Mike Fanoga will be serving his second season on Dave Christensen's staff at Wyoming in 2010. He will once again coach the Cowboy outside linebackers. Fanoga will be coaching in his 24th season at the college level in 2010. He began his college-coaching career in 1987 at his alma mater, the University of Texas-El Paso. Prior to coming to Wyoming, he was the associate head coach and defensive line coach at New Mexico State for four seasons from 2005-08.
Wyoming's win in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl marked the 12th time in Fanoga's previous 23 seasons of college coaching that he helped lead a team to postseason play.
In his first year coaching the outside linebackers at Wyoming, Fanoga coached linebacker Weston Johnson, who went on to sign a free-agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. Johnson recorded 106 tackles his senior season, and led the team in tackles for losses (13.0) and interceptions (three).
At New Mexico State, Fanoga helped coach an Aggie defense that ranked No. 1 in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and No. 3 in the nation in pass defense in 2008, allowing only 159.4 yards per game. New Mexico State also ranked No. 5 in the WAC in total defense, giving up 379.6 yards per game. The NMSU defense gave up an average of only 20.7 first downs per game -- third best in the conference.
He coached under head coach Hal Mumme at New Mexico State. Fanoga has a long coaching relationship with Mumme, also coaching with him at the University of Kentucky, Valdosta State (Ga.) and Iowa Wesleyan. While at Kentucky, Fanoga was part of a coaching staff that helped guide the Wildcats to back-to-back bowl appearances in 1998 and `99. Kentucky played in the Outback Bowl following the 1998 season and the Music City Bowl at the conclusion of the 1999 campaign.
Between Fanoga's coaching stops at Kentucky (1997-1999) and New Mexico State (2005-08), he coached the defensive line for five seasons at Western Kentucky (2000-04). Over that five-year span, the Hilltoppers earned their way into the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs each of those five seasons, and captured the 2002 National Championship with a 12-3 record. WKU defeated McNeese State, 34-14, in the I-AA National Championship game. In 2002, the Hilltopper defenders ranked No. 11 in the nation in scoring defense (allowing only 16.4 points per game to opponents), were No. 23 in total defense (279.2 yards per game) and were No. 27 in rushing defense (118.9 yards per game).
The previous season of 2001, Western was 8-4 and finished the season ranked No. 10 in the final USA Today/ESPN Division I-AA poll. Once again the defense was outstanding, ranking No. 2 in the nation in both total defense (233.2 ypg) and scoring defense (11.1 ppg), while ranking No. 4 in pass defense (137.3 ypg) and No. 9 in rushing defense (95.9 ypg).
The 2000 Western Kentucky squad posted an 11-2 record and ended the season ranked No. 5 in the national polls. That 2000 team led the nation in both scoring defense (allowing opponents only 11.6 points per game) and turnover margin (+2.73 turnover margin per game), and WKU also ranked No. 9 in the nation in rushing defense (100.1 yards per game) and was No. 26 in total defense (290.8 yards per game). WKU compiled a 49-16 (.754) record in Fanoga's five seasons as an assistant coach.
In Fanoga's other two seasons at Western Kentucky, the Hilltoppers ranked No. 7 in the final 2003 Sports Network/CSTV poll of I-AA teams and was ranked No. 11 in both final national polls in 2004. His 2003 defense ranked No. 6 in total defense (283.7 ypg), was No. 8 in pass defense (151.5 ypg) and ranked No. 14 in scoring defense (16.9 ppg). The Hilltoppers recorded 165 sacks over those five years, including three of the top six single-season sack totals in school history and the single-season record of 41 sacks in 2002.
At Valdosta State from 1994-96, Fanoga served as the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. His stay with the Blazers was highlighted by a 1996 season that saw Valdosta State reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Playoffs after posting a 10-2 record and capturing the Gulf South Conference Championship. In 1994, the Blazers posted an 11-2 mark and were ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation, led by a defensive unit that ranked No. 2 in the country in scoring defense.
He coached the defensive line and special teams at Iowa Wesleyan from 1990-93. His 1991 Iowa Wesleyan squad earned a berth in the NAIA Division I Playoffs, and finished the season ranked No. 7 in the country in the final NAIA rankings.
Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at Livingston University in Livingston, Ala., from 1989-90, and coached at his alma mater UTEP from 1987-88.
In addition to his over 20 years of college coaching experience, on two different occasions Fanoga participated in the National Football League (NFL) Fellowship program. He served fellowships with the Miami Dolphins in 1998 and Philadelphia Eagles in 2002. The program provides college coaches the opportunity to work with NFL organizations during the offseason to gain insight into the operations of NFL teams and NFL coaching staffs. Fanoga completed his bachelor's degree in social work at UTEP in 1986. He later earned his master's degree in physical education in 1988, also from UTEP. Fanoga lettered each of his two seasons as a linebacker at UTEP in 1985 and `86, and played against the Wyoming Cowboys twice. In 1985, Fanoga faced the Pokes in the final regular-season game of the season in Melbourne, Australia. The 1986 season saw Fanoga and his Miners travel to Laramie, Wyo. Prior to attending Texas-El Paso, he spent his first two years of college at Snow Community College in Ephraim, Utah, where he played linebacker for the 1983 and `84 seasons.
A native of American Samoa, Fanoga brings a strong background in recruiting Polynesian student-athletes. He and his wife, Soana, have one daughter, Sydney.
Fanoga will recruit the states of Arizona, Hawaii, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.