Dave Christensen, the architect of the offense that vaulted Missouri back to national prominence and helped make quarterback Chase Daniel the school's first Heisman Trophy finalist, is the new head coach at Wyoming.
Christensen agreed to terms Sunday on a five-year contract with a base salary of $180,000 and a total package that could exceed $750,000 per year, and the school announced the deal Monday night.
“We are thrilled to be able to attract a coach with the experience that coach Christensen brings to our program,” athletic director Tom Burman said in a statement on the university's Web site. “He is one of the great offensive minds in college football.
“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.”
Interestingly, Wyoming and Missouri will play for the first time in a two-game home-and-home series in 2011 in Columbia, Mo., and 2012 in Laramie, Wyoming.
Christensen, who transformed Missouri's offense by bringing in the spread in 2005, is the first assistant to leave Pinkel's staff since he was hired in 2001. He actually has been with Pinkel much longer than that, serving as his offensive line coach for four years and offensive coordinator for another four at Toledo.
“It's a great state and it has rich football tradition,” Christensen said. “They've got a lot of great kids, blue-collar kids that work extremely hard and are extremely dedicated.
“They've got the resources to be successful and I think it's an appealing job.”
Pinkel said Christensen would remain with the 19th-ranked Tigers through the Big 12 championship game Saturday against No. 3 Oklahoma and whatever bowl game they play in, although he'll devote some time to hiring a staff and recruiting for Wyoming.
“He'll finish his responsibilities. That's his desire,” Pinkel said.
Christensen said it was the right thing to do.
“I have an obligation to the university, to our players, to this program,” Christensen said. “It's very, very important to me to make sure everything's finished out at Missouri and I give my absolute best to help this team win the next two games.”
Christensen's offense at Missouri ranked fourth in the nation with a 45-point average and was also fourth in passing (344 yards per game) and sixth in total offense (509 ypg).
“He's going to take that program to levels it's never seen,” said Daniel, who is fourth in the nation with 3,880 yards passing and ranks fifth in total offense and seventh in passer rating.
“What he's going to bring is an offense that's just insane. It's a player's dream to play under a coach like that. The type of things he does on the offensive side of the football are second to none. He's a genius ... and it's really shown over the last two or three years here.”
Glenn was 30-41 at Wyoming, and went 4-8 overall with a 1-7 Mountain West record this season. Christensen said he'd follow the blueprint Pinkel used at Missouri, which had a long history of losing.
“What we did at Missouri was rebuild a foundation, and build a program on top of that,” Christensen said. “We did the same thing at Toledo, and certainly anything I would do would be based upon the model I've gotten from Don James and coach Pinkel.”
Christensen played at Washington from 1980-82, when Pinkel was an assistant there. After several stops, including high schools and a junior college, Christensen broke into the major college coaching ranks at Washington in 1989 as an offensive line coach for Pinkel, who was then the offensive coordinator.
The two were together for an 11-0-1 season at Toledo in 1995, but found their greatest success after the dramatic change in his offense for the 2005 season. Missouri reached the No. 1 ranking last season.