Monday, December 22, 2008

Greener named head strength coach

Trent Greener

The University of Wyoming athletics department announced on Monday that Trent Greener has been hired as the director of strength and conditioning and head football strength coach at Wyoming.

Greener was a football letterman for the Cowboys in 1987 and 1988. He comes to Wyoming after serving in a similar position at the University of Washington since 2005.

In addition to overseeing the entire strength and conditioning program at the University of Washington, as the Head Coach for Sports Performance, Greener also worked directly with the Husky football team for the past four seasons (2005-08).

Prior to that, Greener was the head strength and conditioning coordinator at Oregon State University from 1999-2004, working with the sports of football and volleyball during his time in Corvallis, Ore.

“I am extremely excited to be back at my alma mater and to be a part of the Wyoming family,” said Greener. “Although I have been away from UW for the last decade, I have followed the Pokes every weekend. After speaking with Coach (Dave) Christensen and learning about the direction he wants to take his program, it made me want to be a part of his plan to build something really special in Laramie.

“Wyoming has had great success throughout its history, and along the way has earned a national reputation for being a tough and physical football team. Coach Christensen’s program will continue that tradition. I can’t wait to begin physically preparing our student-athletes as soon as they get back on campus in January.”

A backup defensive tackle for the Cowboys, Greener was part of two Western Athletic Conference Championship teams his junior and senior seasons of 1987 and ‘88. Those two teams went undefeated in league play, winning 16 consecutive WAC games, and appeared in the 1987 and ‘88 Holiday Bowls.

Greener began his career in strength and conditioning as a student assistant at Wyoming in the 1989-90 academic year, while completing his undergraduate degree in exercise and sport science at UW. He then served as a graduate assistant strength coach at Purdue from 1990-92. He moved into a full-time position as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Northern Illinois in 1992, before returning to Wyoming. From 1992-99, Greener was an assistant strength coach at UW, working primarily with the sports of men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s golf and assisting with football.

He was offered the head position at Oregon State in 1999, and after six years there he moved to Washington as head of its strength and conditioning program. He has been a head strength coach at the NCAA Division I level for the past 10 seasons. A native of New Albany, Ind., Greener completed his bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science at Wyoming in 1990, and earned his master’s degree in physical education, also from UW, in 2002.

He is both a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a USA Weightlifting (USAW) certified club coach. Greener has also been a presenter at numerous seminars and coaching clinics, as well as having had several articles published on a variety of training techniques.

He has coached teams that appeared in six bowl games during his coaching career, and has trained over 20 individuals who went on to sign with NFL teams.

Greener is married to the former Tina Wheeler, who lettered for the Wyoming Cowgirl basketball program from 1986-89.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cowboys sign JUCO QB

Robert Benjamin

by Wyoming

To no one’s surprise, new Wyoming head football coach Dave Christensen went on the offensive during the second day that midyear junior college players could sign national letters of intent.

Christensen, known for outstanding offenses as offensive coordinator at Missouri, announced the signing of quarterback Robert Benjamin from Phoenix College in Phoenix, Ariz. Benjamin will join the Wyoming football program for the 2009 spring semester that begins in January. He will be a junior when the 2009 season begins.

Benjamin was the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region I Offensive Player of the Year this past season. In addition to being the Region I Offensive Player of the Year, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Benjamin was an Honorable Mention NJCAA All-American. He was one of only eight junior college quarterbacks nationally to earn All-America honors from the NJCAA this season.

“Robert was an academic predictor coming out of high school and was eligible to go the Division I route right out of high school, but he chose to go to junior college,” said Christensen in a release. “He has developed a lot as a player the last couple of seasons. He had an outstanding sophomore season, and led Phoenix to their first bowl game in over 20 years.

“Robert is a tremendous athlete, and a great person. He is a good student, and he brings a variety of skills to the quarterback position -- skills that you look for when you’re running a spread offense like we run. He ran the spread offense at Phoenix College, and was very athletic in doing it. He is a good thrower, and has good throwing mechanics.”

Benjamin completed 192 of 355 passes (54.1 percent) for 2,391 yards, 25 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He also ran for 468 yards for 2,859 yards of total offense.
He led Phoenix College to a No. 12 ranking in the final 2008 NJCAA National Poll. Phoenix posted a 7-4 record and a 6-2 mark in the Western States Football League, placing it second behind Snow College. Snow College ended the season ranked No. 2 in the nation. Phoenix earned a berth in the Valley of the Sun Bowl to conclude the season, marking the first bowl appearance for the Bears since 1986.

Phoenix College entered the Valley of the Sun Bowl ranked No. 8 in the nation. In that game, Benjamin completed 21 of 40 passes (52.5 percent) for 237 yards and threw three TD passes. He also carried the ball five times for 21 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown scamper, as he accounted for 258 yards of total offense in a 39-38 loss to then No. 4 ranked Harper Community College of Illinois.

Heading into its bowl game, Phoenix College was ranked No. 11 in the nation in total offense (381.1 yards per game), was also No. 11 in passing offense (224.9 ypg) and ranked No. 22 in rushing offense (156.2 ypg). Individually, Benjamin was ranked No. 6 in the nation in total offense (257.3 ypg), and was No. 7 in passing (212.6 ypg).

He played for head coach Land Jacobsen at Phoenix College. The sophomore prepped at South Mountain High School in Phoenix. Coming out of junior college, Benjamin was also recruited by Utah and Idaho.

This is the only midyear junior college player that Wyoming will sign during the midyear JC signing period that runs from Dec. 17, 2008, to Jan. 15, 2009

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Arroyo named offensive coordinator

University of Wyoming head football coach Dave Christensen announced on Wednesday that Marcus Arroyo has been hired as the Cowboys’ new offensive coordinator.

