Memorial Service for Paul Roach to be Held Thursday in Laramie
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- A memorial service for former Wyoming Head Football Coach and Athletics Director Paul Roach will be held on Thursday, Oct. 19 at St. Paul’s Newman Center at 1800 E. Grand Avenue in Laramie, Wyo. The service will begin at 10 a.m., Mountain Time.
A reception in the Wildcatter Stadium Club and Suites at Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium will follow the memorial service. The family has asked that any memorial gifts be made to the University of Wyoming’s Cowboy Joe Club at https://www.cowboyjoeclub.com or by contacting the Cowboy Joe Club at (307) 766-6242.
Roach passed away in Pullman, Wash., on Sept. 3, 2023, at the age of 95 with family members at his side.
The only man in University of Wyoming history to serve as athletics director and head football coach simultaneously, Roach served as the school’s AD from 1986 through 1996, and head football coach from 1987-90. Roach soon became one of the biggest stories in college football, directing the Pokes to a 21-5 record in his first two seasons, winning back-to-back Western Athletic Conference Championships in 1987 and ‘88 and earning two Holiday Bowl game appearances.
“Coach Roach was so much more than a damn good coach,” said UW Athletics Director Tom Burman. “He was caring, smart, disciplined, funny, but most of all a great communicator. He knew when and how to say things -- a skill few have -- and he did it without an ego. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marge and his entire family. Wyoming will be forever grateful to him. We will all miss Coach Roach.”
As athletics director, he guided Wyoming’s total athletic program through tremendous success. His vision led to construction of the Rochelle Athletics Center and in 1993 he established the University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame, to which he was later inducted in the Class of 1999.
As head football coach, he took over a program that was 27-32 in the five previous seasons. Roach’s 1987 and ‘88 teams were undefeated in league play both years. He was named the league’s Coach of the Year following each of those seasons. He was named the Kodak Region V Coach of the Year in 1987, and was a two-time finalist for National Coach the Year.
During his four-year tenure, he guided the Cowboys to a 35-15-0 record and three bowl-game appearances, adding a bid to the 1990 Copper Bowl in his final season as head coach. Upon retiring from his head-coaching position after the 1990 season, he selected his former offensive coordinator, Joe Tiller, as his successor.
Roach’s name will forever be synonymous with Wyoming’s rich athletic tradition. During his first stint as an assistant coach with UW from 1962 through 1970, he was the Cowboy offensive coordinator and backfield coach when Wyoming: earned three consecutive WAC Championships in 1966, ‘67 and ‘68; won the 1966 Sun Bowl; and appeared in the 1968 Sugar Bowl.
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He left Wyoming following the 1969 season but returned to UW in November of 1985 to become the Executive Director of the Cowboy Joe Club after a very successful coaching career in the NFL. He was appointed University of Wyoming Athletics Director on Sept. 1, 1986.
When Roach left Wyoming in 1969, he coached two years (1970-71) at the University of Wisconsin, then accepted a position with the Oakland Raiders of the NFL in 1972. As a member of John Madden’s staff from 1972-74, Roach helped lead the Raiders to three Western Division titles and one AFC Championship game appearance.
Following a two-year stint (1975-76) as offensive coordinator for Bart Starr with the Green Bay Packers, Roach was named backfield coach with the Denver Broncos and served in that capacity from 1977 through 1980.
During his time in Denver the Broncos played in Super Bowl XII, which was their first Super Bowl appearance at the conclusion of the 1977 season.
Following the 1980 season, Roach entered private business, and for five years was the co-owner and President of Western Pro Sports, Inc., and Western Financial Services, an organization which served as a negotiating agency for professional football players.
In November of 1985, Roach decided to make a career move, moving back to Wyoming, the state he learned to love two decades earlier, to join the Cowboy Joe Club as its executive director. After one year with the Cowboy Joe Club, he was named UW’s Athletics Director.
Roach retired from UW in 1996.