The future looks bright for Wyoming Football as the Cowboys prepare to play for the 2016 Mountain West Conference Championship on Saturday, and that future got a lot brighter on Friday as University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman announced that Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl has been signed to a new seven-year contract that will run through the end of the 2023 season.
Currently completing his third year as head coach of the Cowboys, Bohl led UW to the 2016 Mountain West Conference Mountain Division title and a spot in the 2016 Mountain West Championship Game. Bohl was named the 2016 Mountain West Coach of the Year in voting by MW head football coaches and media members covering the conference.
“When I hired Craig (Bohl) three years ago, I believed he was the best coach to turn around our football program,” said Burman. “He has certainly delivered and the turnaround is evident in the performance of our team this season.
“What excites me most about this new contract is the opportunity to develop stability in our football program. Our fans, our student-athletes, donors and our state legislators will now get an opportunity to watch this football program continue to grow. I believe Coach Bohl is going to be the head football coach at the University of Wyoming for the rest of his career.”
“This is a mutual agreement to continue to move Cowboy Football forward,” said Bohl. “I can’t thank Tom Burman, Governor Mead, President Nichols and numerous members of the state legislature enough for the support they’ve provided our football program to help us be successful. And to our donors, fans and the UW student body, I want to thank them for the enthusiastic manner in which they have embraced our team and our coaches.
“Many individuals were involved in helping make the on-going Cowboy Joe Club matching funds available -- funds which have had a profound effect on the performance of our team this year.
“It is exciting to see the further commitment from the state, the University, UW Foundation and Cowboy Joe Club and donors like the McMurrys and Rochelles to make the Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center a reality.
All of these elements will provide the resources necessary to give Cowboy Football the opportunity for long-term success, which the people of Wyoming deserve.”
Bohl’s original contract had two years remaining on its term. The new contract extends that by five more years through 2023. The starting base salary for the first year of the contract will pay Bohl $1.4 million. The new contract includes annual increases along with incentive elements, and will place Bohl near the top of Mountain West head football coaches in annual compensation.
Also included in the new contract is a significant buyout. If Bohl would take another job, a buyout would have to be paid to the University of Wyoming. That buyout begins at $6.5 million the first year of his new contract and declines annually.
Bohl is currently completing his 36th year in college coaching and his 14th season as a head coach. He led North Dakota State to three consecutive FCS National Championships in 2011, ‘12 and ‘13. In 2012 and ‘13, Bohl received both The Sports Network Eddie Robinson FCS National Coach of the Year Award and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) FCS National Coach of the Year Award. He became the first coach in the first 27 years of the Eddie Robinson Award to win it in consecutive seasons. In 2013, he also received the Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year Award, which is presented in partnership with the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. His other National Coach of the Year honor came in 2006, when he was recognized by the Football Gazette as the FCS National Coach of the Year.
As an assistant coach at his alma mater, Nebraska, he was part of two National Championship teams in 1995 and ‘97 as the Huskers’ linebacker coach.
Bohl has compiled an overall head-coaching record of 118-54 (.686) at the collegiate level, including an 8-4 overall record this season at Wyoming. His 2016 Cowboy squad has defeated two Top 25 ranked teams this season, marking the first time that had been accomplished since 1999. His 2016 squad is the first Wyoming football team to appear in a conference title game since the 1996 Cowboys earned a spot in the Western Athletic Conference Championship Game. This year’s team has the opportunity to be the first Cowboy team to win a conference title since 1993.