Arroyo was most recently the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, San Jose State University. He played quarterback for the Spartans from 1998-2002.

“Marcus Arroyo is one of the brightest, up-and-coming, spread offensive coordinators in the country,” said Christensen. “Marcus came out to Missouri to clinic with us. I was very, very impressed with him at that time, and he has been on my list of potential offensive coordinators since that point.

“He has coordinated the same offense at San Jose as we run. He has done an excellent job as the quarterbacks’ coach there, and has a special understanding for the position, having played the position in college where he had a great career at San Jose State. I’m excited about what he brings to our staff, and I believe he will do a tremendous job of coordinating our offense and coaching our quarterbacks at Wyoming.”

“My decision to come to Wyoming started with Coach Christensen,” said Arroyo. “I love his enthusiasm, his energy and his discipline. I’m extremely excited to be a part of his staff and a part of building something special here at Wyoming.

“It was hard to leave my alma mater. Coach (Dick) Tomey gave me a great opportunity to coach at San Jose State, and is a special man. I was thrilled to be part of an exciting time there, but I see Wyoming as an amazing situation and an amazing program with a great tradition.

“I look forward to help building on that tradition and past success. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

Arroyo began his college coaching career in 2003 following an outstanding playing career at San Jose State. He has been the quarterbacks coach at his alma mater the past three seasons, and has been the co-offensive coordinator and play-caller for the Spartans the past two seasons under Tomey. In two of those three seasons, 2006 and 2008, the Spartans earned bowl eligible status. In 2006, San Jose State posted a record of 9-4, and earned a berth in the inaugural New Mexico Bowl where they defeated New Mexico by a score of 20-12. This past year, SJSU achieved bowl eligibility status with a 6-6 mark but weren’t invited to a bowl game.

From 2006 to 2007, he tutored the Spartans’ all-time leading passer, Adam Tafralis. Tafralis holds school records for career passing yards (7,548) and career total offense (8,111). He also ranks third in school history in passing efficiency, with a career rating of 131.5. Tafralis set a San Jose State single-season record for completion percentage in 2006, completing 65.6 percent of his passes. He also completed 62.8 percent of his passes in 2007, becoming the first quarterback in school history to complete 60 percent or more of his pass attempts in back-to-back seasons.

Arroyo, himself, was the starting quarterback for the Spartans in 1998 and from 2000-02. He ranks No. 9 in career passing yards (4,603), No. 9 in career total offense (4,525) and No. 10 in career passing efficiency (115.6 rating) at San Jose State. During his playing career, he led San Jose State to a 27-24 win over then No. 9 ranked and previously unbeaten TCU in 2000. That same season, he guided the Spartans to a 40-27 road win over Stanford. Perhaps his best career game came against Nevada in 2001, when he threw for 476 yards and five touchdowns, while posting a passing rating of 298.0 in a 64-45 home victory over the Wolfpack.

Before joining the Spartan staff as a full-time coach in 2006, Arroyo served as a graduate assistant at SJSU in 2005. In 2004, he was the offensive coordinator at Prairie View A&M, an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team in Prairie View, Texas. He served as an undergraduate assistant coach at his alma mater in 2003, while completing his degree in kinesiology.

Arroyo is 28 years old, born Jan. 23, 1980. He played his high school football at Colfax High School in Colfax, Calif.

Other members of Christensen’s first coaching staff at Wyoming that were previously announced include: Marty English, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers; Mike Fanoga, Outside Linebackers; Alex Grinch, Secondary; Jim Harding, Tight Ends; Jerry Montgomery, Defensive Line: and Jason Ray, Running Backs. Coaching positions yet to be announced are: wide receivers coach and offensive line coach.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christensen adds Montgomery to staff

University of Wyoming head football coach Dave Christensen announced on Tuesday that Jerry Montgomery has been hired as the Cowboys’ new defensive line coach.

Montgomery comes to Wyoming from the University of Northern Iowa where he helped guide the Panthers to the semifinals of this year’s NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs.

He coached the UNI defensive line the past three seasons. In 2008, the Panthers posted a 12-3 record before losing by one point, 20-21, in the FCS national semifinals to Richmond. Northern Iowa shared the 2008 Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) title with a 7-1 league mark, and was ranked No. 4 in both of the most recent FCS national football polls.

“Jerry Montgomery is unbelievable in building relationships with his players,” said Christensen. “Jerry is an intense coach, and he gets his players to play extremely hard. He has done a great job recruiting, and is an excellent evaluator of talent. Jerry, himself, was an outstanding player at the University of Iowa. He came very highly recommended by the Iowa coaching staff, whom he played for, and by everyone else he has worked with. I’m really, really excited to have him as part of my staff at Wyoming.”

“This is a great opportunity for me and my family to be able to come to an outstanding school like the University of Wyoming,” said Montgomery. “I’m excited to come to Wyoming, because I know from looking at the history of this school that we can win here. From what I’ve seen already, we have kids in place here who are quality players. We are now working at bringing in additional kids who can help us get better. The facilities are great, and that will only help our recruiting. I can’t wait to get started.”

Montgomery had three of his defensive linemen earn All-MVFC honors in 2008, including junior defensive end James Ruffin, who was voted the conference Defensive Player of the Year. Joining Ruffin on the MVFC First Team was senior defensive tackle Everette Pedescleaux. Senior defensive end Jeremy Robertson earned Second Team All-Conference honors.

The 2008 UNI defense ranked No. 10 among all FCS teams in the nation in scoring defense, giving up only 17.7 points per game. Northern Iowa was No. 20 in the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 107.1 yards per game. The Panthers also ranked No. 23 in total defense (310.1 ypg) and No. 30 in pass defense efficiency (114.6 rating).

