Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl filled the vacancy on his staff Tuesday with the hiring of Willie Mack Garza, who will coach safeties at UW.

Mack Garza spent four years with Coach Bohl at North Dakota State, the first season as secondary coach, while the last three were as defensive coordinator. He replaces departed linebackers coach Jay Niemann. It also means that defensive coordinator Jake Dickert will move to coach linebackers, instead of safeties for the Pokes.

The veteran coach will enter his 24th season of coaching in the college ranks. Mack Garza played college football and graduated from the University of Texas. He’s had coaching stops with the Longhorns, Western Michigan, TCU, Tennessee, USC, Pearl River Community College, Prairie View A&M, Lamar, Tarleton State, Dixie State, and most recently, was at Texas A&M Commerce as the secondary coach in 2018.

In a release from the University of Wyoming, Coach Bohl expressed appreciation for being reunited with Willie Mack Garza.

“We are excited about the body of work and experience that Coach Garza brings to our coaching staff. Willie Mack and I have enjoyed a long relationship through the years. He is a seasoned coach, who had a lot to do with our defensive success at North Dakota State, and he is very experienced in coaching within our system.”

Bohl did admit that Mack Garza does come with a past.

“I do want to make one thing clear, Willie Mack has acknowledged a mistake he made 10 years ago that resulted in him being disciplined by the NCAA for a recruiting violation. Since then, he has been reinstated by the NCAA. We have a reputation of holding ourselves to high ethical standards here at the University of Wyoming, and I expect Coach Garza to follow those high standards.”

The same release shed light on the seriousness of the violations. It stated, in November 2012, the NCAA infractions committee imposed a three-year “show-cause” order upon Garza in connection with a recruiting violation he was involved in at the University of Tennessee in June 2009.  That “show-cause” order limited Garza’s ability to accept another job at an NCAA school during that three-year period.

That led to a comment from Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman.

“Our compliance staff has worked with the NCAA to gain a thorough understanding of exactly what occurred in relation to Coach Garza’s ‘show-cause’ order. Our compliance staff also reached out to other schools who have hired coaches who previously had ‘show-cause’ orders imposed upon them to get a better understanding of education they provided to those coaches and other processes they put in place. We are committed to bring in the best coaches available to help our student-athletes and our teams succeed, but we will never compromise our standards in regard to doing things the right way here at Wyoming.”

Willie Mack Garza is thankful for this opportunity with the Cowboys.

“First and foremost this is a blessing that Coach (Craig) Bohl and the University of Wyoming Athletics Department has provided me this opportunity to come coach here. I love coaching. It is in my blood. I love being around the players and the other coaches, going into the WAR Room and preparing. This is also an opportunity for me to provide a platform for young men to be successful on and off the football field in the four to five years that they are here and for the rest of their lives.”

He also addressed the NCAA violation from seven years back.
“I take this opportunity very seriously. It has been a blessing that I was fortunate enough to have met Coach Bohl back in 2005 when I was a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator for him. We developed a bond and a relationship that will last a lifetime. That is what this profession is all about. We’ve stayed in touch, and when this opportunity came we talked about it, and I’m excited to be in Wyoming.”

Mack Garza is part of three new coaches on Coach Bohl’s staff for the 2019 season. He joins offensive line coach Bart Miller and tight ends/fullbacks coach Shannon Moore.