Wyoming coach accuses Air Force of faking injuries, has words with opposing coach, apologizes

Frank Schwab

The Air Force Academy has an honor code, which states, "We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does." Wyoming coach Dave Christensen didn't think the Falcons football players were living up to the letter of that code during Saturday's game.

So, instead of shaking hands with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun after the game, Christensen screamed at the coach (and an alum) of the service academy about his team being dishonest by intentionally faking an injury to gain an advantage.

Christensen got angry when Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz lost his helmet, started toward the Falcon sideline, and then went down to the ground holding his head. That gave Air Force an injury timeout, and it does seem fishy, especially because Dietz told The Gazette of Colorado Springs after the game his head felt "great." Players who lose their helmet have to come off the field for a play and there is no timeout.

Backup quarterback Kale Pearson scored the go-ahead touchdown on a run on Air Force's next play, and the Falcons won 28-27. Christensen couldn't let Dietz's maybe injury go, and yelled at Calhoun after the game.

"It's not a conversation that I have with my mom," the mild-mannered Calhoun told The Gazette. "Not that kind of dialogue."

"That's a pretty good trick," Christensen said about Dietz going down before he got to the sideline. "I really question ethics when people do that stuff."

Christensen felt regretful and apologetic on Sunday (it's a pretty sensitive issue to question the character of cadets at a service academy, after all), and he and athletic director Tom Burman put out a joint statement through the school's sports information office:

"I want to apologize to Wyoming fans, the Mountain West Conference and the game of college football for my actions and for the comments that I made after our game against Air Force," Christensen said. "I let my emotions, my passion for our football program and the frustrations of the first half of the season get the best of me, and my actions reflected negatively on our program.

"I have always tried to teach the young men in our program the importance of sportsmanship in our game, and with that said, I believe it is important to let them know that when you do make a mistake you need to stand up and take responsibility for your actions. That is what I am doing with this apology."

Burman's statement expressed support for Christensen's apology and Christensen as Wyoming's head coach, while saying his comments and actions "do not represent Wyoming Cowboy Football in the manner we expect."

The issue should blow over soon, but it added an unusual element to Air Force's victory.

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