Ri­valry fa­mil­iar to Cow­boys fans, not play­ers

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Bran­don Fos­ter

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.”

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