Reaction, thoughts to Christensen suspension and fine

By now you know that Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman suspended football coach Dave Christensen Monday for one week and fined him $50,000 for his postgame, profanity-laced tirade with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun after the Cowboys’ 28-27 home loss on Oct. 13.

Christensen won’t be allowed any access to the team or facilities this week, and Burman said he will be reinstated Sunday morning. Christensen will be paid while he’s suspended, but Burman said a week’s pay for Christensen is “significantly less” than the fine he levied.

The discipline was not only a result of Christensen’s reaction to Calhoun after the game, but also from the YouTube video that surfaced last last week that captured the outburst. Burman said he first saw the video last Monday — two days after the game.

Why didn’t Burman suspend Christensen sooner is what many fans are asking? Burman said he didn’t want to make a “hasty” decision and wanted to consult with school president Tom Buchanan and UW’s legal advisers to see if what he had in mind would fly. Burman said Christensen’s actions were a suspendable offense as soon as he saw the video.

Burman also said he didn’t have his mind made up about the suspension and fine before last Saturday’s 42-14 loss at Fresno State, but knew something more needed to be done other than apologies from Christensen the Sunday and Monday after the Air Force game.

“In my mind it doesn’t matter which game you suspend him for if you choose to make that decision,” Burman said.

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Shyatt still the favorite

Another day, another “hurry up and wait” to hear who the next Wyoming men’s basketball coach will be.

It looked like it would be Larry Shyatt for much of Wednesday, but he didn’t get off an airplane with UW’s in-house search committee late in the night.

But a source close to the situation told me this morning that Shyatt is still the favorite, and a decision could come as early as today. Other local and national reports out there confirm this.

Then again, it might not.

UW’s search committee was in Atlanta Wednesday interviewing candidates. Along with Shyatt, a source told me it also interviewed Kansas assistant Joe Dooley, Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor and College of Southern Idaho coach Steve Gosar.

Dooley was an assistant at UW for one season. Gosar is a Wyoming native, a former UW player and graduate assistant. Taylor has family in Wyoming and used to coach at Montana.

And we all know by know Shyatt coached UW in 1997-98 and left for Clemson after one season.

UW athletics director Tom Burman didn’t come back to Laramie with the search committee, which includes President Tom Buchanan, associate athletics directors Kevin McKinney and Matt Whisenant, women’s basketball coach Joe Legerski and former UW and NBA player Reggie Slater. (Slater lives in the Houston area and also wasn’t on the return trip to Laramie last night).

McKinney said Burman planned to attend Final Four festivites in Houston this weekend. Perhaps he needed a night to sleep on who he should hire as the next coach. Is it indeciviness, uncertainty or did something unexpectdly happen during the interviews that has made Burman think more about this decision?

Perhaps its a little of everything. One thing is certain, Burman’s not making a hasty decision which at this point is wise.

Burman talks about coaching search

Here are some highlights of Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman’s teleconference Tuesday following the firing of men’s basketball coach Heath Schroyer on Monday.

Burman said prior to the season Schroyer asked for a performance evaluation at the midway point of the conference season. Last Saturday’s 59-56 loss at home to Colorado State marked the first game of the second half of league play. UW is currently 8-15 overall, 1-8 in the Mountain West and has lost six straight.

“It just became clear that changes were imminent and I was concrend about the negatively surrounding the program,” Burman said. “The distractions that were occuring for coaches and kids. I just felt like rather than walking around in egg shells for the next month, if this thing was going to happen we might as well deal with it right now.”

After a 69-62 home loss to No. 7 BYU last Wednesday, Schroyer mentioned a couple of times about the negativity surrounding the program. Maybe that was based on his talk with Burman about the program, and a precursor of things to come? The BYU game marked the end of the first half of the conference season. Here is the blog post I had after with Schroyer’s comments after the game:

Burman said he will talk with UW President Tom Buchanan in the next 24 to 36 hours to make sure they are on the same page as far as what they will look for in a new coach. Burman also said UW will hire a search firm to do much of leg work in screening potential candidates, and will also form an small, in-house interview committee.

Here’s what Burman had to say on a few other items:

On what kind of candidates UW will look at:

“We want to take a hard look at seated Division I head coaches and highly successful assistant coaches at high-level programs. We want to look at coaches who are not coaching today. I’m a believer that there are situations where a coach may have been let go by another school and two or three years later he’s prepared to be a head coach today. We don’t want to exclude everybody. But I would say that would be a priority focus.”

A source told me this morning that former Laramie County Community College men’s basketball coach Rodell Davis, who is currently an assistant at Providence, is interested in the job, or even to be on the new coaching staff.

On the financial package for the new coach:

“We’re going to be significantly more aggressive financially than we were with coach Schroyer. We’re in a much better financial position today than we were four years ago. When you look at the top half of this league, you’ve got a few coaches making above and or near $1 million. That isn’t going to happen at the University of Wyoming.”

Schroyer made between $350,000-$400,000 in his total compensation package annually.

Will interim coach Fred Langley will be a candidate?

“I haven’t talked to Fred about whether he’s going to apply for the position. The situation is this, anyone can be a candidate for the job. If he chooses to apply for the job, it’s his choice. Right now Fred is 100 percent focused on those young men and trying to get them where they can do the best they can over the remainding part of the season.”

Not exactly a glowing endorsement, is it?

On if this hire needs to be a “home run” to re-energize the fan base:

“In the short term the answer might be yes, but we’re not going to allow ourselves to think short term. That’s where you get yourself in trouble. We’ve got to prodcuce a good product that people are excited to see and they’ll come back. We’re not hiring to make a press conference.”

On whether a coach will be named before the end of the season:

“It would be highly, highly unlikely.”

For more on this, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang

Reaction to BYU going independent

Here is some reaction Tuesday from BYU’s announcement it will go independent in football and to the West Coast Conference in other sports:

University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan

““It’s BYU’s decision to leave the MWC, but I know that UW and the rest of the Mountain West Conference will be moving forward, continuing to build our reputation in all of our sports and aggressively seeking opportunities for our student-athletes to compete at the highest collegiate level.  Rivalries energize crowds, raise the level of competition and provide fans with exciting moments in Cowboy and Cowgirl athletics.  I’m confident that level of excitement will continue to be the hallmark of the MWC.”

UW Athletics Director Tom Burman

“BYU was a long-time rival, but we have to look forward. We can’t lose sight of the fact that this league has much to be proud of. We look forward to working with the other members of our conference and to continue building for the future. We’re proud of what we have accomplished across all of our sports, and we are proud of the accomplishments of our Mountain West rivals, which we’re pleased to say now include Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada.”

BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall to The Salt Lake Tribune

“I support our administration’s decision. I think there will be a chance for tremendous exposure for our program and more details will come [Wednesday], I am certain. As far as I am concerned, I am supportive of it and anxious to coach the team in a new situation.”

Loyola Marymount Athletics Director William Husak to The Salt Lake Tribune

“I can’t speak for every athletic department, but I can tell you there was a unanimous consensus about the prospect of bringing BYU into the West Coast Conference.”

MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson

“Since its inception, the Mountain West Conference has worked strategically to grow and strengthen the league, in order to position itself at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. Our Board of Directors’ diligent exploration of options to advance the membership’s objectives is ongoing. This includes conversations with our television partners to address issues of mutual importance, as well as determining the optimal configuration for the Conference and investigating the possibility of various collaborative alliances.  We look forward to the future with great excitement – particularly welcoming recent additions Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada into the Mountain West.”

For more on this, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang