The University of Wyoming will honor former head coach Joe Tiller by wearing a special helmet decal for the Cowboys’ Homecoming game on Oct. 28 versus New Mexico. The helmet decal will display the letters “JT” in the Wyoming school colors of brown and gold.
Tiller, who passed away Saturday Sept. 30, 2017 at the age of 74 in Buffalo, Wyo., became the head coach at Wyoming in December 1990. He would guide the Wyoming Cowboys through one of their most successful periods in school history from the 1991 through 1996 seasons.
“Coach Tiller meant so much to our football program and our athletics department, and we wanted to recognize him for his contributions,” said UW Athletics Director Tom Burman. “We have not had a home game since Sept. 30 when Joe passed away, and while we recognized him that day with a moment of silence, we wanted to do something more. We felt that having our football team wear a specially-designed logo on their helmets for Homecoming was the appropriate way to honor his memory.”
In his third season as head coach at Wyoming, Tiller’s Cowboys captured a share of the 1993 Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship and appeared in the Copper Bowl.
In 1996, Wyoming finished with a 10-2 record, had the nation’s longest winning streak and won the WAC Pacific Division, earning a spot in the inaugural WAC Championship Game. The Cowboys concluded the ’96 season ranked 22nd in the national polls, and reached a high ranking of No. 15 in the Coaches Poll that season. Tiller’s ’96 Cowboys also led the nation in passing offense and featured the Biletnikoff Award winner in Marcus Harris, who set the NCAA record for career receiving yards.
Tiller was named the WAC Coach of the Year in 1996 and was named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Region Coach of the Year in 1993 and ’96. Tiller would conclude his time as head coach of the Cowboys with a 39-30-1 (.564) record in six seasons.
Prior to becoming Wyoming’s head coach, Tiller had served as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the 1987 and ‘88 seasons under then head coach Paul Roach. The ‘87 and ‘88 Cowboys won back-to-back WAC titles, went undefeated in conference play both seasons and earned consecutive trips to the Holiday Bowl. The 1987 Cowboys reached a high ranking of No. 21 during the season, while the ‘88 Cowboys were ranked as high as 10th and finished the season ranked 20th.
Tiller spent two years (1989 and ‘90) as the offensive coordinator at Washington State between his times as an assistant coach and head coach at Wyoming.
Tiller left Wyoming following the 1996 season to become the head coach at Purdue University where he coached from 1997 to 2008. He became the winningest coach in Purdue history, amassing an 87-62 (.584) record and a 53-43 (.552) record in Big Ten conference games. He led the Boilermakers to 10 bowl games, a Big Ten Championship in 2000 and an appearance in the 2001 Rose Bowl. He was named National Coach of the Year and the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1997. His Purdue teams were ranked in the Associated Press poll for 80 weeks and reached a high ranking of No. 5 in 2004.
He concluded his head-coaching career with a 126-92-1 (.578) record in 18 seasons — six at Wyoming and 12 at Purdue.