LARAMIE, Wyo. — The Wyoming football team doesn't have a game this weekend, giving the coaching staff a great opportunity to kick back, read some magazines and catch up on Netflix.
"We kind of joke around here that bye weeks aren’t off weeks as coaches," defensive ends coach A.J. Cooper said. "They’re actually a little bit more work, but that’s OK."
Wyoming's staff will look to make the most of the week by getting out and recruiting.
"I still remember a bye week a couple years ago, I went and watched Carl Granderson play live," said Cooper, who was spotted recruiting Friday night in Hannibal, Mo. "So those things are invaluable, to get into high schools, to see kids play live, to be able to sit with coaches and counselors and principals and really find out about young men.
"Because (coach Craig) Bohl says all the time, ‘Recruiting is the lifeblood of your program.’ If you continue to bring in better players that fit what we do, that continues to push the competition and builds depth."
Not that Wyoming wasn't recruiting on the weekends anyway.
"I can tell you this, with the exception of Eastern Michigan, I’ve been out every Friday night, and I think there’s probably a core group, five or six guys, that have been out," Bohl said. "And what it does do is it gives us a chance to have a little bit more flexibility on Friday, but recruiting is always important. That’s the thing that really sets you apart."
Wyoming has had a big recruiting month as is, with four recruits since Oct. 3 either verbally committing or making their silent commitment public.
Last year, Wyoming's bye came in the second to last week of the regular season, meaning some high school players' seasons had already come to an end.
"We were still able to get out to quite a few playoff games, which is still obviously very valuable," Cooper said. "We don’t control when the bye hits, but this is certainly a great time from the standpoint of where our team’s at, and I think, from a recruiting perspective, too, you can catch a lot of kids about halfway or a little farther than halfway through the year, so it certainly hits at a great time."
Now is also a good time to recruit given the way Wyoming entered the bye. The Cowboys are 4-2 this season with consecutive wins against Mountain Division rivals to open their conference slate.
"It’s always better to recruit when you win, but as a coach, you’ve got to stay diligent and pound the pavement, regardless of if you’re winning or losing," Cooper said. "I know in the past, we’ve signed some of our better recruiting classes, I’m just talking about as a staff, when you don’t win. So what you can’t do is just assume … the recruits are going to come. Developing those relationships, making sure you keep open communication with parents and coaches is vital.
"But certainly for me personally, recruiting the Front Range and getting two big wins against Front Range opponents like that, we’ve already seen that have an immediate impact with recruits in those areas."
Wyoming has had plenty of success with Colorado players who weren't recruited by either Colorado State or Colorado, including star safety Andrew Wingard and players like kicker Cooper Rothe and Alijah Halliburton, who have contributed as true freshmen.
"Those guys are having a major impact, and recruits are seeing, I think, what we’re talking about," Cooper said. "As far as our ability to develop but also play the best guys right away. And they’re seeing some of those Colorado guys get on the field and compete against some other opponents. So we’ve got to continue to hit that thing hard."