In 2007, UNI was 12-1, entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA FCS Playoffs before losing to Delaware, 27-39. Northern Iowa concluded the 2007 season ranked No. 4 in the final Sports Network poll and No. 5 in the final poll. They ranked No. 7 in the nation in scoring defense (16.9 points per game), No. 11 in total defense (303.9 yards per game), No. 6 in rushing defense (91.0 ypg) and No. 29 in pass efficiency defense (114.8 rating). He had three defensive linemen earn All-Gateway Conference honors. Ruffin was a First Team selection. Mark Huygens was a Second Team honoree, and Jordan Lacy received Honorable Mention honors.

As a graduate assistant coach in 2006 at UNI, Montgomery coached the defensive line led by Second Team All-Conference selections Huygens and Lacy.

Prior to coaching at Northern Iowa, he was the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at North Iowa Area Community College for the 2005 season. He also coached at Iowa City West High School for the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Montgomery was a three-year starter as a defensive tackle at the University of Iowa from 1998-2001. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies in 2002.

Following his college playing career, the Mesquite, Nev., native went to camp with the New Orleans Saints of the NFL in 2002. He later played in the Arena Football League with the Chicago Rush, Colorado Crush and Las Vegas Gladiators from 2003-2005.

He played his high school football at Virgin Valley High School in Mesquite, Nev., where he was the Nevada State Player of the Year in 1997.

Montgomery is 29 years old -- born April 19, 1979. He and his wife Natalie have two sons, Jayden and Tevyn.

Other members of Christensen’s first coaching staff at Wyoming that were announced by the head coach at a Dec. 8 press conference are: Marty English, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers; Mike Fanoga, Outside Linebackers; Alex Grinch, Secondary; Jim Harding, Tight Ends; and Jason Ray, Running Backs. Coaching positions yet to be announced are: offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and offensive line coach.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Novacek inducted into College Hall of Fame

Courtesy photo
Former Wyoming great Jay Novacek speaks alongside former Dallas teammate Troy Aikman Tuesday night as he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
By Steve Richardson
NFF Correspondent

Jay Novacek took an unlikely route to the College Football Hall of Fame. Born in Martin, S.D., and reared in rural central Nebraska (Gothenburg), Novacek played college football and participated in track and field at the University of Wyoming, far from the bright lights of college football citadels such as Columbus, Austin or Los Angeles.

In the early 1980s, getting to Laramie to see Novacek wasn't always easy for scouts. Flight connections were difficult and airport rental cars often could not be found on football weekends. But scouts still came to see the promising Novacek in action.

"He looked more like a big, tall wide receiver," said Gil Brandt, formerly vice president of Player Personnel for the Dallas Cowboys. "He was very adept at getting open on the goal line and catching passes on the goal line."

Novacek played split end early in his Wyoming career for Coach Al Kincaid's wishbone offense and then moved to tight end. Over three seasons he had 83 receptions for 1,536 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"He was rather tall and lanky when he was here," said Kevin McKinney, now a senior associate athletic director at Wyoming and radio color commentator. "He started putting on weight when he was in Dallas (6-4 232 pounds). I have been around here for 40 years and I would probably have to say, if he is not the best athlete, he is close to the best athlete we have ever had."

"I always had respect for him all through college," said Rany Welniak, a Wyoming quarterback during that era. "We all knew he was a special individual as a person and athletically. He was an exceptional athlete. It was amazing I would throw to him in practice and anything around him, he would go up and get. He was just a very smooth, athletic guy. He was the type who was down to earth, really kind of a farm kid from a smaller town in Nebraska."

Somewhat because of his obscurity at Wyoming and lack of flashy numbers, Novacek was selected in the sixth round of the 1985 NFL Draft by the then St. Louis Cardinals. He played five seasons with the Cardinals before becoming a Dallas Cowboy in 1990 as Plan B Free Agent. In Dallas, he became a star and one of the cogs in the Cowboys' three Super Bowl championships in 1992, '93 and '95 with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Novacek played in five Pro Bowls from 1991-95.

"This isn't something that you expect from a skinny tight end on a Wyoming team that ran the wishbone offense, but it is a great honor and very meaningful," Novacek said of going into the College Football Hall of Fame. "I am proud to be going in with my teammate and friend, Troy Aikman."

In 1997, he returned to his roots to run the Upper 84 Ranch in Brady, Nebraska, guiding hunting trips on his 3,500-acre spread. He also operates football camps for kids across the country.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sween: 'This guy fits my preference for offense'

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming senior quarterback Karsten Sween is interviewd by channel 5 sports director Macradee Aegerter on Monday.

By Richard Anderson

The 2008 season was supposed to be Karsten Sween’s breakout year at quarterback. Then he didn’t get the job. When he got the job, he got hurt.

It wasn’t the year he had expected.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the year anyone expected, as the Cowboys went into the season talking bowl game, but finished 4-8.

Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn and his staff (sans Marty English) lost their jobs and Sween, like many Cowboys on the offensive end, were left in an indeterminate state, wondering what was going to happen.

Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen is now the Cowboys’ head coach and the more Sween thinks about it, the more he gets excited.

“I love the decision that they have made,” Sween said. “This guy fits my preference for offense, absolutely. In high school, that’s what I ran. My strengths are not running the ball or running the read-option. My strengths are my arm and getting the ball to your playmakers, letting them be in the best position offensively. This offense lets you do that. It is five wide and you can pick the defense apart.”

When Christensen was named the new head coach, bringing in his spread offense, Sween admitted a little spark was lit underneath him for his senior season.

“I’m going to work as hard as I can in the off-season,” he said. “The best thing I can do is just learn this offense whenever I get a chance to get his playbook. When you have five receivers, you have limited protection, you only have five offensive linemen and you have no running back for protection. You have to know where you’re hot routes are, you have to know when to attack the defense. It takes experience and a lot of studying and that is what I am going to do.”

