Rivalry familiar to Cowboys fans, not players
laramie» Members of the Wyoming football team will have to look to the stands if they want to feel any additional hate for the opposing players during Wednesday’s Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
Wyoming and BYU once were fierce rivals, playing together in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, the Skyline Conference, the Western Athletic Conference and most recently the Mountain West for a span of 73 combined years.
At Qualcomm Stadium, the teams will meet on a football field for the first time since 2010.
“The only thing I know is that the fans don’t like them,” Wyoming junior running back Brian Hill said.
After 2010, the Cougars left the Mountain West to become an independent. That means no players on Wyoming’s current roster have ever been a part of a Wyoming-BYU game. In fact, none of the coaches has, either, except defensive tackles coach Pete Kaligis, who has been with the Cowboys since 2009.
“I really don’t know a whole lot about it,” junior linebacker Tim Kamana told the Casper Star-Tribune. “We’ve spoken a little about it here and there. People have brought it up. The coaches have brought it up, saying that it was an old rivalry game, but I don’t think any of us are really able to grasp the true meaning of it, just because we’ve never been a part of it.”
Even for players such as Logan Wilson, who grew up in Wyoming, knowledge of the defunct rivalry is slim.
“I didn’t take as much notice of the rivalry, because I was a little younger, so I didn’t follow it as much as some people probably would’ve,” said Wilson, a freshman.
Though no current Cowboys have participated in the rivalry, BYU has four players who were on the roster in 2010. Because many participate in missions before completing their football careers, Cougars tend to be older than a traditional college athlete.
“You’ve got 26-, 27-year-olds, and we’ve got kids straight out of high school,” sophomore nose tackle Sidney Malauulu said.
Wyoming does still have plenty of in-conference rivalry games. The Border War with Colorado State is the big one, but players also consider Wyoming’s annual game against Air Force to be a rivalry matchup, and the game against Utah State has been deemed the “Bridger’s Battle,” with a trophy rifle on the line.
But the Cougars, once just as hated as the Falcons and nearly as hated as the Rams, are no longer on the list.
“I don’t think that it’s necessarily that you learn to hate somebody in a week,” Kamana said. “It’s just that you look at them as the next person that’s standing in your way, the next person that’s in the way of your goals. And our goal is to win this bowl game.
“BYU is standing in the way of that, so we’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do to get it done.”