LARAMIE — The moment Josh Allen will most regret not declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft will come on a Monday. It will be at 9 a.m. And he will be sitting in Spanish II.
“I grew up in a Hispanic community, so you would think I would know (Spanish),” said Allen, who has the class four days a week. “My dad’s fluent in Spanish, but I just have never retained anything. So that’s going to be tough.”
As far as Wyoming fans are concerned, however, Allen knows the only Spanish word that matters: fiesta. As in, Fiesta Bowl, the junior quarterback’s goal for the Cowboys in 2017.
“Sí sí sí,” he said.
It has been Allen’s goal since he first made the decision to return to Wyoming, and the words have made an appearance in just about every interview he has given since — no small number, given his elevated profile as an NFL prospect.
His goal is not just to make the bowl, as the Group of Five’s representative in the New Year’s Six bowl, but to win it.
Allen told head coach Craig Bohl as much when he decided to spend 2017 in brown and gold.
“He loved that,” Allen said, “and he loves the competitiveness in me. I didn’t mean that as a joke. I meant that as a real deal. Let’s go do this thing.”
The Mountain West represented the Group of Five in a New Year’s Six bowl during the first year of the current College Football Playoff setup with Boise State defeating Arizona 38-30 in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. The last two years, however, Houston of the American Athletic Conference and Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference have taken the honor. That New Year’s Six bid is given to the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion.
So, winning a conference championship must come first. Last year, that was Allen’s stated preseason goal, and it’s been another this year. Having specific team goals is something Allen has grown up with.
“My dad always said, ‘Those who fail to plan plan to fail,’” Allen said. “Putting your goals at a higher level, setting your sights on those things and checking off every list, that’s just how I’ve always grown up working.
“I’m trying to bring that to this team, and everyone’s buying into the Fiesta Bowl. I know Coach Bohl, he’s very much for it and believing we can do it. He’s put together this team, and I trust his judgment, and I’m ready to go out there and prove to people that we are a legit contender.”
Bohl has high expectations himself. He doesn’t shy away from being honest in his evaluations of the Cowboys. Last year, before Wyoming’s turnaround season, he admitted the program was behind schedule. After a division title in 2016, he now says the Cowboys are ahead of schedule. Still, he has been forthcoming when stating his next goal at Wyoming: returning the Cowboys to national prominence.
Winning a Fiesta Bowl would certainly achieve that.
“I think it’s trickled down,” offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said. “If our leaders have high expectations, that’s going to hopefully permeate the team. And hopefully, along with those high expectations, (what) they demand of their teammates and themselves — those two things have got to match. You can’t have high expectations without demanding a lot, and I think thus far in camp, those two things have gone hand in hand.
“I think there’s been little talk of our expectations. There’s been just more talk of demanding (a lot) of each other each and every day. When those two things meet, you’ve got a chance.”
Luckily for Allen, “chance” can be spelled the same in both Spanish and English.