Sween said he had already mentioned to someone that he was almost approaching his final season like he was a freshman. He said that Christensen is established and has enough accomplishments to where he didn’t need to question anything.

“He tells me what to do and I am going to do it 110 percent,” Sween said. “We’ll see where that takes me. I don’t really have any interjections of what I think should go down. Obviously, that senior leadership goes into effect where you take the initiative when people maybe lack in their effort. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do.”

Christensen met with the Cowboys Monday morning and talked to them about what his expectation level is for this football team and for the program.

“I just talked about how we are going to operate here from a discipline standpoint, what I expect them to do,” Christensen said. “We talked to them about what I expect them to do over the break, and when they come back what they can expect. We talked about the importance of recruiting. The biggest thing is we are going to be very, very structured, we’re going to be very disciplined, and the phrase they are probably going to be sick of hearing is an attention to detail in everything we do."

For the most part, Sween said the Cowboys are excited about the selection. If not, then he said some players will likely have to hit the road.

“I think Coach Christensen has shown us and told us what needs to happen,” Sween said. “I think everyone is buying into that. It will be a step-by-step process.”

Senior linebacker Westin Johnson said that Christensen is a winner and they’re excited that he is their coach.

“That’s what I signed up to do. I signed up to win, so I couldn’t ask anything more. I’m excited about what’s going to happen,” Johnson said.

Sween watched the Big 12 title game between Missouri and Oklahoma from a little different perspective than the normal college football fan.

“I looked at the game and thought, ‘What was the blitz, what was the adjustments, whether it was in the play or maybe a hot route or what we call a side adjustment to a blitz.’ It was fun to watch.”

The Big 12 tile game also got Sween to think about Wyoming’s personnel and what they could do in the new system.

“Last year, we only had a couple of receivers who were really a pro style, but I think we have a great freshman class that no one has seen yet, and a couple of guys who are very talented, very tall,” he said. “I think if they recruit well -- like he said, we need seven or eight receivers -- if we fill that spot well enough, hopefully we’ll get the job done next season.”

English thankful to stay at Wyoming

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming defensive coordinator Marty English is being interviewed by Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle sports editor Robert Gagliardi, left, and Laramie Boomerang sports editor Bob Hammond on Monday.

By Richard Anderson

Marty English was in coaching limbo when former Wyoming head football coach Joe Glenn was fired after six years at the helm.

He was out of a job for about a week and a half.

English, the linebackers coach under Glenn at UW, will stay with new head coach Dave Christensen as the Wyoming defensive coordinator.

English said that it has been a strange last couple of weeks. He said he went from being as low as you can be in this profession and heartbroken, to getting a chance to visit with Christensen when he came in to take a look at the head coaching position.

Why is English still around? Christensen had researched the Wyoming program and staff and English said that with his ties recruiting up and down the Front Range, the new Wyoming coach wanted to keep some of the continuity.

“The promotion to the defensive coordinator is something that I have had before (at Northern Colorado) and had been very successful, and is something that I had been looking forward to getting a chance to do again,” English said. “I’m just grateful to him that he was going to give me that chance."

This was the first time in his 22 years of coaching that English had been let go.

“You are always tested for some reason or another by a higher power,” he said. “I would say that with the support of my family, there was quite a bit of peace, with the feeling that we could find a job or do something. My wife is working and my family is established here, so we were willing to do whatever we need to do. Our goal was to keep our family in tact. I have always made my family first in the decisions I have ever made.”

It has also been a bittersweet for English. Although he is being retained at Wyoming, his coaching colleagues under Glenn are still looking for employment.

“My heart goes out to all of them. That part is hard,” he said. “They are hanging in there. They are looking for jobs. Honestly, Coach Christensen said it best one time: ‘It doesn’t mean you are a bad coach when you get fired, the circumstances weren’t right for you right then.’ They are going to find jobs and they are going to do well. They have all been super supportive of me. I can’t say how much I appreciate them at this point.

“I owe Coach Glenn and all of those guys I have been with. We had been together for quite a long time. It is just another phase in my life right now and I look forward to another chapter with Coach Christensen and the other coaches on this staff.”

The new chapter will be similar to the old chapter, as English and Christensen will stick with the 3-4 defensive alignment that was implemented a few years ago by then defensive coordinator Mike Breske.

“Marty has a scheme and we have personnel in place,” Christensen said. “We sat down and we visited about it a little bit, and right now we feel with that scheme and personnel-wise, that fits us best. I also know that there are a lot of things we can do from a blitz standpoint that creates issues for offenses.”

Senior linebacker Westin Johnson said that he is not only happy that English is back, but he is pleased that they will stick with the 3-4.

“I’m fortunate to have him as my defensive coordinator now, he’s a great coach and we’re lucky to have him here,” Johnson said. “Every year our goal is to be a top defense in the nation, at least a Top 25 defense, if not a Top 10 team. Everybody can expect the same thing from us. We’re going to have the same scheme and it is going to play at our favor. We have the players and the athletes to run a 3-4, it suits us well.”

English said that every coach who runs a program will put their own twist or initials on it, and he plans on doing the same.

“We have been pretty good here defensively and there has been a good foundation laid,” English said. “We’re not going to have to change a lot, but there are probably a couple of things in my experiences of coordinating before that I would like to do. It will not be anything major, but I feel it is going to be enough as to where it is going to give us a chance in some of the games where maybe we got hurt by some things.”

Other coaching news
Along with English, Christensen mentioned four other coaches who he has hired as assistants. A few others will be announced as soon as their current teams are either finished with a playoff game or a bowl game.

