#120CowboyTough, 24 Days to Kickoff: UW Takes A Chance, Creates A Legend

Aug. 8, 2013

LARAMIE, Wyo. -


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UW Takes A Chance, Creates A Legend

The name of Paul Roach is synonymous with UW football success, although the former head coach's path to the helm was unusual for many reasons.

Already the athletic director for the department, Roach was familiar with football programs after serving as an assistant coach from 1962-69 and as an NFL assistant coach from 1972-1980. He had resigned himself to the fact that he was done coaching, so in 1985, Roach took over duties as the executive director of the Cowboy Joe Club, the fundraising arm of the Wyoming Athletics department. Two years afterward, he was named the school's athletic director.

That's why it was a surprise to many people when in 1987, at age 59, Roach took the helm of the football program. It was a move with some risk - he had never been a head coach before. The doubters about this hire were evident from the start.

That's until they watched Roach's teams in action. His first game was Sept. 5, 1987, versus rival Air Force, when 28,000 fans watched the Cowboys dismantle the Falcons, 27-13. The winning ways continued in 1987 and 1988, when UW went a combined 21-5 and won two WAC titles with a perfect 16-0 mark, thanks to the contributions of players like linebacker Mike Schenbeck, quarterback Randy Welniak, defensive tackles Galand Thaxton, Jeff Knapton and Pat Rabold and receiver Anthony Sargent.

Roach coached for four seasons from 1987-1990, compiling a 35-15 (.700) record to produce the school's all-time best winning percentage. He guided the Pokes to three bowl games in four seasons.

About the #120CowboyTough Countdown

The 2013 season will mark the 120th anniversary of Wyoming Cowboy Football. To commemorate that anniversary, we will be counting down some of the great memories and moments from Wyoming football history over the next eight weeks leading up to the Cowboys' season opener at Nebraska on Aug. 31.

The 2013 "Countdown to Kickoff" will take Wyoming fans through Cowboy Football history chronologically. The first week will highlight some of the memorable moments from the period from the first season in 1893 through the 1940s. Then each successive week, the countdown will recall great moments from the 1950s, `60s, 70s, 80, 90s, 2000s and the current decade.

Our countdown will only touch on some of the greatest moments, but we encourage you, the Wyoming fans, to share your favorite memories through the official University of Wyoming Athletics Twitter (@wyoathletics) and Facebook pages (Wyoming Cowboys). Fans are encouraged to use #120CowboyTough when sharing their memories.

Enjoy the countdown, and we look forward to seeing you in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7 for the home opener versus the Idaho Vandals.