Author's Note: This is the third in a five-part series detailing coaches who deserve Coach of the Year Award consideration for the jobs they have done this season in turning around once-dismal programs. Part I can be found here. Part 2 can be found here.
Fielding a consistently successful football team is not exactly one of the strengths of the University of Wyoming Athletic Department. The last time the Cowboys had consecutive winning seasons was in 1998-1999.
Two years ago, Wyoming had some success under then-first-year Dave Christensen, who led the team to a 7-6 record that included an epic double-overtime win in the New Mexico Bowl. Led by quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, the Cowboys appeared to be positioned for a sustained stretch of success on the football field.
Last season, those hopes fell apart as the team finished with a 3-9 record. To make matters worse, Carta-Samuels decided to transfer to Vanderbilt (looks like that was a bad choice, since Jordan Rodgers appears to have a firm hold on the starting job there for the next several years).
Suddenly, a 3-9 record looked like a reasonable goal for this season, if not even a bit overly-optimistic.
Except those feelings of unavoidable gloom and despair are nowhere to be found in Laramie right now, thanks to Coach Christensen.
The Cowboys currently sit at 6-3, and need only one more win in order to become bowl-eligible (Wyoming needs seven wins this season in order to become bowl-eligible because they played two FCS teams). With games against New Mexico and Colorado State remaining, it is highly probable that the Cowboys will get at least one more win.
Freshman QB Brett Smith has been an incredibly pleasant surprise for the Wyoming faithful, as he has already thrown for over 2,000 yards with 14 touchdowns and only five interceptions, as well as rushing 89 times for 378 yards and eight touchdowns.
Suddenly, Carta-Samuels' transfer seems like a blessing in disguise. Smith has shown a type of focus and determination notably absent from Carta-Samuels' play last season.
Coach Dave Christensen has turned despair and hopelessness into success and joy, and has been able to overcome the daunting obstacles thrown at him. For that, he deserves some serious Coach of the Year consideration.