Wyoming’s Un-Sweet 16: No. 8 CSU’s Bell Twins vs. No. 9 Karl Benson
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. 8 CSU's Bell Twins vs. No. 9 Karl Benson
Wyoming center Greg Chytka allegedly threw the first punch, but Rams' starting quarterback, Keith Lee, along with the Bell Twins, Mike and Mark, might just have started the war of words that quickly turned into all-out fisticuffs near midfield inside Hughes Stadium in late October of 1978.
"They started trash-talking us," former UW standout linebacker Ken Fantetti said in the book The Border War: The Bronze Boot Rivalry between Wyoming and Colorado State, co-authored by Ryan Thorburn and Robert Gagliardi. "There were twin brothers on the team, Mark and Mike Bell, and both played in the pros. They started giving me some crap saying they were going to kick our asses. Being the Wyoming Cowboy that I was, I said, 'bring it on!'
"That wasn't a very smart thing to do since I was surrounded by 50 other people."
How did this whole brawl between Border War rivals come about? Sark Arslenian (Our No. 10 seed in this tournament) set it all in motion the night prior. Here's how Mike Bell described it to The Coloradoan in 2016.
"We’d always go to a hotel in Loveland the night before a home game, to have our own little atmosphere and meetings and get ready for the game. Sark had us pack all our gear, like we were going to play on the road. When we were leaving our meetings the morning of the game, (defensive coordinator) Charley Armey gets up in front of us and says we’re going to watch a film about what the Wyoming Cowboys are all about. It was clips of cheap shots on the sidelines and on the field over the years, to get us all riled up.
By the time we left that meeting room, we were all fired up, throwing chairs around and doing all kinds of stupid things. I was an emotional wreck. I was crying, I was so pumped up to play.
We got all our gear on before we got on the buses, then they stopped the buses on the way to the stadium and got on the radio to get the timing right. It’s only about 35-40 minutes before kickoff at this point, and everyone’s wondering where we are. We weren’t on the field warming up, like we normally would. Instead of bringing the buses to the tunnel, like they usually did, they pulled them up to the gate where the fans come in. We got out and came down through the stands in the student section, and everybody was going crazy, high-fiving us and all. We came onto the field at the exact time Wyoming’s four captains came on for the coin flip, and our captains said, 'There aren’t just four captains today; everybody’s a captain.' So we all went out for the coin flip, and we were all jacked up. Wyoming’s team all walked onto the field behind their captains.
People started jawing, and a brawl broke out. There was so much emotion. We finally got it all settled down, and we played the game. The worst part is we lost the game (13-3). But I’ll never forget it. And because of that moment, the NCAA now has a rule that only captains can go out for the coin flip."
In the Border War book, Mike Bell claims he never threw a punch. His brother Mark, on the other hand, ran his mouth at the coin flip, he recalled.
Mike Bell is one of the most decorated players in CSU history, registering a then-record 25 sacks before being selected No. 2 overall by Kansas City in the 1979 NFL Draft. His brother was no slouch himself. Mark Bell was taken in the fifth round by the St. Louis Cardinals.
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Former Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson snuck onto this list for a number of reasons, one being the way he fought tooth and nail to get the Cougars into an Alliance Bowl after a 28-25 overtime victory over the Cowboys in the 1996 Championship game in Sin City.
Did BYU deserve a shot at a major bowl? Sure.
That team finished the regular season 13-1 and ranked fifth in the AP and Coaches Poll. Their lone loss came in Week 3 in Seattle. That was a 29-17 setback against No. 14 Washington.
While Benson was busy selling the Cougars to anyone who would listen, he didn't beat the drum for a 10-2 Wyoming team that landed at No. 22 in the final polls.
Remember, it was the Cougars who had to take UW into OT in Vegas.
BYU eventually played Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, eking out a 19-15 victory over the Wildcats. Wyoming went home and watched an 8-4 Utah team get blasted 38-10 by Wisconsin in the Copper Bowl.
Aside from that, you may recall when Benson expanded the WAC to a whopping 16 teams in '96. TCU, SMU, Rice, Houston ... come on down. Let's throw in UNLV, Tulsa and San Jose State, too.
With his new super-league came quadrants. In other words, UW would not play traditional rivals like BYU and Utah on an annual basis.
That, along with fewer NCAA Tournament bids, led to a 1998 meeting at Denver International Airport, attended by the presidents of BYU, Utah, Colorado State, Air Force and UW.
The Mountain West was born.
So, who do you consider more of a villain? Vote here:
* No. 1 LaVell Edwards vs. No. 16 Donnel Pumphrey (Edwards 98% of the vote)
* No. 2 Kyle Whittingham vs. No. 15 Morgan Bros. (Whittingham 90% of the vote)
* No. 3 Bradlee Van Pelt vs. No. 14 Philip Dubois (Van Pelt 63% of the vote)
* No. 4 BYU Quarterbacks vs. No. 13 Troy Calhoun (Calhoun 62% of the vote)
* No. 5 Local Turncoats vs. No. 12 Urban Meyer (Turncoats 61% of the vote)
* No. 6 CSU tailbacks vs. No. 11 Rocky Long (Long 53% of the vote)
* No. 7 Sonny Lubick vs. No. 10 Sark Arslenian (Lubick 65% of the vote)