University of Wyoming President Bob Sternberg recently hired an outside consultant to evaluate the Cowboys' football program, then report back to him and the university's board of trustees with recommendations on how to implement a plan for winning.
Sternberg, who became UW president on July 1, declined to name the consultant and say when he made the hire. He did say that both the football and men's basketball programs will be evaluated. It wasn't clear whether the basketball evaluation was also immediately underway and Sternberg didn't return calls late Wednesday afternoon requesting details on the consultant's cost.
The football team is coming off a stunning 52-22 loss to rival Colorado State on Saturday in the annual Border War at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. The Cowboys entered the game 4-2 overall and 2-0 in Mountain West Conference play; the Rams 2-4 and 0-1. Wyoming surrendered 509 total yards and seven touchdowns.
Wyoming hadn't allowed 50 or more points against Colorado State since a 60-0 loss on Oct. 14, 1922.
"It’s not only about the league play. It’s about our special relationship with Colorado State. So I think that every University of Wyoming fan was very disappointed," Sternberg said. "But I think it’s modifiable. We need to do better, and I’m optimistic that we will do better.”
Sternberg said one way to expose areas that need improvement is to seek outside help.
The timing of the evaluations suggests that at this point, the football team is of main concern.
“I was hoping we’d be at a different place at this point in the season," Sternberg said. "We’re not, and so it makes sense to get some advice about what we can do to optimize our resources.”
All aspects of the football program, including coaches, day-to-day operations, facilities and recruiting are up for evaluation. Sternberg expects to receive a written report within two weeks.
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Sternberg emphasized that although the Colorado State game was a recent disappointment, the university's athletics programs have underachieved during a longer period of time.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that recent years have been more uneven than anyone would ideally like," he said. "And I think athletics is really important to the university, in terms of our service to the state. People want to have a winning team, and they want to have a team that they are excited about and they have a passion for.
"We’re not where we want to be yet, and I think we can get there. And sometimes it just helps to get someone from the outside to look at it and make suggestions about why things are not going as smoothly as you’d like, and what we can do to become the best we can be."
Wyoming is 8-11 since losing 37-15 against Temple in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl. Head coach Dave Christensen is 26-31 in five seasons including 1-1 in bowl games. Additionally, Christensen suffered his first loss against Colorado State in five meetings.
Sternberg said he likely wouldn't have sought outside help if the football team had showed more improvement up to this point.
“If we had a totally winning season, maybe I would have thought, ‘Well, perhaps this isn’t necessary,’" Sternberg said. "Things aren’t going terribly; they’re also not going optimally. I think everyone knows that.
"I have real confidence that we can get to where we want to get, and if we need some outside expert sports consultants to tell us how to get there, then we should do the same thing anyone should do, which is to get all the help we can.”
Sternberg said that for the university to reach its ultimate goals, Saturday's performance can't be repeated.
"I’d like us to be the No. 1 land grant institution, and that is a statement right off the bat that we are not there," he said. "We’re not where we want to be in athletics and we’re not where we want to be anywhere else.
"Organizations always need to be striving to be better.”