Mike Van Diest returned to Wyoming, his alma mater, in 1991. A three-year football letterwinner for the Cowboys, Van Diest will be entering his 12th season coaching at Wyoming and second as assistant head coach. He has developed four NFL defensive linemen: John Burrough (Atlanta Falcons), Tyrone Williams (Chicago Bears), Stu Hanson (Seattle Seahawks) and Jeff Leonard (Cincinnati Bengals). Two other players he coached at UW played in the NFL's European League in 1998 -- Mark Brook, who played for the European League Champion Rhein Fire; and Joe Cummings, who was placed with the Barcelona Dragons by his NFL team the Buffalo Bills. Van Diest also coached recent UW All-WAC defensive end Kurt Whitehead. Van Diest has coached on two different Wyoming WAC Championship teams (1976 and 1993), and one Pacific Division WAC Title team (1996). The Cowboy defensive ends have been among the WAC leaders in quarterback sacks under his direction. The Cowboys led the WAC in sacks in 1993, '95, '96 and '97. In 1993, the two starting ends Brent Schieffer and Kurt Whitehed combined for 19 quarterback sacks to lead the WAC. In 1995, the two starting ends, Mark Brook and Joe Cummings, ranked in the top four in the WAC, combining for 15 quarterback sacks and 24 tackles for losses. In 1996, the two starting ends, Stuart Hanson and Jeff Leonard combined for 13 quarterback sacks and 16 tackles for losses.
In 1997, Van Diest helped guide the Pokes to a No. 2 national ranking in quarterback sacks, a No. 6 ranking in pass defense, a No. 17 ranking in scoring defense and a No. 23 ranking in total defense.
Van Diest returned to his alma mater after stints at Montana, Massachusetts and Northwestern. Van Diest graduated from UW in 1975. The following two years (1976-77), he served as a graduate assistant. In 1978, he was elevated to a part-time assistant before being named assistant defensive line and strength coach in 1979 for coach Bill Lewis. The East Helena, Mont., native moved to the University of Montana in 1980, and spent six years as the Grizzliesi defensive line coach and strength/conditioning coordinator. In his final three years at Montana, he served as recruiting coordinator. Van Diest went to the University of Massachusetts in 1986, where he was defensive line coach before moving on to the Big Ten and Northwestern University as defensive line coach (1987-90). Van Diest was born Oct. 24, 1952, in Helena, Mont. He and his wife Heidi have two sons, Shane and Clay.