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Craig Bohl retires: Revered coach ends decade run at Wyoming, led North Dakota State to three national titles

Wyoming coach Craig Bohl will retire following the team’s Arizona Bowl appearance vs. Toledo, ending his career as one of the definitive college football coaches of the American Northwest after leading Wyoming and North Dakota State to historic runs of success. Bohl, 65, will be succeeded by defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel, who was announced separately as the team’s new coach. Sawvel will take over full-time duties after the bowl game. 

Bohl came to Wyoming and delivered a historic level of consistency. He is the winningest coach in program history with a 60-60 record. After a 6-18 record in his first two seasons, Wyoming mustered a 54-42 mark over the last eight. Outside of the pandemic season, the Cowboys have finished .500 or better every year. Bohl leaves with the best winning percentage of any Wyoming coach since Joe Tiller over the last 30 years. 

Wyoming went 8-4 in 2023, which included an upset victory over Texas Tech at home. With a win in the Arizona Bowl, the Cowboys would capture their first nine-win season since a 10-win campaign in 1996. 

“Being the head football coach of the Wyoming Cowboys has been a privilege,” Bohl said in a statement. “I felt like now was the time for me step away and entrust the program to new leadership. I want to thank all the young men who have worn the Brown and Gold over the past 10 years for their dedication and for their passion in representing this football program, this university and this state.  Many thanks to all the assistant coaches and staff who have helped build Wyoming football into a consistently winning program over this past decade … there’s one more ballgame before I ride off as an old Cowboy. Let’s ride for the brand one more time and get a win in Tucson.” 

The program is best known for producing star quarterback Josh Allen, an All-Pro performer with the Buffalo Bills. Linebackers Chad Muma and Logan Wilson also went on to successful NFL careers. 

Prior to Wyoming, Bohl was the architect of the North Dakota State dynasty, which remains on one of the greatest runs in the history of the sport. 

After playing and coaching under Tom Osborne at Nebraska, Bohl brought many of the same concepts to the Bison. He took over a 2-8 Division II North Dakota State team in 2003 and quickly led it to conference contention as it transitioned up to Division I FCS in 2004. The program hit another level beginning in 2011 with three straight national titles — the second three-peat since the FCS was formed in 1978 — and a 43-2 record.

Chris Klieman, Bohl’s defensive coordinator and successor, led NDSU to four additional national championships before taking the Kansas State job (and winning the Big 12 in 2022). North Dakota State won nine national championships in 11 years after Bohl built the program to D-I relevance. 

“When I hired Craig as head coach, we both said our goal was to return Cowboy Football to a place of relevance in the Mountain West Conference and to be a consistently winning program,” Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman said. “With coach’s leadership, our football program has accomplished that.” 

Bohl will be eligible for the College Football Hall of Fame in three years. Thanks to his unbelievable 104-32 record at North Dakota State, he finishes 163-92 as a coach, a 63.9% winning percentage, pending the bowl game. He is responsible for three national championships, four conference championships and a division championship. Bohl also won two national coach of the year honors. 

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