Marcus Bailey Could Return Wyoming Cowboys Basketball to Respectability

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2011

Marcus Bailey should be hired as the next head basketball coach of the Wyoming Cowboys, and this change needs to happen soon.

With the exception of the ceremony honoring him as one of Wyoming's 10 best players of all time, Bailey hasn't graced the hardwood in Laramie Wyoming's Arena Auditorium since the 2002-03 season.

Even though he hasn't played in almost a decade, ask anyone around the state of Wyoming who their favorite Cowboy basketball player is, and they'll likely tell you it's Marcus Bailey.

The program has had a few decent players since the Bailey era, but none of them have generated anywhere near as much excitement as Marcus did.

He was a Wyoming kid who played the game the right way.  He was unselfish, poised and worked as hard as anyone in the country. 

Since he went down with an injury in 2002, no one in the brown and gold has been able to offer even a glimpse of the the kind of good times Pokes fans enjoyed during the first few seasons of the 21st century.

The Cowboys were 21-11 during Bailey's injury-shortened senior campaign.  Since then, they've gone 106-130, and they're 49-67 under fourth-year head coach Heath Schroyer.

The program is in disarray, and there seems to be little light at the end of the tunnel.

Wyoming is ranked 255th in the nation in points per game, 293rd in rebounds per game, 323rd in assists per game and 176th in field goal percentage. 

Last night, the Cowboys played some of their best basketball of the year against the BYU Cougars (who had their worst game of the year). 

They lost the game despite BYU's lone offensive threat, Jimmer Fredette, being as cold as any of us have seen him all year.

Following yet another conference loss (they're 1-7 so far), a man named Michael Welper started a group on Facebook called "Marcus Bailey for Coach".

In less than a day following the formation of the group, hundreds have already shown their support (a lot of people for the smallest state in the union).

On the group's wall, several people have said they'd buy or renew season tickets if the program hires Bailey.  Others have responded with simple statements like, "If he wants it, give it to him!!" or, "I will never miss a game!"

The Facebook page alone has generated a lot of buzz, but Mr. Welper isn't stopping there.  He also composed a letter that he plans to send to various Wyoming newspapers.  It reads:

"Cowboy Basketball Fans,

Many people consider me to be the biggest and most optimistic Wyoming fan there is. Therefore, writing this letter has been extremely difficult. After much consideration, the results from the past few seasons coupled with how poorly the team is performing this year requires some action to be taken. The Heath Schroyer experiment needs to stop. It is time for the University of Wyoming and him to part ways. The wins are few and far between, we are setting the wrong kind of records, and attendance at home games keep getting worse. Plus I believe fans are having a hard time relating to this team.

Therefore, the question arises, who should be the next coach? If all the information that I am hearing is correct, we have some limitations in who we can hire. 1) We don’t have the funds to go after a big name coach. 2) If we try hiring an assistant coach from somewhere, fans will not buy into the program right away. And what is to say that the new coach will have the same results like Schroyer 3) The program needs to make an instant splash so it can bring fans to the games and start generating excitement back to the program throughout the state.

If fans can think of one name that stands out in Cowboy Basketball history over the last ten years, what would that name be? MARCUS BAILEY!!! I see Marcus Bailey as a low risk, high reward coaching candidate. He doesn’t have any experience but he has played for UW and understands the program. He also went on to play for the Everton Tigers in England and did well. He fits a lot of the qualifications that we need 1) Without any experience, he wouldn’t require a huge sum of money, 2) Marcus Bailey would bring excitement back to the program and fans would come out to support him because he is a Wyomingite and fans would like to see him succeed. 3) If he is successful, chances are very good that he’ll stay here instead of looking for a job at a bigger school. 4) He understands the pride and history of Cowboy basketball and will work to restore it. 5) If Marcus Bailey doesn’t fair well after a few years, then let him go. What do we have to lose?!

Steve Alford wasn’t an assistant anywhere before he became head coach and look at how successful he has been. What do you think?

Michael Welper
Laramie, WY"

Welper does a great job of laying out some of the reasons Bailey should be hired.  I'll take this time to try to elaborate on a few of them.

He first mentions something that everyone is thinking about these days... money.  The Cowboys will have to work some kind of buyout if they fire Heath Schroyer and there won't be a ton of money left after that.  

They won't be able to bring in anyone who will have the same effect on the fans that Bailey will, at the price he could be had for.

He also discusses the connection Bailey has with Wyoming and the Cowboys' fans.  These people love being able to cheer for home-grown talent.  That love has been heightened over the last couple decades as coaches always seem to pass on some of Wyoming's best high school players.

Instead, they recruit players from the eastern United States, overseas, and basically anywhere outside of the state.

Every once in a while, they'll bring in a token Wyoming kid to try to justify themselves.

All that said, the Cowboys do have some decent players this season.

One of the biggest things they're lacking is leadership.  They have a little bit of talent, but they need a natural leader that can motivate and inspire players.

Speaking from personal experience, I can say that Marcus Bailey is just that kind of leader.  It's that leadership ability that will help him make an impact on the players.

On top of that, he'll instantly excite Wyoming's dwindling fan base.

The University needs to rejuvenate its fans as quickly as possible.  There is no doubt that the hiring of Marcus Bailey would do just that.

If you are from Wyoming, or are a fan of Cowboy basketball, search for "Marcus Bailey for Coach" on Facebook.  Post the link for this article on your walls.  E-mail the link for this article and the group to your friends.

We live in a day and age where the fan's voice can be heard more than ever before.  Let's take full advantage of this opportunity to tell the world, and more importantly, the brass at the University of Wyoming, what we want.


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