Dave Christensen An Offensive Innovator

He may not be as well known nationally as some other fast-rising coaches, but Wyoming's Dave Christensen has an impressive resume. Illini fans should remember his high-powered offenses at Missouri. He has continued to impress in his first head coaching job.

One college coach who is getting the attention of a lot of schools with vacancies for a head coach is Wyoming's third year coach Dave Christensen.

At first look, Christensen's overall record as a head coach is a little deceiving. While it stands at 17-18 overall, he has taken the Cowboys bowling two out of three years.

This season, Christensen has his team at 7-4 with the Cowboys's season finale at Colorado State.

Christensen, a long time assistant coach and offensive coordinator for Gary Pinkel at Missouri, is known as a great recruiter, the proof being what he has accomplished in Laramie. If you can recruit at Wyoming, you can recruit anywhere.

Wyoming hired its dynamic and innovative new leader on Dec. 1, 2008, as University of Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman announced that Christensen, then the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Missouri, had been selected as the new head coach of the Cowboys.

"We are thrilled to be able to attract a coach with the experience that Coach Christensen brings to our program," said Burman at the time of Christensen's hiring. "He is one of the great offensive minds in college football, and he will bring a very exciting brand of football to Jonah Field.

"The plan he presented to us for building a comprehensive program was the best we heard in our search process. I am confident that he will put an outstanding coaching staff together, and that they will hit the ground running. With Dave leading Cowboy Football, I believe our program will make dramatic progress in the coming years and return to a position of prominence in the Mountain West Conference."

After serving as an assistant coach at the college level for 24 years, Christensen expressed the emotions he felt upon earning his first head coaching position.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be given the opportunity to lead the Wyoming Cowboy football program," Christensen said. "The opportunity to become a head coach is something I've been preparing for my entire career.

"This is a great job at an outstanding university. Wyoming has a rich football tradition, and combined with the new, state-of-the-art facilities, I know we can win here."

Christensen became the 31st coach in Wyoming football history and was signed to a five-year contract -- a contract that was extended in the spring of 2010 to run through Dec. 31, 2014. At the time of Christensen's contract extension, Burman had this to say:

"In his first year, Coach Christensen did an outstanding job of returning Wyoming football to a competitive position in the Mountain West Conference. He led our football program to a winning record and a New Mexico Bowl victory, and it was evident by the large number of fans at the bowl game that he has re-energized our fan base.

"We are excited about the future of Cowboy football and the leadership that Coach Christensen has provided, and we are pleased to announce this extension of his contract."

While the offensive coordinator at Missouri, Christensen was named the 2007 National Offensive Coordinator of the Year by Rivals.com and was also runner-up for the 2007 Frank Broyles Award, which honors the top assistant coach in the nation each season.

He helped lead the Missouri Tigers to the Big 12 Championship game in both the 2007 and 2008 seasons as champions of the Big 12 North.

In 2008, Mizzou ranked No. 4 in the NCAA in passing offense (330.4 yards per game), No. 6 in scoring offense (42.2 points per game) and No. 8 in total offense (484.1 yards per game). The Tigers concluded the 2008 season ranked No. 16 in the final USA Today Coaches' Poll, No. 19 in the final Associated Press Media Poll and were No. 21 in the final BCS Rankings entering the college bowl season. Missouri defeated Northwestern, 30-23 in overtime, in the 2008 Valero Alamo Bowl.

The 2007 season saw Missouri conclude the season ranked No. 4 in the final Associated Press ranking. That was the highest season-ending ranking in school history for the Tigers. Mizzou finished the season by defeating Arkansas, 38-7, in the Cotton Bowl, giving the Tigers a school-record 12th win on the season. His 2007 offense ranked No. 5 in the nation in total offense (490.3 yards per game), No. 8 in scoring offense (39.9 points per game) and No. 9 in passing offense (314.1 yards per game).

Christensen served as an assistant coach under Gary Pinkel from 1992 to 2008 -- first at the University of Toledo from 1992-2000 and then at Missouri from 2001-08. Christensen was Pinkel's offensive coordinator from 1997-2008, and coached the offensive line for 17 seasons at Toledo and Missouri. Beginning in 2005, Christensen devised and implemented one of college football's most exciting, no-huddle, spread offenses.

WHY CHRISTENSEN WOULD MAKE A GREAT HIRE FOR Illinois: Christensen has proven he can recruit, and he can win at Wyoming. If he can do that at Wyoming, the general consensus is that he can do that anywhere. He is familiar recruiting the state of Illinois during his time at Missouri. He runs a great offensive system and would bring an exciting brand of football to Illinois.

WHY CHRISTENSEN MIGHT NOT BE THE RIGHT GUY FOR ILLINOIS: He has been a head coach for only three years. He may not be the splashy hire Mike Thomas is looking to make.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories