Babe Ruth hit as many home runs against today’s pitching as he did back in the day? Could Kenny Sailors have the same impact now as he did in the 1940’s? Could Eddie Talboom be as incredible in 2021 as he was 71 years ago?
I, for one, believe he could.
Talboom actually transferred to Wyoming from Notre Dame. Why? Because he had a good feeling that his skill set would flourish in Bowden Wyatt’s single-wing offense. He was a tailback and kicker by trade and in his mind what he did was perfect for what Wyoming was doing.
He wasn’t wrong.
He put together an amazing list of credentials during his Cowboy career. He was the catalyst for a Wyoming program that went 9-1 in 1949 and 10-0 in 1950, winning the Gator Bowl of that season. By the way, he was the Most Valuable Player of that Bowl game, a Cowboy victory over Washington & Lee.
He was Wyoming’s first-ever football All-America. He set 13 Cowboy scoring records on his way to producing 303 career points. For a number of years that total cemented his place as the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader. To this day he is among the highest scorers in NCAA football history.
He also was the first-ever Wyoming football player to throw for 1,000 yards in a season. What might have he done now? Sadly we can only guess, but my guess is that he would have been just as dominating today as he was then, placed in the same circumstances as current student-athletes.
“Boom Boom” was inducted into the University of Wyoming Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994, and will be forever listed as one of UW’s most productive student-athletes of all time.
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (6), Robert Gagliardi (13), Jared Newland (3), Ryan Thorburn (1), Kevin McKinney (8)
Previous selections: No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, No. 23, No. 22, No. 21, No. 20, No. 19, No. 18, No. 17, No. 16, No. 15, No. 14, No. 13, No. 12, No. 11, No. 10, No. 9, No. 8, No. 7, No. 6, No. 5
Cody Tucker: Brand Manager and creator of 7220sports.com. Tucker has covered the Cowboys since June of 2019, but was a season-ticket holder for nearly three decades. Tucker has also covered Michigan State University Athletics for the Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins during his 10-year journalism career
Robert Gagliardi: Former sports editor and University of Wyoming beat reporter for WyoSports. Gagliardi covered the Cowboys from more than a quarter century. He also covered the team at the Branding Iron, the UW student newspaper. Gagliardi also co-authored the book: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming
Jared Newland: Currently the local sales manager for Townsquare Media SE Wyoming, Newland worked with and around Wyoming athletics for 20 years, starting as a student athletic trainer in 1990. Newland has also served in the Sports Information Office, the Cowboy Joe Club, Wyoming Sports Properties and was a UW Athletics Hall of Fame Committee Member from 2002-14.
Ryan Thorburn: Currently covering the Oregon Ducks for The Register-Guard, Thorburn also covered the Cowboys in the early and mid-90's for the Branding Iron and Casper Star Tribune. He has also written four books about Wyoming Athletics: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming, Cowboy Up: Kenny Sailors, The Jump Shot and Wyoming’s Championship Basketball History, Lost Cowboys: The Story of Bud Daniel and Wyoming Baseball and Black 14: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Wyoming Football
Kevin McKinney: Currently the senior associate athletics director for external affairs at the University of Wyoming, McKinney also serves as the radio color commentator for Wyoming football and men's basketball. McKinney has been involved with UW Athletics in some capacity since 1972. He was also inducted into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015.