The other announced assistants include tight ends coach Jim Harding (high school), secondary coach Alex Grinch (New Hampshire), outside linebackers coach Mike Fanoga (New Mexico State) and running backs coach Jason Ray (Missouri).

Christensen:The foundation is here

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming head football coach Dave Christensen talks to Wyoming media and fans Monday during his first news conference in Laramie.

By Richard Anderson

New Wyoming head football coach Dave Christensen has hit the ground running in Laramie.

Christensen, who was selected head coach just a week ago, has been juggling his duties with the Cowboys, as well as finishing up as offensive coordinator with Missouri, as the Tigers prepare for the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 against Northwestern.

As was the case when he met the media for the first time on a teleconference last week, Christensen was well prepared for his debut Monday in Laramie, with a news conference to a packed house in the War Room at the Rochelle Athletic Center.

Christensen opened by saying he takes great pride in being named the 31st football coach at the University of Wyoming.

“I researched this program quite a bit before taking this job. I truly believe it is a place where I can lay a foundation to have a very successful football team,” Christensen said.

Despite this being his first head coaching job, Wyoming president Tom Buchanan said it was Christensen’s preparation that impressed him.

“From the very beginning of our conversations, it was apparent to me that Dave knew a lot about the University of Wyoming and Cowboy football, and he had given a lot of thought about the direction that he would take the UW program if given the opportunity,” Buchanan said. “I was very impressed with his commitment with recruiting the right kind of athletes for Wyoming, building depth and talent in the program and putting together and inspiring a strong coaching staff.”

Christensen said he took the Wyoming job because he believes it has the ingredients to win and he credits Buchanan, UW athletics director Tom Burman, along with the Wyoming state legislature and Gov. Dave Freudenthal for making that possible.

“After having that interview, I knew the support was there,” Christensen said. “We can get it done here and win at a high level. I told the kids today -- we met this morning -- we expect to compete for a Mountain West championship, we expect to go to bowl games and we expect to win. We’re not hoping, we expect to do those things. Wyoming has built great facilities over the past years and now we have something to recruit to.”

Christensen said a friend and colleague compared the support at Wyoming to that of the support in Nebraska. This was even before he decided to take the job.

“It’s the only show in the state and they are dying to have a competitive team and a winner,” Christensen said. “Obviously, the fan support is important.”

Although the Cowboys have struggled in Mountain West Conference play in the six years under Joe Glenn (15-31), Christensen said he compares the situation he and Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel inherited when they began at Missouri.

Actually, he said there is no real comparison.

“When we took over the program in Missouri, it was in shambles,” Christensen said. “We were able to turn it around in eight years … we finished fourth in the country last year and are a Top 20 team this year. This program is in much better shape than we were in there.”

Christensen said he met with his players Monday morning and laid it on the line with them about what he expects from them. He said he told the Cowboys that the program was going to be based on three values -- academic integrity, social responsibility and competitive excellence.

“When a kid comes to the University of Wyoming, he is going to get an education and we will hold him accountable to get that done,” he said. “Everyone knows wrong from right and we will hold them accountable to make the right choices both on and off the field, whether they are in town or out of town. We expect to win, we expect to go to bowl games and that’s what we are going to do.”

Christensen said the Cowboys are blue-collar, tough-minded men, just like himself.

“They are excited about it, they know that when they come back, what it is going to take to get to that next level,” he said. “They are willing to make that sacrifice and work hard for us. Those are the kind of kids you want to work for you. We don’t have a lot of academic issues, we have good kids in the classroom and good kids in the community and we’re going to continue to strive for them to excel in all of those areas.”

Near the end of the news conference on Monday, during a question and answer session with the media and Wyoming fans, Christensen was asked how many wins he would have at the end of his first year.

There was no hesitation in his answer.

“I don’t expect to lose any,” he said. “My plan is to win the first one, and then I’ll worry about the next one.”

Dave Christensen news conference slide show

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dobbs, Moore earn All-MWC honors

Devin Moore Ward Dobbs

Wyoming senior team captains Ward Dobbs and Devin Moore earned first team All-Mountain West Conference honors on Wednesday in balloting by the conference’s nine head coaches and media representatives from each school.

The two seniors were the only first team selections for the Cowboys. Junior defensive tackle John Fletcher earned second team honors for the second consecutive year.

Four other Cowboys were named honorable mention All-MWC honorees. Senior offensive linemen Tim Bond and Kyle Howard each and junior defensive end Mitch Unrein and sophomore free safety Chris ProsinskI were named to the honorable mention team.

Dobbs selection to the first team was the third consecutive season he received recognition on the All-Mountain West team. He was a second team selection as a sophomore in 2006, and was honorable mention as a junior in 2007. Dobbs led Wyoming in tackles in 2008 with 101 total tackles. He averaged 8.4 tackles per game to rank No. 50 in the nation. He also tied for the team lead in interceptions with three. He returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns -- one against Tennessee and one versus Colorado State. The Fairbanks, Alaska native concluded his career with 343 career tackles to rank No. 5 in school history.

Moore led the Mountain West Conference in rushing with 1,301 yards. He also was the league leader in all-purpose yardage with 2,008 all-purpose yards in 2008. For the Indianapolis, Ind., native it was the first All-Conference recognition of his career. He ranked No. 17 in the NCAA this season in average rushing yards per game (108.4), and he ranked No. 8 in all-purpose yardage, averaging 167.3 yards per game. Moore ended his Wyoming career as the Cowboys’ all-time leading rusher with 2,963 career rushing yards, breaking the previous record of Ryan Christopherson (2,906 rushing yards from 1991-94). His 2,008 all-purpose yards set a new Wyoming single-season record, breaking the old mark of 1,837 all-purpose yards by former Wyoming All-America wide receiver Marcus Harris in 1996.

