Sometimes I think Wyoming gets a bad wrap. To field a major college football program in the state of Wyoming takes a certain level of bravery, or perhaps stupidity, yet Wyoming has been doing it for a long time, first as a founding member of the WAC and later one of the original Mountain West Conference members. Sure, Wyoming may not be the most competitive program out there. Bill Clinton was in office the last time Wyoming had consecutive winning seasons. Over the last decade the casual college football fans probably know more about Wyoming’s uniforms than Jay Novacek, who went from the Wyoming Cowboys to the Dallas Cowboys during their 1990s Super Bowl years (after a stop in the Cardinals organization). You can credit that to ESPN’s humorous Bottom 10 feature during the college football season, which had a reserved spot for Wyoming’s uniforms.
Wyoming’s brown and yellow colors tend to yield some dull uniform options, but I actually think Wyoming has found a way to make them work. You know I can be picky about uniforms. I used to think Wyoming was a bit of a wreck, but over time I have grown to respect how Wyoming has committed to owning the color scheme and finding ways to make it work. I may not like the all-yellow uniforms, but this is a basic uniform philosophy across the board I just cannot get on board with. It’s not you Wyoming, it’s me.
Wyoming football certainly does not have a pool of talent to recruit from within the state boundaries. Wyoming is the least populated state in the country and as you might expect, the program is relatively isolated. This does not mean success in football is unfounded. At the FCS level we have seen Montana and Montana State build reputable programs and North Dakota State has thrived at the FCS level as well. If Wyoming was playing at the FCS level, would they be able to have similar success? It would be overly speculative to assume so but with the right guidance and commitment anything would be possible. Mountain West Conference rival Boise State has become the model program in the region.
But I think the image is changing for Wyoming. I am not anywhere near saying we have a Boise State clone in the making, although I would definitely encourage the program to emulate the Broncos as closely as possible without losing their identity. But over the past couple of years I think Wyoming has taken some measures to try and build some excitement about the program. The latest move was a redesign of the field and end zones on the football field, which received high praise around the college football blogosphere this week.
The design above is what Wyoming’s field at War Memorial Stadium will look like this fall, upgrading the field from this. I have to say, I love it. Let’s review the features that I think make this one of the best looking fields in college football for the 2013 season.
One of the drawbacks, in my book, is that the new Wyoming field is an artificial turf. I prefer my college football to be played on natural grass of course so any time field turf is used it is sad to see. But the technology continues to improve and many schools see a benefit to a potential lower maintenance cost. For Wyoming, an artificial field makes plenty of sense (or cents). Getting past that little fact, the field design is terrific.
Alternating Greens: If the graphic is going to be truly representative of what we can look forward to, Wyoming’s playing surface will alter in shades of green slightly every five yards. For some reason I always seemed to like that visual, and it can actually help make the game easier to watch as long as the shades of green are not too far apart or extreme.
Field Logos: I happen to like Wyoming’s logo, with a cowboy riding his galloping horse while waving his hat in the air. That logo remains at midfield, outlined in white to stand out a little more. The Mountain West Conference logos will now be shaded in Wyoming colors instead of the purple and gray. This is a significant improvement as brown, yellow, purple and gray just is not a good look. What I find kind of odd is that the conference logos both face the same way, which is nothing new. This is done for TV purposes, as the TV cameras will capture the conference logos without forcing the viewer to mentally turn the logo around. I always thought it made more sense to have the logos face the closest sideline, but everything is about TV. No gripes here, just expanding on the thought.
7,220 Feet: Mile High Stadium, the former home of the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies, had a marker to remind fans (and the opposition) that they were actually one mile above sea level (I’m not sure if either pro stadium in Denver does this any more, please feel free to fill me in if they do). Laramie, Wyoming is roughly 2,000 feet higher above sea level. If you did not already know that, War Memorial Stadium’s sidelines are going to remind you of that fact. The elevation is printed on the sideline by the end zones on each sideline. I like giving opponents a gentle reminder of just how quickly they could lose their breath while playing the Cowboys. It is the highest stadium elevation in the FBS.
The End Zones: The new end zone designs are great. The Wyoming end zones used to be a brown background with yellow block lettering reading “Wyoming” and “Cowboys” in each end zone. Simple, and bland. No more. Wyoming’s new design doesn’t just include a more unique font to spell out “Wyoming” and “Cowboys,” but they even add in a mountain landscape design to represent the Teton Mountains. Yes, it looks like something ripped from The Oregon Trail, but it is unique and symbolic of Wyoming’s geography and conference affiliation.
Do these visual modifications make Wyoming a better football team? Of course not. But it does give us a reason to praise Wyoming football, and this does not happen enough.
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