Tuck’s Take: Craig Bohl, Wyoming Football is at a Crossroads
LARAMIE -- He smiled. He joked. He deflected.
Does Craig Bohl plan to be the head coach at Wyoming next season?
"I'm excited about the future of Cowboy football," he said Monday during his weekly press conference. "Every year, at the end of the year, I sit down with my wife and see where we're at and what we're doing. I know this, we have 14 commitments. I've been out recruiting. So it's not like I'm saying, hey, I'm sacking the bats and let's just puff the pillow. We're working like a steer out there, like crazy."
"My main concern right now is the Hawaiian Rainbows."
Will he stay or will he go?
That response doesn't exactly ooze confidence either way. Bohl never uttered the word "yes," only stating that when he does hang up the whistle it will be right here.
"I made that commitment to Josh Allen," Bohl continued. "I made that commitment to our governors."
What we do know for certain is Bohl is entering the final year of his contract. That deal is set to expire at the conclusion of the 2024 season. The 65-year-old is set to become a lame-duck head coach unless an extension is reached this offseason.
Here's another fair question: Does Bohl even deserve more time on the sidelines in Laramie?
Boise State this week moved on from Andy Avalos after just two-plus seasons at his alma mater. The Broncos won double-digit games and appeared in the Mountain West title game a season ago. Avalos caps his brief career with a 22-14 overall record and a 17-6 mark in Mountain West play.
Simply put, that's not good enough -- for them.
“I’m not going to get into what’s going on in terms of my feelings and thought process as I navigate evaluating the program,” Boise State Athletics Director Jeramiah Dickey said Monday, adding his 'head, heart and gut' led him to the decision to axe Avalos. “I’m always watching, I’m always evaluating, especially with football, the changing of the landscape. Looking at the (College Football Playoff) expanding next year, it was the right time for me to make the decision and we’re moving forward.”
Brady Hoke is also out at San Diego State.
The 65-year-old announced he will retire at the end of the season with three years remaining on his current deal. Was that really Hoke's call? The Aztecs are just 3-7 overall and will finish with a losing record for the first time since 2009. The team is not filling up its brand-new stadium, either.
This, of course, all comes on the heels of a proposed offseason move to the PAC-12 that went up in smoke.
In two separate stints on Montezuma Mesa, Hoke finished with a combined 39-30 record and led his team to a conference championship game appearance in 2021.
Texas A&M would rather dish out nearly $77 million than have Jimbo Fisher coach its team. Penn State, which entered the weekend ranked 10th in the nation, let go of its offensive coordinator, Mike Yurcich, after the Nittany Lions managed just 238 yards of total offense -- 74 via the pass -- and just 15 points in a loss nine-point loss last Saturday to No. 3 Michigan.
Bohl opened his press conference Monday, praising the job UNLV's first-year head coach Barry Odom has done, even stating multiple times that he will vote for him as National and Mountain West Coach of the Year.
Odom's Rebels just took Wyoming to the woodshed (Bohl's words) last Friday night in a 34-14 victory inside Allegiant Stadium. UNLV is now tied for first-place in the league and can become the frontrunner this Saturday with a win at Air Force.
Boh's Cowboys, on the other hand, are playing for pride with two weeks remaining in the regular season. That's a theme that has become all-too common around here. Instead of playing meaningful football in late November, impatient fans are already mocking the potential of yet another meaningless bowl game in Boise.
Is that good enough for you?
Is that good enough for Tom Burman?
"Coach Bohl is at that stage in his life where I think we will sit down after each year and figure out where he wants to go and what's next for him," Wyoming's Athletics Director said back in July. "I love having him as the head coach at the University of Wyoming and he represents us very well nationally. I mean, obviously, the name of this game is winning, but we're pretty darn productive. I think we're going to be very good this year and having him on our sidelines is valuable."
The name of the game is indeed winning. Period.