Fletcher achieved second team honors for the second straight year. He had 4.5 sacks on the season, 6.5 tackles for losses and 54 total tackles. Fletcher tied for No. 8 in the MWC in sacks this season. He moved into 10th place on the Wyoming career sack list in 2008. The junior from Erie, Colo., will enter his senior season in 2009 with 17.0 total sacks.

For Howard and Unrein, it marked the second consecutive season they received honorable mention honors. Bond and Prosinski earned the honor for the first time in their Wyoming careers.
All-Mountain West Football First-Team

QB Brian Johnson Sr. Utah
WR Austin Collie Jr. BYU
WR Ryan Wolfe* Jr. UNLV
RB Gartrell Johnson III Sr. Colorado State
RB Devin Moore Sr. Wyoming
TE Dennis Pitta*# Jr. BYU
OL Ray Feinga* Sr. BYU
OL Dallas Reynolds* Sr. BYU
OL Blake Schlueter Sr. TCU
OL Zane Beadles Jr. Utah
OL Robert Conley Sr. Utah
PK Louie Sakoda Sr. Utah
PR/KR Jeremy Kerley So. TCU
DL Jake Paulson Sr. Air Force
DL Jan Jorgensen* Jr. BYU
DL Jerry Hughes# Jr. TCU
DL Paul Kruger So. Utah
LB Robert Henson Sr. TCU
LB Jason Phillips* Sr. TCU
LB Ward Dobbs Sr. Wyoming
DB Glover Quin Sr. New Mexico
DB Brice McCain Sr. Utah
DB Stephen Hodge Sr. TCU
DB Sean Smith Jr. Utah
P Louie Sakoda* Sr. Utah
*--Two-Time First-Team Selection
#--Unanimous Selection
All-Mountain West Football Second-Team

QB Max Hall Jr. BYU
WR Rashaun Greer Jr. Colorado State
WR Freddie Brown Sr. Utah
RB Harvey Unga So. BYU
RB Rodney Ferguson Sr. New Mexico
TE Kory Sperry Sr. Colorado State
OL Nick Charles Jr. Air Force
OL Travis Bright Sr. BYU
OL Shelley Smith Jr. Colorado State
OL Erik Cook Jr. New Mexico
OL Marshall Newhouse Jr. TCU
PK Ryan Harrison Sr. Air Force
PR/KR Ian Clark Jr. New Mexico
DL Cody Moore Sr. TCU
DL Matt Panfil Sr. TCU
DL Koa Misi Jr. Utah
DL John Fletcher Jr. Wyoming
LB David Nixon Sr. BYU
LB Jason Beauchamp Jr. UNLV
LB Stevenson Sylvester Jr. Utah
DB Chris Thomas Jr. Air Force
DB DeAndre Wright Sr. New Mexico
DB Steven Coleman Sr. TCU
DB Rafael Priest Jr. TCU
P Anthony Hartz Jr. Colorado State
Honorable Mention
Air Force: Hunter Altman; Sr., LB, Chris Campbell, Jr., OL; Ken Lamendola, So., LB; Andrew Pipes, Sr., C; Reggie Rembert; So.; KR.
BYU: C.J. Santiago, Sr., P; David Tafuna, Sr., DB.
Colorado State: Ricky Brewer, So., LB; Mychal Sisson, Fr., LB; Jason Smith, Sr., PK; Tim Walter, Jr., C.
New Mexico: Zach Arnett, Sr., LB; Herbert Felder, Sr., LB.
San Diego State: Russell Allen, Sr., LB; Corey Boudreaux, Sr., DB; B.J. Williams, So., DE.
TCU: Aaron Brown; Sr., K; Marcus Cannon, So., OL; Andy Dalton, So., QB; Anson Kelton, Fr., P; Nick Sanders; Jr., CB; James Vess, Sr., NT; Jimmy Young, So., WR.
UNLV: Johan Asiata, Sr., OL; Casey Flair, Sr., WR, Frank Summers, Sr., RB; Malo Tuamua; So., DL.
Utah: Greg Newman, Sr., DL; David Reed, Jr., KR; Zane Taylor, So., OL; Mike Wright; Jr., LB.
Wyoming: Tim Bond; Sr., C; Kyle Howard, Sr., OL; Chris Prosinski, So., DB; Mitch Unrein, Jr., DL.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christensen finds the right fit with Wyoming

“I thought all of the ingredients were there. They have a tradition for having blue-collar hard-nosed kids and that is what it is going to take. If we can bring in an offense that is exciting and can score some points and be a solid in special teams and continue to play defense the way they have been playing defense at Wyoming, then I think we’ll have a chance to win some games.” -- UW head football coach Dave Christensen

By Richard Anderson

Dave Christensen met the press on Tuesday -- via the telephone -- with his first official appearance as head football coach for the Wyoming Cowboys.

Among the first questions asked was plain and simple: Why Wyoming?

“First of all, I have wanted to be a head coach for some time. It’s been a career goal for me,” said the longtime Missouri assistant coach and offensive coordinator. “I’ve had an opportunity to interview at some other places -- I’ve had an opportunity to interview at a couple of other places this year. What I wasn’t going to do was I wasn’t going to take a job or interview for a job that I didn’t feel like I had a chance to go to and turn the program around and compete for a conference championship.”

Christensen said that Wyoming has the resources and the facilities to do just that. He credits UW president Tom Buchanan and UW athletics director Tom Burman for the “unbelievable administration,” trying to provide what it takes to build a foundation for a championship program.

“I thought all of the ingredients were there,” he added. “They have a tradition for having blue-collar hard-nosed kids and that is what it is going to take. If we can bring in an offense that is exciting and can score some points and be a solid in special teams and continue to play defense the way they have been playing defense at Wyoming, then I think we’ll have a chance to win some games.”

