Wyoming’s Un-Sweet 16: No. 1 LaVell Edwards vs. No. 9 Karl Benson
LARAMIE -- There's a few things that can land you on a list like this one.
Beating Wyoming with regularity certainly makes you a thorn in the side. Making stupid decisions will also draw the ire of fans. Being an all-round jerk will do it, too.
This is our version of the Un-Sweet 16, pitting the biggest villains in Wyoming Cowboys football history against one another and eventually crowning the worst of the worst. This won't be our opinion, it's yours. You can vote for who will advance to the next round by clicking on the box at the bottom of this page.
We did our best to round up the ultimate enemy of the Cowboy State. We reached out to people in the know, from different decades of UW football. Don't be surprised to see plenty of rivals on this list.
Here's today's Not So Elite Eight matchup:
No. 1 LaVell Edwards vs. No. 9 Karl Benson
Let's start with the top-seed, the late LaVell Edwards. Why is he ranked so high on this list?
Let us count the ways.
Prior to arriving in Provo as the head coach in 1972, BYU was not what you would call a national brand. Actually, a more accurate description would be the Cougars were a doormat. The program won eight games or more just twice in its first 47 years of existence. Twenty-seven times BYU finished with a record below .500.
That all changed when Edwards took over. Utilizing a rare pass-first attack, by 1984 the Cougars were crowned National Champions. Edwards racked up 257 career wins on the sidelines in Provo.
Nineteen of those victories came against the Cowboys. Edwards finished with a 19-6 record against Wyoming, including ousting the Pokes 28-25 in overtime in the 1996 WAC Championship game in Las Vegas.
Bringing back some bad memories yet?
One of those UW victories came in 1981. After the 33-20 win inside a snowy War Memorial Stadium, Edwards vaulted himself right to the top of this list in just 13 words.
"I'd rather lose and live in Provo than win and live in Laramie," Edwards said.
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Former Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson snuck onto this list for a number of reasons, one being the way he fought tooth and nail to get the Cougars into an Alliance Bowl after a 28-25 overtime victory over the Cowboys in the 1996 Championship game in Sin City.
Did BYU deserve a shot at a major bowl? Sure.
That team finished the regular season 13-1 and ranked fifth in the AP and Coaches Poll. Their lone loss came in Week 3 in Seattle. That was a 29-17 setback against No. 14 Washington.
While Benson was busy selling the Cougars to anyone who would listen, he didn't beat the drum for a 10-2 Wyoming team that landed at No. 22 in the final polls.
Remember, it was the Cougars who had to take UW into OT in Vegas.
BYU eventually played Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, eking out a 19-15 victory over the Wildcats. Wyoming went home and watched an 8-4 Utah team get blasted 38-10 by Wisconsin in the Copper Bowl.
Aside from that, you may recall when Benson expanded the WAC to a whopping 16 teams in '96. TCU, SMU, Rice, Houston ... come on down. Let's throw in UNLV, Tulsa and San Jose State, too.
With his new super-league came quadrants. In other words, UW would not play traditional rivals like BYU and Utah on an annual basis.
That, along with fewer NCAA Tournament bids, led to a 1998 meeting at Denver International Airport, attended by the presidents of BYU, Utah, Colorado State, Air Force and UW.
The Mountain West was born.