Wyoming’s Un-Sweet 16: No. 3 Bradlee Van Pelt vs. No. 11 Rocky Long
LARAMIE -- There's a few things that can land you on a list like this one.
Beating Wyoming with regularity certainly makes you a thorn in the side. Making stupid decisions will also draw the ire of fans. Being an all-round jerk will do it, too.
This is our version of the Un-Sweet 16, pitting the biggest villains in Wyoming Cowboys football history against one another and eventually crowning the worst of the worst. This won't be our opinion, it's yours. You can vote for who will advance to the next round by clicking on the box at the bottom of this page.
We did our best to round up the ultimate enemy of the Cowboy State. We reached out to people in the know, from different decades of UW football. Don't be surprised to see plenty of rivals on this list.
Here's today's matchup:
No. 3 Bradlee Van Pelt vs. No. 11 Rocky Long
Is there really any other player to wear that Colorado State uniform that got under your skin more so than Bradlee Van Pelt?
The shaggy hair. The skateboarding. The arrogance.
Van Pelt is a guy you love if he's on your team. If he's not, well, you get the gist.
The two-time Player of the Year in the Mountain West made light work of the Cowboys during the first meeting back in 2001. The Rams rolled to a 42-14 victory inside War Memorial Stadium. UW won just two games that season under then-head coach Vic Koenning.
That was Van Pelt's first-ever collegiate start under center. He completed 11-of-20 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. He added 85 more yards -- and a score -- on the ground during that rout.
Van Pelt and the Rams were once again victorious the following season en route to a conference championship. CSU outlasted a scrappy -- yet still 1-10 -- Wyoming squad, 44-36.
That night inside Hughes Stadium -- head coach Sonny Lubick's 100th-career win -- Van Pelt threw for 157 yards and a score. He rushed for 64 more yards and another touchdown. But before Lubick could celebrate, he was busy yanking his starting QB for on-the-field antics that had become all-too common.
Driving deep in UW territory and holding a slim 37-30 lead early in the fourth quarter, Van Pelt was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when he purposely stepped on a Cowboy defender inside the 10-yard line.
With UW an afterthought on the college football landscape at the time, it's easy to see why Van Pelt and the CSU faithful put all the focus on their in-state rival, Colorado. Van Pelt sparked that even further with his infamous spike into the helmet of a CU defender before entering the end zone earlier that season.
Casey Bramlet and the Cowboys served a reminder to the over-confident QB and that fanbase down south in the final meeting of his career in 2003 -- the Border War was still very much alive. Heavy underdogs, Joe Glenn's squad pulled off a 35-28 stunner in Laramie.
The field goal posts came down with the snow. CSU's winning streak in the series was halted at four.
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Now, Rocky Long isn't exactly an unlikeable guy. In fact, he has ties to Laramie and served as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator from 1981-85.
Long makes this list because of how dominant he has been against Wyoming on the opposing sideline.
As the head coach at New Mexico from 1998-2008, Long knocked off the Pokes eight times in 10 meetings, including a six-game winning streak in the series. Unfortunately for Wyoming fans, Long's next career move landed him ... in the Mountain West Conference.
Long became the defensive coordinator at San Diego State in 2009. During his two seasons in that role, the Aztecs and Cowboys both won a game. He was promoted to head coach in 2011, and over a nine-year tenure, he took four of six games from Wyoming, including a victory in the conference title game in 2016.
To make matters worse, Long's brief retirement was, well, brief. And, once again, he stayed in the league, returning to Albuquerque to take over the defense at his alma mater.
New Mexico has won just five games since his return to the desert. Two of those have come against Craig Bohl's bunch.
In 2020, a year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lobos didn't play one of their seven games inside their home state, instead setting up camp at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, former home of the UNLV Rebels.
UNM stunned the visiting Cowboys that season, 17-16, snapping an FBS-worst 14-game losing streak. They had also dropped 20 straight MW games coming in.
Last fall, the Lobos limped into Laramie on a five-game skid. The week prior, CSU handed them a 36-7 home loss. UNM racked up a grand total of 69 yards on offense in that loss to the Rams, including just 16 through the air.
Then came one of the most head-scratching setbacks in UW history.
New Mexico featured a surprise option attack on offense and Long's defense held the Cowboys to just a single field goal in the 14-3 upset. Wyoming rushed for just 108 yards on 36 carries. That's an average of three yards per attempt.
Long did it again.
After he left SDSU after the 2019 season, I asked Bohl if he thought about calling his old friend and offering him the vacant DC position in Laramie. You can read what he had to say about that right HERE.
So, who do you consider more of a villain? Vote here: