The speculation started as soon as Dave Christensen walked out the door.
Christensen's longtime quarterback, Brett Smith, had only played collegiately under one man. Christensen was the one who gave him a chance, who offered Smith a scholarship when few others would. Christensen molded Smith into the ideal quarterback for his spread attack, someone who could just as easily toss the ball 30 yards downfield or tuck it and scramble for a hard-earned first down.
After five years at Wyoming, Christensen was gone. And without Smith's head coach, the rumors started brewing, worried Wyoming fans fearing the very worst. On message boards and through social media, the question was asked without a definitive answer.
Did Brett Smith plan to transfer?
The answer, with absolute certainty, is no.
“Brett isn’t and would never consider transferring,” Kevin Smith, Brett's father, said on Sunday night.
The Cowboys' junior captain attended new coach Craig Bohl's introductory press conference on Sunday, wearing a white striped shirt and tie and calmly watching as Christensen's successor promised a bright future to a delighted Wyoming crowd.
To that point, he had never met Bohl. But he and his family have plenty of faith in the man who hired him, eighth-year athletic director Tom Burman.
“Tom’s the man," Kevin Smith said. "He made a special trip to Salem to see us after the bowl game Brett’s freshman year to tell us how happy he was to have him, and that he would do everything in his power to make sure he was taken care of.
"We’ll always be appreciative of him for that.”
While Bohl runs a very different offense at North Dakota State than the one Smith is used to, the junior quarterback can take solace in the fact that the Bison's quarterback has a similar skill set to his own.
Brock Jensen, North Dakota State's three-year starter, has thrown for 2,325 yards with 28 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound quarterback has also run for 354 yards and six touchdowns.
Now, take a look at Smith, another three-year starter. Also 6-3, Smith threw for 3,375 yards and 29 touchdowns this year. He ran for 573 yards and four more scores.
Though Bohl prides himself on a physical brand of smash-mouth football, it's apparent that a quarterback like Smith can have success in his pro-style offense. The 55-year-old coach said on Sunday that the building block to any offense is its quarterback.
They already have one at Wyoming.
"When you build a football team, you better be really good at quarterback, you better be really good at defensive tackle, and you better be really good at corner. That’s where you start," Bohl said. "So I know we’ve got a really good quarterback here."
Bohl didn't say that he was going to adopt a spread offense to match the personnel he currently has on Wyoming's roster. The Cowboys are going to run the ball, attempting to control the line of scrimmage and sustain drives.
And that mindset, he said, should ultimately benefit Smith.
"You look and say, ‘What skillset does this guy have? What can he do?’ And I know he can do a lot," Bohl said. "But to be one-dimensional, that’s hard. That’s unfair for a quarterback. Brett Favre was a heck of a lot better when he had Adrian Peterson.
"So we’ll look at building that, but you have to be great at quarterback."
Following a 5-7 season in 2013, Smith admitted that those in the program had to take a hard look at themselves and figure out what they needed to do to be more successful. For Burman, that meant cutting loose a head coach he hired and replacing him with a two-time FCS national champion.
All along, Smith believed his coaches and teammates would do what was necessary in order to make strides.
“I think everybody has to do a little bit of self-evaluation, and just continue to work and continue to try our best to get better and learn from it," Smith said after Wyoming's season-ending 35-7 loss to Utah State. "I think that’s what we’re going to do.”
Under Bohl, the Cowboys' task will be to develop the talent they have and turn that product into a winner. It will take a willingness to change and work hard in order to adopt and embrace a new system.
And while Wyoming doesn't yet possess all of the pieces it needs to reach the mountain top, it can at least say it has a quarterback ready to lead the way.
Brett Smith, the face of the program over the past three seasons, will only ever represent two colors on the collegiate level:
Brown and gold.