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Do we really expect Wyoming Cowboys to be mediocre?

Nov 19, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Saturday's weather forecast for Wyoming's final home football game looks pretty good, actually. Sunny, high around 33 degrees, no chance of precipitation, and winds around 11 mph.

Not bad. Not great, but not bad.

We'll take it.

At 7,220 feet near the end of November, it undoubtedly will be shirtsleeve weather from some overenthusiastic students who will be hoping the Cowboys can rebound from four straight losses and get their fifth win of the season when they host Hawaii at high noon in Laramie.

A win would be nice and would give the Pokes a chance to get to .500 with a win at Utah State the following week as they close their fall campaign.

Again not great, but not that bad.

Apparently that's what we've come to expect from the Cowboys.

"Good enough is good enough," is our pervading opinion about wins and losses and Wyoming Cowboy football and men's basketball. That's what a report from Collegiate Sports Associates that was released earlier this month said.

Before he resigned, UW president Robert Sternberg and current athletics director Tom Burman invited the CSA team to campus to conduct a program review to see how to make UW's football team and the men's basketball team more competitive year in and year out.

When the University of Wyoming received the report from the CSA, it concluded that Laramie's relative geographic isolation, resulting in high travel costs, its very small market, difficult travel logistics and scheduling issues are issues that affect student-athlete recruitment, staff recruitment and retention, alumni support, ticket sales and game attendance.

No news there.

"Wyomingites love their Cowboys and exhibit an abiding, infectious passion for the University that is embraced throughout the State. Competitively successful football and men's basketball programs can capture the headlines as well as the hearts of the people of the state.

This is an undeniable asset that can benefit the entire university," was one of the conclusions of the report.

No news there either, except for those ambiguous words, "competitively successful." As my UW psychology professor, the late Dr. Wilson Walthall, may have said, "What does it mean?"

And, I'll add, at what cost?

What we've learned from the report is that the UW athletics department believes it works hard to overcome challenges of bringing big-time athletics to Laramie and Wyoming but that there is room to improve and create a "culture of progress."

The report suggests many things, including better quality on-campus housing for UW athletes, a "branded" recruiting experience where every moment of the trip from Denver International Airport to Laramie and back is scripted (think limo-quality rides with recruiting messages, videos and games all targeted for the 15- to 20-year-old-kid), improved athletic branding and training for coaches, students and staff, more majors that will appeal to student-athletes, access to private aircraft for coaches' recruiting efforts, better uniforms, more staff, better pay for assistants below the coordinator level, access to charter flights for athletic travel, better scheduling to allow more time in the classroom, and athlete access to trained sports psychologists, nutritionists and team physicians.

And, the report notes that spending in the athletic department at UW has only increased 22 percent from 2005-2011 while spending at other Mountain West Conference school has risen 51 percent.

The report suggests that private fiscal support of UW athletics is a key factor that limits the school's ability to compete.

The report says, "The existing culture does not expect championships for UW football and men's basketball."

Can that possibly be right? I hope not.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red! And Go Brown and Gold!

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