While this is Christensen's first head coaching job on the collegiate level, he won’t be going in blind as a newcomer. He’s done his homework and now he said he is ready to be the head man.

“I really researched the job prior to interviewing,” Christensen said. “In my process in looking at the University of Wyoming, I asked all of the questions as to why I couldn’t win at Wyoming. Those questions kept coming back to me that there weren’t a lot of reasons why you can’t win there. I just felt really good about of the support, things it takes to win to attract kids -- a great community, a great education, a great facilities, great tradition and great support from the administration. All of the things I was looking for to build a program were at the University of Wyoming.”

Christensen said he had interviewed for head jobs in four of the last five years. The other jobs, he said, just weren’t the right fit.

“I think I have never been more prepared than I am now,” he said. “The last two years, I have really put in a lot of focus on preparing myself as a head coach and preparing all of the plans to every phase of a program. I’m able to go and implement it and build a program. I’ve been coaching football for 23 of the last 25 years. I think I have paid my dues and prepared for this job for basically 25 years. I’m excited about the opportunity and looking forward to getting to Laramie and getting things going.”

Burman said that all he really knew about Christensen before meeting him last week for the first time was his experience and success as an offensive mind.

“I found that very intriguing. Without knowing him, I wouldn’t have written him down as the one guy going in because I had never met Dave before I met him in Columbia (Missouri) a week ago,“’ Burman said.

That meeting and the second interview, however, sold Burman on his new coach.

“I felt really good after we had a chance to meet with Dave,” Burman added. “I felt very good, obviously, going into to it that Dave would be great candidate. Once I had a chance to sit down and have a chance to listen to his plan and talk to him about his vision for the University of Wyoming, I knew he was the right fit.”

Because Christensen is going to continue coaching for Missouri in the Big 12 title game Saturday against Oklahoma and then in a bowl game, he’ll spend some of his time at Columbia and some of his time at Laramie. He’ll even try to get out on the recruiting road when he can.

Although he wanted the Wyoming job first and foremost, he said he wasn’t going to leave Missouri and longtime friend, head coach Gary Pinkel, without finishing his job this year.

“I owe the program for what it has done for me,” he said. “I want an opportunity to finish the season with the kids who are here. They are very, very dedicated, and I owe it to them to do that. It’s also a great opportunity for my family, who sacrifices a lot, to be able to go to a bowl game. My plan is after the championship game, to get up to Laramie on Sunday and get some of my staff and evaluate personnel that we have, evaluate recruiting areas, recruits who have committed and recruits who we are going to go out and actively recruit. I will get with all of the staff on Monday and have an opportunity to meet the media and the fans and get an opportunity to meet the team.”

With that in mind, Christensen’s heart is still a Tiger, but his thoughts and his future are about being a Cowboy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christensen named UW coach

Missouri photo
Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen will become the 31st head coach in Wyoming football history.

University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman officially announced Monday that Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen will be the new head football coach of the Cowboys. He becomes the 31st coach in Wyoming football history.

“We are thrilled to be able to attract a coach with the experience that Coach (Dave) Christensen brings to our program,” said Burman in a release. “He is one of the great offensive minds in college football, and he will bring a very exciting brand of football to Jonah Field.

“The plan he presented to us for building a comprehensive program was the best we heard in our search process. I am confident that he will put an outstanding coaching staff together, and that they will hit the ground running. With Dave leading Cowboy football, I believe our program will make dramatic progress in the coming years and return to a position of prominence in the Mountain West Conference.”

Christensen agreed to terms with Wyoming on Sunday. His contract as new head coach will pay him a base salary of $180,000 per year for five years. With academic, competitive and revenue incentives, Christensen’s total package could exceed $750,000 per year.

Christensen was named the 2007 National Offensive Coordinator of the Year by and was also runner-up for the 2007 Frank Broyles Award, which honors the top assistant coach in the nation each season.

He has helped lead the Missouri Tigers to the Big 12 Championship game each of the past two seasons -- 2007 and 2008.

His 2008 Tiger offense has averaged 45.0 points per game to rank No. 4 in the nation in scoring offense. Missouri has averaged 344.3 yards passing this season, which also ranks No. 4 in the country, and the Tigers have accounted for 509.4 yards of total offense per game, ranking No. 6 in the NCAA.

Missouri was ranked No. 13 in last week’s Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings.
The 2007 season saw Missouri conclude the season ranked No. 4 in the final Associated Press ranking. That was the highest season-ending ranking in school history for the Tigers. Mizzou finished the season by defeating Arkansas, 38-7, in the Cotton Bowl, giving the Tigers a school record 12th win on the season. His 2007 offense ranked No. 5 in the nation in total offense (490.3 yards per game), No. 8 in scoring offense (39.9 points per game) and No. 9 in passing offense (314.1 yards per game).

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be given the opportunity to lead the Wyoming Cowboy football program,” said Christensen. “The opportunity to become a head coach is something I’ve been preparing for my entire career.

“This is a great job at an outstanding university. Wyoming has a rich football tradition, and combined with the new, state-of-the art facilities, I know we can win here. I have already begun to put my coaching staff together, and we will strive to provide the people of Wyoming with a great product in all phases of the game. I can’t wait to get started, and my family can’t wait to become a part of this great state and this great University.

“I want to thank Tom Burman and President Buchanan for the confidence they’ve shown in giving me this opportunity. I also want to thank Gary Pinkel (head coach at Missouri), who I have coached with for the past 17 years, for his friendship and for the opportunities he has provided me professionally through the years.

“Finally to the Wyoming players. I am a blue-collar coach, and I know that the Cowboys have a reputation for being a blue-collar team. I can’t wait to get back to Laramie, meet all of you and go to work.”

