When rumors began circulating over the weekend that Joe Glenn was going to announce his retirement as the head coach of the University of South Dakota football team, thoughts drifted back to when he coached in Laramie, Wyo., as the head coach at the University of Wyoming (2003-2008).
As a reporter for the Laramie Daily Boomerang (yes, that’s the name of the newspaper) in the day, Nov. 22, 2008, to be exact, talk was in the air that it would be his last game as a Cowboy after a 31-20 loss to rival Colorado State.
The announcement came the next day that he would not be retained.
Other than the normal “fire the coach fan” when things go sour, and there were plenty of them hiding behind fake names on social media, Glenn was well liked and respected among the media brethren.
How could you not like the guy? Despite some struggles in his six-year career with Wyoming (30-41 overall record, one bowl game victory), win or lose you knew you were going to get a fair assessment and no excuses from Glenn.
And Glenn could play on the piano and sing a robust rendition of “Ragtime Cowboy Joe,” whether he was in front of thousands of fans, a taped national TV pregame show or just visiting a nursing home.
Glenn, it seemed to me, never forgot a face or a name.
Did that translate to always winning football games? No, but it translated in being one first class human being and a man you could count on giving you a smile, shaking your hand or patting you on the back when he saw you.
My first meeting of Glenn in Laramie was actually at the local bowling alley. He had been hired earlier in the week and he was making his meet-and-greet rounds, which turned out to be a precursor of his normal way of public life. Working during a Bowl For Kids Sake for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Glenn walked by our group and stuck his hand out and said, “Joe Glenn, glad to meet you.” I told him I was actually a sportswriter at the local newspaper and I’m sure we would be seeing a lot of each other.
Glenn probably shook a hundred hands in about the half hour he spent at the bowling alley.
A few months later, while leaving the facilities at the University of Wyoming, Glenn was walking in. I assumed he wouldn't remember me (it was the off-season and I was not the main beat writer for Wyoming football). Glenn, with a wide grin said, “Rich, how’s it going?”
A bit stunned that he remembered me as I hadn’t talked to him since that day at the bowling alley, I said “fine, coach, how are you?”
“Couldn’t be better, what a beautiful day it is in Laramie, Wyoming,” Glenn continued.
Regardless of the weather outside, he was usually right.
When Glenn was let go at Wyoming, he didn’t duck out of town with a bitter taste in his mouth — at least publicly. Disappointed, I’m sure, he and Michelle would end up semi-retired in Arizona before USD came calling again.
"I want to thank the University of Wyoming for giving us the opportunity to coach here the past six years," said Glenn at the time. "We have made many friends both on and off the field. I also want to thank our football staff, their families and our players for all their hard work and loyalty. It's been a privilege to be a part of this great game with all of them."
Glenn would lose more games than he won in his second stint with the Coyotes, but his team showed flashes this season before dropping their final two games to finish 5-6. It was time, he said, to call it a career.
Joe Glenn won three national titles — two at Division II Northern Colorado and one at FCS Montana between his first stint at USD and his tenure at Wyoming. He led the Cowboys to a 2004 Las Vegas Bowl upset, 24-21 over UCLA.
Overall, he was 200-134-1 record in 28 seasons, including his first head coaching job at Doane College.
Enjoy retirement coach. Wyoming fans know what comes next.
As you famously used to end your press conferences and public speaking appearances in Wyoming:
"Powder River, Let `er Buck!"