Wyoming Illinois Football

Wyoming running backs coach Gordie Haug, left, talks with quarterback Andrew Peasley during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, in Champaign, Ill.

The repercussions of Wyoming's transfer-heavy offseason can be interpreted differently on opposite sides of the Colorado-Wyoming border.

To Cowboys coach Craig Bohl, losing 10 players to the transfer portal following the 2021 season was a brutal glimpse into the new modus operandi in college football.

"I don't like it," Bohl said this past summer. "This has been a transition for me, but you're either going to evolve or you're not."

To Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, looking at the eight transfers Wyoming imported from the portal — including players from Alabama, Michigan State, Ole Miss, USC and Wisconsin — was a reminder of the advantages afforded schools other than his own.

"(They are) certainly a high-quality program and then being able to add some key transfers has changed their team in a really, really good way," Calhoun said.

"Frankly, from here on out we're going to be operating at a disadvantage. I think especially when you look at the transfer part of it. That's going to be very, very evident this week."

Air Force (2-0) and the reconstructed Cowboys (2-1) will meet Friday at 6 p.m. at Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium.

The exodus from Laramie was sudden last year. Both of the team's leading quarterbacks, two starting cornerbacks, a pair of receivers and standout running back Xazavian Valladay were among those to depart after the season.

That forced Bohl to use the portal out of necessity, not a preference for this longtime coach who values stability. He is in Year 9 at Wyoming. He spent more than a decade at North Dakota State before that and was part of Tom Osborne's long-established staff before that.

He had some experience with transfers at North Dakota State, where as an FCS program the Bison could accept one-time transfers long before the NCAA allowed it at the FBS level. But this quantity was new to him. He sought transfer who had come from programs where he knew coaches, so some of the initial vetting in terms of talent and character came from people he felt he could trust.

"I was worried initially, saying, 'OK, are we going to be able to attract enough guys where we have a book of knowledge on them to where we're not reaching?'" Bohl said. "It's always better to want something you don't have than to have something you don't want.

"We haven't gotten that from these guys."

Among the starters the Cowboys landed was Andrew Peasley, the quarterback who came on in relief for Utah State last year and led the Aggies to a 49-45 come-from-behind win at Air Force in a game that ultimately decided the Mountain West's Mountain Division title.

Knowing this week's game, as a Friday contest, would present a short week, Air Force spent some time during the summer and fall camp preparing for the Cowboys. However, because of the large number of newcomers, they've discovered new wrinkles in Wyoming they couldn't have anticipated at the time.

"They provide an immense number of challenges," Calhoun said.

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