Throughout a career that includes building championship programs at Division II Northern Colorado and I-AA Montana, Joe Glenn has abided by a homespun aphorism. "I'm the sixth of 12 children, and growing up our bedrooms were a mess on Saturday mornings," says the third-year Wyoming coach. "My mother would tell my brothers and me to clean our room before we went outside. We'd be like, 'Aw, Mom.' But she had a motto. She'd say to us, 'How do you eat an elephant?' And we all knew the answer: One bite at a time. That's been our motto at Wyoming."
Even Glenn concedes the Cowboys have progressed faster than expected, considering the elephantine task he faced upon arriving in the winter of 2002. He took over a team that had lost 18 of its last 20 games under former coach Vic Koenning. After a 4--8 season in '03, Wyoming jumped to 7--5 last year--including the school's first bowl victory since 1966, a 24--21 win over UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl. Now, with 19 returning starters, including two of the Mountain West's top players in senior quarterback Corey Bramlet and wideout Jovon (Playmaker) Bouknight, the Cowboys are vying with 2004 national darling Utah for conference supremacy. "The expectations I like," says Glenn, 56. "When we've had high expectations at other places I've been, the kids have risen to that."
Rising above opposing cornerbacks the past three years has been Bouknight, who's third in the nation among active receivers in career yards (2,510) and fourth in receptions (173). He has caught at least two passes in 36 consecutive games. "I never go into the game thinking, Let's not have the streak be broken," says Bouknight. "But I approach every catch like it could be the last." Wyoming's top two rushers, junior Ivan Harrison and senior Joe Harris, both had off-season knee surgery. Harrison should be ready for September, but Harris's status is up in the air. In the wings is an unproven quartet of junior Alex Renshaw, redshirt freshmen Wynel Seldon and Devin Moore, and true freshman J.R. Moore. The defense, with eight returning starters, provides stability. The secondary, led by junior cornerback Derrick Martin (14 passes deflected) and junior free safety John Wendling (89 tackles), is among the best in the country.
The Cowboys will be tested at the outset: a Sept. 3 game at Florida, where former Utah coach Urban Meyer has set up shop. "We're going to find out in a hurry whether we belong," Glenn says of the Cowboys' newfound prominence. "But we think we can touch gloves with any of the heavyweights now. And I think our kids believe it too." -- Richard Deitsch