“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.