LARAMIE — With the 2017-18 school year coming to a close, the Star-Tribune caught up with Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman to reflect on the year that was.
Wyoming’s revenue sports saw varying degrees of success in 2017-18. The football team went 8-5, finishing tied for second in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West and winning a bowl game for the first time since 2009.
“That program is at the level now where our expectations are to play for a championship,” Burman said. “We did that two years ago. We didn’t last year, but we had a great finish with the bowl game. We were proud of what we accomplished last year, but we’re committed to football, and we’re trying to continue to invest in it in a fashion that will allow us to compete for championships. We’ve got a great staff and a great group of young men, and that’s our goal going into this year.”
The Cowboys failed to meet the goal of a New Year’s Six bowl set before the year with future first-round draft pick Josh Allen returning at quarterback. Still, under fourth-year coach Craig Bohl, the Cowboys managed consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1998-99 — even with Allen missing two games to injury.
Under second-year coach Allen Edwards, Wyoming men’s basketball finished seventh in the Mountain West, despite pulling off a number of signature wins against some of the top teams in the conference.
“We finished seventh, and so seventh isn’t good enough,” Burman said. “But there were some signs this year of some really good things. You look at, there were times this year when I thought that Cowboy basketball was really good. But, unfortunately, there were times when it wasn’t really good. And they’ve got to find a way as a staff and a program to limit those up and downs.
“This will be an interesting situation, because even though Coach Edwards was on (previous coach Larry Shyatt’s) staff, he’s trying to do it differently. He was very admirable in that he maintained the kids that Coach Shyatt recruited to his program, to his style of play, and found a way to be decent. And now, obviously with this year he’s got a huge recruiting class. You’re going to see more kids that fit his style, and in the next couple years, I think it will be interesting to see how they develop and grow and become competitors. We expect them to compete for championships, and we’ve got a little ways to go, but he’ll get there.”
Wyoming basketball fans have grown restless since the season with the Cowboys losing at least nine players from last year’s team to graduation or transfer. However, Burman isn’t yet worried about having to evaluate Wyoming’s coaching situation.
“We want to see the trend going up,” he said. “We want to see the program moving in the right direction, and we’re not in a position after two years where we’re really worried about, ‘Oh no, we’ve got a pending situation we’ve got to deal with.’ But we’ve got to get better.
“We’ve got a turnover. Some turnover is good. A lot of turnover, if you don’t handle it right — second-year head coach, if he doesn’t handle it right — it’s going to be a problem for him. But he’s a pretty savvy guy. He has a good staff. I think (recently hired assistant coach Shaun) Vandiver’s going to be a great addition to the staff. So I think (Edwards) has just got to get young kids to grow up quick.”