Christensen will coach in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday in a game to be played in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. Missouri earned its spot in the Big 12 Championship game by virtue of winning the Big 12 North.

He is also expected to coach in the Tigers’ bowl game to conclude this season, but has already made plans to have assistant coaches in place at Wyoming as quickly as possible to begin recruiting for the Cowboys.

Due to Missouri’s preparation for this week’s Big 12 Championship game, Christensen returned to Columbia, Mo., on Sunday. He and Burman will be available on a teleconference for Wyoming media on Tuesday at 5 p.m.. He will be introduced to Wyoming fans and media at a press conference in the coming weeks.

Christensen has served as an assistant coach under Gary Pinkel since 1992 -- first at the University of Toledo from 1992-2000 and then at Missouri from 2001-2008. Christensen has been Pinkel’s offensive coordinator since 1997, and has coached the offensive line the past 16 seasons. He is in his eighth season as Assistant Head Coach on Pinkel’s staff.

Beginning in 2005, Christensen devised and implemented one of college football’s most exciting, no-huddle, spread offenses.

A year ago, Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting, while Christensen’s offense scored a school record 558 points, far surpassing the previous Missouri record of 399 points in a single season.

In addition to Daniel’s fourth-place finish in the 2007 Heisman Trophy voting, Christensen’s offensive unit had three other Tigers earn national honors. Senior tight end Martin Rucker and freshman wide receiver Jeremy Maclin were both Consensus First Team All-American selections, marking the first time in Missouri school history that it had two consensus First Team All-Americans in the same season. Senior center Adam Spieker was named a finalist for the Rimington Award, which honors the nation’s top offensive center each season. Spieker also earned Third Team All-America honors from Associated Press.

Three additional Tiger offensive linemen earned All-Big 12 honors in 2007, including Tyler Lullen (a Second Team selection), Colin Brown (Honorable Mention All-Big 12) and Kurtis Gregory (Honorable Mention All-Big 12).

Recognized by his peers as one of the top coaches in the country, Christensen was the runner-up for the 2007 Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2007. The award is presented annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

The Tigers finished the 2006 season with the nation’s No. 8 ranked offense, averaging 425.6 yards per game, and that included the nation’s No. 10 ranked passing attack, at 276.2 yards an outing. Two of Christensen’s linemen earned All-Big 12 honors, as senior tackle Joel Clinger earned First Team honors by league coaches, while Clinger and center Adam Spieker both earned honorable-mention status from the Associated Press.

Christensen’s offense underwent a major transformation to a spread, no-huddle attack in 2005, and was very successful in ‘05. His attack, executed by record-setting quarterback Brad Smith, ended the 2005 season ranked in the top four in the Big 12, and in the Top 40 nationally in three major categories - rushing (205.3 yards per game - No. 3 in the Big 12 and No. 17 in the NCAA), total offense (429.8 ypg - No. 4 in the Big 12 and No. 24 in the nation) and scoring offense (30.8 points per game - No. 4 in the Big 12 and No. 34 in the country).

Despite going to battle each week with a young offensive line that featured just one senior starter, the offense jelled right away, as the Tigers rolled to 657 yards in the 2005 season opener against Arkansas State. That was just three yards shy of the school record. Three of Christensen’s linemen won All-Big 12 honors in 2005, led by senior left guard Tony Palmer, who earned First Team league honors for the first time in his career. He was joined by sophomore center Adam Spieker and junior right tackle Joel Clinger, who both won honorable mention acclaim by league coaches. Palmer eventually became a seventh-round draft pick in the 2006 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.

In 2003, the Tiger rushing attack proved to be one of the most potent in the nation, as MU led the Big 12 Conference, and ranked sixth nationally with an average of 237.5 yards per game. That marked the first time since 1960 that MU won a conference rushing championship, when the Tigers led the old Big Eight with a mark of 249.3 yards per game. Its 3,087 rushing yards for the season ranked second in school history. Senior center A.J. Ricker and senior tackle Rob Droege each earned First Team All-Big 12 honors for their play in 2003, while sophomore guard Tony Palmer earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 status. Ricker and Droege both signed free agent contracts in the spring of 2004 with the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. Scott Paffrath signed a free agent deal with the Washington Redskins following the 2005 NFL Draft.

Under Christensen’s guidance, Mizzou featured one of the most potent attacks in school history in 2002. The Tigers averaged 30.0 points per game, and the 360 points scored were the third-most in MU history at the time. Christensen’s balanced run-pass attack turned redshirt freshman quarterback Brad Smith into one of the nation’s most talked about players, as he became just the second player in NCAA Division I-A history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

Mizzou’s emphasis on a disciplined attack also produced an offense that led the nation in fewest turnovers, with just 11 offensive giveaways in 12 games.

In his final seven seasons at the University of Toledo, the Rockets’ offense set or reset some 75 school records. During that period, the Rockets had an undefeated and MAC championship season (11-0 in 1995) and three MAC West titles (1995, 1997 and 1998).

In 1999, Toledo was 10th in the country in rushing (239.2) and led the nation in yards per attempt (5.35).

Christensen came to Toledo from Idaho State University where he coached the offensive line, tight ends and running backs for two years. Prior to his stint at Idaho State, he served two years as an assistant coach under Don James at the University of Washington. He also played football for the Huskies from 1980-82.

Christensen coached Andy McCollum, the center for the St. Louis Rams while at Toledo. Another lineman, Colin Westerich, made the Sporting News All-America Team in 1999.

Christensen earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Western Washington in 1985 and a master of science degree in college instruction and sports science from Eastern Washington in 1988.

He and his wife Susie have three children, Katie, D.J. and Emily.