UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 36
LARAMIE -- During this summer series we are going to countdown the Top 50 football players in Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.
The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.
This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining me is Robert Gagliardi, Jared Newland, Ryan Thorburn and Kevin McKinney. We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is more fair.
Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter page @7220sports.
Offensive tackle, 1965-67, Peoria, Illinois
Here's why: You think that 20-13 loss to LSU in the 1968 Sugar Bowl bothered Mike LaHood?
When he was elected into his hometown Hall of Fame in 1987, it's the first thing he brought up.
"We were on LSU's 5-yard line when the game ended," LaHood told The Greater Peoria Hall of Fame. "We had our 20th reunion of that team recently, about 30 players showed up and we went over a play-by-play of that game."
LaHood, a senior that season, blocked for fellow Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame members Jim Kiick, Gene Huey and Paul Toscano throughout his career and during that heartbreaker in muddy New Orleans. The Cowboys went 10-0 during the regular season and closed out the campaign with four straight road wins over Arizona State, San Jose State, New Mexico and UTEP. No. 6 Wyoming featured one of the best defenses and running games in the nation under then-head coach Lloyd Eaton.
LaHood, who was described as "hard-nosed," was a two-time All-Conference selection and earned All-American honors as a senior. Imagine today if a guy earned those kind of accolades and played multiple positions. LaHood did just that, lining up on both lines of scrimmage. He also played tight end and guard. LaHood was the lone offensive linemen on that 1967 squad to start every game.
How's that for "hard-nosed?"
Safe to say LaHood played in a glory era for the UW program. During his career in Laramie, Wyoming featured a 26-6 record and claimed a Sun Bowl championship with a 28-20 victory over Florida State. The Cowboys also won back-to-back conference titles in the process.
LaHood was selected in the second round of the 1968 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He also played for the Cardinals and Vancouver of the Canadian Football League.
McKinney's take: While he was a highly-successful offensive tackle during a highly successful “golden” era of Cowboy football, Mike LaHood was a tremendously versatile football player.
He became one of Wyoming’s most successful offensive linemen ever, but at various times during his career (1965-67) he played defensive tackle, offensive guard and tight end as well.
He was most effective and comfortable at O-tackle, in the terminology of the day, ‘tight tackle.'
He was a perennial All-Western Athletic Conference performer. During his three seasons as a starter, the Cowboys posted a 26-6 overall record and won two league titles while posting a pair of 10-1 season records. In his senior year the Pokes played in the Sugar Bowl against LSU.
LaHood was an outstanding athlete, and his quickness and toughness made him one of the most feared offensive linemen in the league. The Cowboy “Flip-Flop” offense required every offensive lineman to “pull” on sweeps, and LaHood was particularly effective in that role.
I can still see No. 76 coming around the corner hunting some unfortunate linebacker or defensive back. Following his Cowboy career, LaHood went on to play in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams and St. Louis Cardinals.
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (NR), Robert Gagliardi (NR), Jared Newland (22), Ryan Thorburn (NR), Kevin McKinney (6)
Cody Tucker: Brand Manger and creator of 7220sports.com. Tucker has covered the Cowboys since June of 2019, but was a season-ticket holder for nearly three decades. Tucker has also covered Michigan State University Athletics for the Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins during his 10-year journalism career
Robert Gagliardi: Former sports editor and University of Wyoming beat reporter for WyoSports. Gagliardi covered the Cowboys from more than a quarter century. He also covered the team at the Branding Iron, the UW student newspaper. Gagliardi also co-authored the book: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming
Jared Newland: Currently the local sales manager for Townsquare Media SE Wyoming, Newland worked with and around Wyoming athletics for 20 years, starting as a student athletic trainer in 1990. Newland has also served in the Sports Information Office, the Cowboy Joe Club, Wyoming Sports Properties and was a UW Athletics Hall of Fame Committee Member from 2002-14.
Ryan Thorburn: Currently covering the Oregon Ducks for The Register-Guard, Thorburn also covered the Cowboys in the early and mid-90's for the Branding Iron and Casper Star Tribune. He has also written four books about Wyoming Athletics: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming, Cowboy Up: Kenny Sailors, The Jump Shot and Wyoming’s Championship Basketball History, Lost Cowboys: The Story of Bud Daniel and Wyoming Baseball and Black 14: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Wyoming Football
Kevin McKinney: Currently the senior associate athletics director for external affairs at the University of Wyoming, McKinney also serves as the radio color commentator for Wyoming football and men's basketball. McKinney has been involved with UW Athletics in some capacity since 1972. He was also inducted into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015.