UW’s Top 50 football players: No. 22
LARAMIE -- During this summer series we are going to countdown the Top 50 football players in Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.
The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.
This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining me is Robert Gagliardi, Jared Newland, Ryan Thorburn and Kevin McKinney. We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is more fair.
Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter page @7220sports.
Linebacker, 1994-97, Pine Bluffs, Wyoming
Here's why: Jim Talich was a walk-on in Laramie.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Only the school's all-time leading tackler, Galand Thaxton, had more stops in his college career than this Pine Bluffs Hornet.
Talich now sits third overall, 14 tackles behind Andrew Wingard. Think about how many stops Logan Wilson had from the linebacker spot in his four seasons at UW. It felt like he was in on every play.
He has 19 fewer tackles than Talich had.
He earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors during his junior season after helping lead the Cowboys to a 10-2 record and berth in the inaugural WAC Championship game in Las Vegas.
Wyoming fell to sixth-ranked BYU, 28-25. The Cougars had to force overtime with a last-second field goal that December night inside Sam Boyd Stadium.
Talich also earned All-WAC honors on the academic side during his last two seasons in Laramie. His older brother, Cory Talich, also played for the Pokes from 1990-93.
Jim Talich's 138-tackle performance in 1996 is still good enough for sixth in program history. His 18- tackles in a 22-19 victory over Air Force that season is still tied for seventh all time.
Tucker's take: Unfortunately, when I think of Jim Talich, the first thing that pops into my head is the 10-2 season and the screw job that left Wyoming on the outside looking in during bowl selections in '96.
Believe me, Talich still thinks about it, too.
"The possibility to be left out of a bowl that year was never in my mind at the time," Talich said over the phone last summer. "It seems more shameful and unbelievable today, especially how the qualifications to be bowl eligible seem easily attainable. It was more political and money driven than I was able to understand as a 21-year-old."
Shameful is a nice way of putting it.
Utah, an 8-4 team, got an invite. WAC officials were too busy tooting BYU's horn and trying to get them into an Alliance Bowl to fight for Joe Tiller's Cowboys, who were not only ranked No. 22 in the nation, but boasted the best offense in America and the Biletnikoff Trophy winner, Marcus Harris.
Does anyone blame guys on this team for being upset about teams winning six games and going bowling these days?
Harris once told me Talich was maybe the most "underappreciated Cowboy ever." Not by me. I had the No. 94 jersey. Wish I still did. Who doesn't love a guy that comes from small town Wyoming and goes all in? Talich's motor never quit. His effort will never be questioned.
Talich's son, Nicolas Talich, is now a member of the UW football team. Guess what -- he's a walk-on from small town Wyoming. Would anyone be surprised to see a Talich making plays in Laramie again?
How the panel voted: Cody Tucker (20), Robert Gagliardi (19), Jared Newland (30), Ryan Thorburn (12), Kevin McKinney (50)
Previous selections: No. 50, No. 49, No. 48, No. 47, No. 46, No. 45, No. 44, No. 43, No. 42, No. 41, No. 40, No. 39, No. 38, No. 37, No. 36, No. 35, No. 34, No. 33, No. 32, No. 31, No. 30, No. 29, No. 28, No. 27, No. 26, No. 25, No. 24, No. 23
Cody Tucker: Brand Manger and creator of 7220sports.com. Tucker has covered the Cowboys since June of 2019, but was a season-ticket holder for nearly three decades. Tucker has also covered Michigan State University Athletics for the Lansing State Journal and Detroit Free Press and the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins during his 10-year journalism career
Robert Gagliardi: Former sports editor and University of Wyoming beat reporter for WyoSports. Gagliardi covered the Cowboys from more than a quarter century. He also covered the team at the Branding Iron, the UW student newspaper. Gagliardi also co-authored the book: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming
Jared Newland: Currently the local sales manager for Townsquare Media SE Wyoming, Newland worked with and around Wyoming athletics for 20 years, starting as a student athletic trainer in 1990. Newland has also served in the Sports Information Office, the Cowboy Joe Club, Wyoming Sports Properties and was a UW Athletics Hall of Fame Committee Member from 2002-14.
Ryan Thorburn: Currently covering the Oregon Ducks for The Register-Guard, Thorburn also covered the Cowboys in the early and mid-90's for the Branding Iron and Casper Star Tribune. He has also written four books about Wyoming Athletics: The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry Between Colorado State and Wyoming, Cowboy Up: Kenny Sailors, The Jump Shot and Wyoming’s Championship Basketball History, Lost Cowboys: The Story of Bud Daniel and Wyoming Baseball and Black 14: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Wyoming Football
Kevin McKinney: Currently the senior associate athletics director for external affairs at the University of Wyoming, McKinney also serves as the radio color commentator for Wyoming football and men's basketball. McKinney has been involved with UW Athletics in some capacity since 1972. He was also inducted into the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015.
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