Which Wyoming Cowboy wore it best? No. 43
CHEYENNE -- Do you ever see a number on a Wyoming football
jersey and think of all the great players to wear it? Yeah, me too. In this
daily series, I’ll give you my take on which Pokes’ football player was the
best ever to don each number. The criteria are simple: How did he perform at
UW? What kind of impact did he have on the program?
No. 43 – Cory Talich
Linebacker, 1990-93, Pine Bluffs, Wyo.
Résumé in Laramie
Cory Talich tallied 167 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, two sacks and three interceptions during his career as a Wyoming Cowboy linebacker. All but five of those tackled were made in just three seasons. In 1991, then a sophomore, Talich was named second-team All-Western Athletic Conference. Statistically, that was his best season, racking up 64 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception. Talich helped lead the Cowboys to the 1993 Copper Bowl.
Pine Bluffs has been good to University of Wyoming athletics.
Guys like Tom Waring, Hunter Thompson and Haize Fornstrom are just a few mentions.
Arguably the best future Cowboys to come out of the 1,129-person border town are the sons of Barbara and Dennis Talich, Cory and Jim.
Wyoming fans love the story of the “local guy done good.”
Especially when the local guy plays for the Pokes.
Cory Talich came first. He joined the Wyoming football team in 1990, and despite a pair of knee injuries that hampered him in his first and third season in Laramie, Talich -- the 6-foot, 2-inch, 184-pound Pine Bluffs Hornet -- was one of the best linebackers to ever wear the brown and gold.
He led the team in tackles during his sophomore campaign
with 64, 45 of those came in the solo variety. He also finished the 1991 season
with 11 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception. That earned
Talich second-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors.
Talich and the Cowboys had their best season in 1993.
Wyoming marched off a seven-game winning streak after dropping the opener to Oregon State. The Pokes snapped a two-game skid, which included a 41-21 home loss to rival Colorado State, when they went into San Diego and knocked off the Marshall Faulk-led San Diego Aztecs in the season finale.
The win dropped the Aztecs from bowl contention and landed
head coach Al Luginbill in the unemployment line. That was the last collegiate
game Faulk would play at Jack Murphy Stadium.
Wyoming was heading to the Copper Bowl.
Talich finished the season with 57 tackles (36 solo, 21
assisted), three tackles for loss, a sack, five pass breakups and an
The Cowboys would fall to the upstart Kansas State Wildcats,
52-17, on that late December day in Phoenix. Talich’s career was over.
But Barbara and Dennis were about to deliver again.
Younger brother, Jim Talich, joined the Pokes in 1994. All he did was register 440 career tackles, second all-time in Wyoming history only behind Galand Thaxton’s 467.
We will get more in depth with Jim soon.
Another one of the great things about local kids is their
knowledge of the history of the Cowboys. Their pride in the university and its
Cory showed that off in 2005 when he sent a letter to the
editor of the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student-run newspaper. A column entitled “Wyoming
match-up raises question: why?” drew the ire of roughly 2,700 UW fans and
The jest of the column was that UCLA was too good to be
playing Wyoming in the Las Vegas Bowl that season.
Talich took exception. Here’s a few snippets from this
“Is the smog affecting you? Maybe a trip to Wyoming is
exactly what you need. Fresh air, wildlife, down to earth people and views as
far as the eyes can see …”
“I was taught to think before I opened my mouth. Maybe you
should thank the Vegas Bowl Committee for allowing the Bruins to go to a bowl
game. Maybe you should have played Notre Dame; it would have been the match-up
of the most storied 6-5 teams in the nation …”
“Good luck, Bruins, I wish you well. Remember March 14, 1987?
It was the last time UCLA was heavily favored over a Wyoming team. Those
country bumpkins showed the ‘big city folk’ that you should never take Wyoming
lightly! 78-68 Pokes …”
Of course, Wyoming – a two touchdown underdog -- went on to
beat the Bruins in the Las Vegas Bowl, 24-21.
And in the last sentence of his letter, Talich was referring to the 1987 NCAA Tournament in which Fennis Dembo and the Cowboys took down Reggie Miller and UCLA, 78-68.
Mark Smolinski (1958-60) didn’t lose often during his time in Laramie.
The fullback helped lead the Pokes to a 27-6 record. Wyoming
owned CSU, sweeping the three games with the Rams by a combined score of 76-14.
The Roger City, Mich., product helped lead the Cowboys to a
14-6 win over Hardin-Simmons (Abilene, Texas) in the 1958 Sun Bowl in El Paso.
Wyoming went 8-2 during Smolinski’s senior season. He earned All-Mountain State
Athletic Conference honors while the Cowboys were left out of the bowl picture.
Smolinski played for the Baltimore Colts (1961-62) and the
New York Jets (1963-68). He has a ring to show for it, too. Remember Joe Namath’s
Super Bowl III guarantee? Yep, Smolinski was on that Jets squad who upended
Johnny Unitas and his former team, 16-7.
We must give another shout out to linebacker/ defensive end John Flora (2003-05).
The 6-foot, 4-inch, 278-pound monster was a disruptive force
in the offensive backfield. His 23.5 tackles for loss are still seventh
all-time in Wyoming football history.
Injuries hampered Flora’s career in Laramie or his numbers
could’ve been scary good.
Who else wore No. 43
Mick Carter (LB), Rod Evanich (RB), Chris Mullen (DB), Scott Gibson (HB), Albert Camou (LB), Frank Gates (CB), Chad Whitley (LB), Lawrence Alexander (LB), Mark Oliver (LB), Devyn Harris (LB), Ben Wisdorf (LB), Robbie Wright (FB)
- All available rosters and photos courtesy of the University of Wyoming. If we missed one, please email Cody@7220sports.com.