COLUMN: Breaking down Burman’s letter
LARAMIE -- It took just 70 words to get a major point across.
Tom Burman is frustrated and rightfully so. He expressed that in a letter to players, coaches and fans Thursday morning on social media.
For the second straight week, instead of watching the Cowboys play a football game against a rival inside War Memorial Stadium, Wyoming's athletics director instead has been burning up the phone lines trying to secure a replacement.
First, it was Air Force who couldn't travel to Laramie Nov. 14 because of COVID-19 concerns at the academy in Colorado Springs. It wasn't ideal, but the Falcons gave ample warning, especially in the era of a worldwide pandemic. That game was axed nearly a full week ahead of kickoff.
Burman couldn't find a suiter.
Wednesday, a little more than 24 hours until the Pokes and Aggies were supposed to battle for Jim Bridger's rifle, word came down that Utah State wouldn't be able to fulfill its duties for the same reason.
Again, no one wanted to come to Laramie.
Burman hasn't directly spoken to the media so we are going to have to read behind the lines a bit here.
It shouldn't be that difficult.
He mentions the word "regional."
Right now, we know 14 FBS games have been canceled or postponed around the nation this weekend. College Station, Texas isn't in the region. Neither is Huntington, West Virginia or Durham, North Carolina, among many others.
I spoke with UTEP head coach Dana Dimel Wednesday night. El Paso, Texas, is not in the region, but I wondered how far Burman might reach.
Not that far.
Dimel, Wyoming's head coach from 1997-99, wasn't interested anyway. He said his team could use a week off, though the Miners have also dealt with plenty of cancelations -- four home games -- this fall.
If we are talking regional, we are likely talking about programs in two Colorado cities: Fort Collins and Boulder.
Both Colorado and Colorado State also had games canceled this week. Could Burman be talking about these two? (Wink, wink)
Why wouldn't the Buffs want to play in Laramie? Well, they haven't made the 147-mile trek north since 1946. Why start now?
CSU, Wyoming's Border War rival, likely wasn't crazy about the idea either. Why? For one, they want to play CU. Secondly, Steve Addazio's team already played the Pokes this fall. That was on Nov. 5 -- the last time Craig Bohl's bunch actually played a game.
The Rams won 34-24. They claimed the Bronze Boot for the first time in five years.
Why would they give the rival Cowboys another crack? Especially in Laramie with 5,000 fans in the stands? Especially when CSU makes the return trip to the Gem City next fall? The Bronze Boot likely wouldn't have been part of this proposal, but could you imagine if the Rams had to hand that over after just a few weeks?
Can you see their point?
Here's the part of Burman's note that popped out most to me.
"I appreciate our players' focus on staying healthy and beg them to stay focused while preparing to play again."
Theses two cancelations weren't the fault of the Cowboys. Next week's game at UNLV, which could also be in serious jeopardy, likely won't be theirs either.
Imagine for a second you are one of these players.
Two weeks in a row -- after sitting on that loss to your biggest rival, no less -- the rug has been yanked out from under you. You've worked hard in the weight room and on the practice field. Most importantly, you have been fiercely dedicated. You aren't going to the bar, restaurants or house parties.
Remember, you're a college student.
This is where a couple of Burman's other sentences ring loud and clear.
"I wanted our players to have a chance to compete! They deserve it!!"
The exclamation points are there for a reason. They're warranted, too.
Aaron Bohl, Wyoming's linebackers coach and son of the seventh-year head coach in Laramie, put it perfectly in a tweet send Wednesday night:
There are plenty of naysayers out there. The pandemic is alive and well in Wyoming. It's causing a mess. Albany County, home of the university, is a "hot spot" the experts say. Some think the season shouldn't even be happening.
Don't count these players, coaches and staff in that group.
They are being responsible. They are taking proper precautions. They want to play.
One of the greatest clichés in sports is "control what you can control."
Wyoming's roster is doing just that -- and they should be very proud.
That's the hardest part to swallow right now.