Is there a former Wyoming football player deserving of a statue?
LARAMIE -- Outside the northwest gate of Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma, a nine-foot statue of Barry Sanders greets Oklahoma State fans each Saturday in the fall.
That got me thinking -- is there a player so immortal and deserving in Wyoming football history?
Now, there are plenty of statues around War Memorial Stadium, most featuring a rider on top of a bucking horse. There's the smaller version of "Steamboat" in the north end zone that Cowboys' players touch each time they enter Jonah Field for a game or practice.
It's like Howard's Rock at Clemson, Nebraska smacking the lucky horseshoe or Notre Dame pounding the "Play like a Champion" sign when leaving its locker room in South Bend.
All good stuff.
Back to the idea of a sculpture.
Just one University of Wyoming player has been honored in this regard. That is Kenny Sailors, a basketball pioneer who is credited with inventing the modern-day jump shot. In 1942-43, he also helped lead the program to its lone national championship. You can see that statue inside the concourse of the Arena-Auditorium. There is even a second effigy in Laramie's Washington Park.
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Who would that Wyoming football player be?
If we are talking about accomplishments at UW -- and UW alone -- you have to think about names such as Marcus Harris.
At the conclusion of the 1996 season, Harris was named the winner of the Fred Biletnikoff Trophy, basically the Heisman for college receivers. His 4,518 receiving yards is still a school record and ranks him fifth all-time in NCAA history.
Harris caught just one pass for 14 yards as a true freshman. Replacing the school's former receiving king, Ryan Yarborough, Harris did all his damage in just three seasons. Truly remarkable.
Some other names that come to mind are Jim Kiick, Jay Novacek, Galand Thaxton and Mitch Donahue. There are plenty of others who would deserve a closer look, too.
How about Josh Allen? His impact has certainly been felt both financially and on the PR side of things. He had a special career in Laramie and is no doubt one of the best.
Down at OSU, Sanders was a no-brainer. The only stunner when erecting that bad boy is, what the heck took so long? The former Heisman winner left school for the NFL after the 1988 season. More specifically after blowing past Wyoming to the tune of 222 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a 62-14 Holiday Bowl rout.
There just isn't a UW player on that level. Harris would be it, in my opinion. He was truly the best at his craft. A statue though? That might be a stretch.
Might I suggest a "Ring of Fame" inside War Memorial Stadium? That's a pretty typical practice at most schools. It would be nice to see some of those names -- certainly all the ones listed -- on the façade of the west side.
If there aren't any players who are ultimately deserving of an honor like that, I'd like to throw out another option -- Cowboy Joe.
Yes, the Shetland pony that runs around the end zone after UW touchdowns.
In all of my college football travels throughout my life, one of the coolest things I have seen at a stadium is at the north end of Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. It's a cemetery for Texas A&M's mascots, "Reveille," complete with a scoreboard so they can always see the score.
Now, A&M is loaded with awesome traditions from the college ring to the 12th Man to Yell practice to the military band. If you haven't been to Aggieland, do yourself a favor.
The first Reveille was introduced in 1931. It didn't start with a pure-bred Rough Collie dog, but it has been that breed since 1944. Every version of the Aggies' mascot is buried right outside the gates. Each one received a full military funeral, including a 21-gun salute.
You can read all about the First Lady of Aggieland right HERE.
Wyoming is currently on its fifth version of Cowboy Joe. The first came to UW via Cheyenne's Farthing Family back in 1950.
There's a great story behind the original. The story goes that Joe's mother died and the Farthing Family said they would donate the orphaned colt to the school if he made it through the snowy winter night by himself. Why? Because it shows true resiliency and embodies the spirit of the west.
How cool would it be to have a statue of Joe and his handlers in the south end zone with the gravestones of the ones who came before him? Nothing wrong with celebrating your traditions.
Would love to hear your opinions on this. Does a player deserve this honor? A coach?