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Black 14: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Wyoming Football Paperback – June 17, 2009
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For one, how spineless the UW administration and the governor where in letting Coach Lloyd Eaton dictate how the situation was going to be handled. I came away from the book thinking that if the athletic director, president, or governor had some ca hones, and not let Eaton run over them, the situation could have been handled in a way that wouldn't have destroyed a then top-ten football program.
Ryan also does a good job of chronicling the painful climb out of obscurity to the successful tenure of AD-Head Coach Paul Roach. It's the Roach years that many of our younger fans on this board remember as Wyoming's glory years and rightfully so. But as Ryan so poignantly points out, Wyoming football of the 50's to the mid 60's was damn good and on the verge of becoming a national powerhouse. But for the stubborn shortsightedness of the head coach, all was lost. And it's this fact that makes the story of Lloyd Eaton so tragic. Eaton's inability to adapt to the changing times of the '60s was his and Wyoming football's downfall.
Each of the lives of the Black 14 are detailed in the book and how the event shaped the rest of their lives. Ryan covers all of the surviving members and shows how each man dealt with the situation and what they did with their lives. Ryan covers 12 of the 14. Two were not interviewed, one having passed away, Jim Issac, and Ivie Moore, whereabouts unknown.
Thornburn brings us full circle to the present time. I was shocked to read his quotes from Wyoming new head coach Dave Christensen in the book. It means that he was working on this manuscript as late as this spring to be able to include "DC".
And though I was a bit disappointed at the brevity of the book (I guess I can't get enough of Wyoming football history), Thornburn covers his subject well and does justice to the most pivotal event in Wyoming football. An event which I believe we're still trying to overcome. As long as a live I'll never get over what might have been had cooler heads prevailed.
On the 40th anniversary year of the Black 14 incident, thank you Ryan Thornburn for a great read! I'd recommend it to anyone who loves Wyoming football or college football for that matter.
The book was a difficult read jumping all over place and time (who cares what their next coach was doing ten years after the fact). So many details were not told of this incident. Granted it had been 40 years, but this author even missed the fact that once the "14" were no longer on the field the team was so desperate for talent they suited up the "water boy" (student manager) to fill the team's void. Void is a good word for how I felt after reading this book... much of it was glazed over and left untold! It seems Lloyd Eaton is still considered a god in Brown and Gold country!