The Dome of Doom is one of the most difficult places to play in all of college sports. Located at 7,220 feet above sea level the elevation of Wyoming’s home arena — and 15,000-plus screaming fans — makes it nearly impossible to win games on the road there. Head coach Larry Shyatt is 60-15 at home the past four years as Wyoming’s head coach and power conference programs seem to want no part of playing a non-conference game there.
In a story from the Associated Press late this week, Shyatt revealed how he’s tried to do everything he can to schedule major conference opponents to come and play in Wyoming. The Cowboys will draw Cal at the Dome of Doom this season, but it was a deal in which Wyoming had to play two road games to make the one home game happen. The school hasn’t had a true home-and-home arrangement with a power conference program since Washington State over a decade ago.
Only four power conference programs have played a road game at Wyoming since 1997 and none since the 2004-05 season. Having been a member of staffs at bigger basketball programs like Clemson and Florida, Shyatt understands the scheduling conundrum, but he’d still like to draw some big-name opponents in his home arena.
“They’re not playing us, and quite honestly, if I was the head coach at Colorado or Florida, I don’t know if I would come to Laramie unless they’d play in October, September, August, July or June,” Shyatt said to the AP. “If I’m thinking selfishly of my university, what am I getting? What are we getting? What’s our league getting? Tough call.”
As the AP story notes, Wyoming has entered some in-season tournaments to try to beef up the schedule the next few seasons, but this is just another example of a program from a non-power league having a tough time getting major teams to play them at home. If Wyoming and other Mountain West programs hope to continue to make at-large NCAA tournament appearances, they need to try to get some kind of scheduling bump at home if they can. Coming off of four consecutive postseason appearances, it’s doubtful any power conference team wants to travel to Wyoming but it will be interesting to see if these sorts of things change in the next couple of years.