Bohl, who will make more than $2.3 million this season and is the highest-paid coach in the Mountain West and fifth-most compensated in the Group of Five, instead Monday touted his graduation rates and development of young men.
Important? Yes. Noble? Also, yes.
The standard in college football today?
Bohl is 58-60 overall during his nine-plus seasons at Wyoming. He's 35-41 in conference play. He said he typically looks at things "glass-half-empty." If that's the case, here some facts:
* His UW teams have won eight regular-season games just once. That was in 2016.
* Bohl has been to just one Mountain West title game. Wyoming lost.
* The Cowboys are an abysmal (his words) 19-41 away from Laramie, including bowl games. All four losses this year have come on the road.
* Bohl is 1-9 against Boise State and winless against the Broncos on that famous blue turf in five tries. The Pokes were routed 32-7 inside Albertsons Stadium in late October.
* Wyoming's passing game -- since 2016 -- has been among the nation's worst. This year, Andrew Peasley and Co. rank 123rd overall, averaging just 152.3 yards per game. Only seven teams are worse, including Iowa, Army, Navy and Air Force. That's nothing new, unfortunately.
How about the glass-half-full approach?
* Bohl inherited a mess from the previous regime. He won just six games during his first two seasons. He also finished 2-4 in 2020 during a worldwide pandemic. Outside of those three seasons, Bohl is 50-38 overall and 29-25 in league play.
* The Cowboys have been solid at home under Bohl, going 39-19. Wyoming is 20-6 in Laramie since 2019. They have won all six of their games inside War Memorial Stadium this fall and have a chance to claim No. 7 Saturday against the Rainbow Warriors.
* UW has been bowl eligible in seven of Bohl's 10 seasons. They are 3-2 in the postseason.
* There are currently nine former Cowboys on active NFL rosters, seven of which were coached by Bohl.
* Wyoming has owned the Border War rivalry with Colorado State, winning 7-of-10 in the Bohl era.
* Aside from this season -- mainly due to injury -- The Cowboys have been one of the top rushing teams in the nation.
* No other coach in program history has lasted more than nine seasons in Laramie.
Bohl wasn't letting anyone forget that final fact.
"Not to say that I had opportunities, but there was a window," he said. "I knew that window was there. I mean, when we were in the championship game (in 2016), there were windows. There were even some opportunities during those bad years, and I felt really comfortable being here.
"I'm a Wyoming Cowboy and this is where I want to be."
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This football program is at a crossroads.
Does the athletics department reward that loyalty and simply continue to hope for the best? Does Bohl even want to return? If so, for how long?
Bohl is a good football coach. He has three diamond-encrusted national title rings to prove it. Yes, he graduates his players, values the walk-on system and recruits local prospects. He boasts arguably the best developmental program in the country. We've seen that firsthand by the number of players Wyoming has lost to the Power-5 and put in the league.
Bohl is also flawed and stubborn, continuing to promote a Cowboy Tough mantra that doesn't always mesh what transpires on the field. He talks about the complexity of route trees, play calls and his intricate prostyle offense. Guys who move onto the next level are ahead of the curve because of it.
With all due respect, though, who cares? If it doesn't work right here at Wyoming, does it matter? No. In fact, it's maddening. Bohl, who compared his line of thinking to that of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz (not exactly known for lighting up the scoreboard, either), even stood behind the podium Monday and clapped his hands as if he was awaiting a snap from center, before saying some offenses are so simplistic "If this guy is open, throw it. If not, take off and run."
Maybe this offense needs more of that? Less thinking, more playing.
Bohl has done a great job adapting and evolving. The old dog, to the surprise of many, has learned some new tricks, especially regarding the NCAA Transfer Portal and Name, Image and Likeness. He is now focused on building relationships with players and making that a priority. That has truly been refreshing to witness.
It's time to master a few more, however, mainly on the offensive side of the football.
Ask yourself this one final question: What will Bohl's legacy be at Wyoming if he were to hang it up today?
Are you satisfied with your answer?
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