Craig Bohl played to his audience.
At a pep rally that’s becoming an annual event for Wyoming’s athletic department, the Cowboys’ football coach stood on the stage at David Street Station, looked out at the hundreds of Wyoming fans gathered in front of him and drew the loudest ovation of the night with one line.
“It’s 72 days until we whup the Missouri Tigers,” Bohl belted into his microphone, referring to Wyoming’s Aug. 31 season opener against the Southeastern Conference counterpart at War Memorial Stadium.
For the second straight year, fans in and around Casper were treated to a night of optimism and connection with some of Wyoming’s coaches and top athletic administrators outside of Laramie, where the university is located.
Bohl, men’s basketball coach Allen Edwards and athletic director Tom Burman again made the summer trek to Casper on Thursday to engage with fans in a rally that lasted just less than an hour at the downtown venue. The athletic department originally partnered with David Street Station and the McMurry Companies last year to bring the event to town.
“This is a unique setup in Wyoming,” said Burman, who served as the emcee. “The people of Casper are really well-organized, and we have a good following from Casper.”
Between the Wyoming band playing songs and student-athletes throwing T-shirts into the crowd, fans either stood, rested in lawn chairs or sat in the grass to listen to each coach and administrator speak for a few minutes. That included interim university President Neil Theobald and women’s basketball coach Gerald Mattinson, who made his first public appearance since being promoted in the spring to take over for the retired Joe Legerski.
Edwards was the first coach to speak and said his team is fully healthy after the Cowboys dealt with a rash of injuries that played their part in an 8-24 record last season. He also introduced a handful of newcomers expected to help next season in freshmen Kenny Foster and Kwane Marble and junior college transfers Greg Milton III and Tyler Morman.
“I just think it’s important, especially when you talk about the location of Laramie and you’ve got your fan base kind of pulling from Cheyenne,” Edwards said. “Then probably Casper is the next closest place that a bulk of our fans are coming from. We came down last year and had a great time. It’s something we do getting out in the public, and I always look forward to doing that.”
Bohl, who was accompanied by Wyoming players and Natrona County High graduates Logan Wilson, Josh Harshman and Brett Brenton, was the last coach to speak. He appealed to the locals not only with his optimistic outlook following last season’s 6-6 showing but by also stressing the importance of homegrown talent to Wyoming’s success in the kind of public appearance that doesn’t happen too often away from campus.
“I think the thing that’s important is we’re the University of Wyoming, not the University of Laramie,” Bohl said. “Any time there’s a chance for us to get to different parts of the state, I think it’s really helpful. We have a lot of fans around the state.”