Tim Simmons, BFishinc
When college basketball started to gain national prominence in the late 1930s, the University of Colorado was ranked among the USA’s elite schools because of the coaching and recruiting abilities of Forrest B. “Frosty” Cox.
Known as the Mountain Fox, Cox replaced Colorado Sports Hall of Famer Earl “Dutch” Clark as the Buffalo Coach in 1935 and led CU to three NCAA Championships (1940, 1942 and 1946) and two NITs (1938 and 1940) while compiling a 13-season record of 147-89 (62.3 percent) in Boulder.
Cox’s 1940 Colorado squad captured the NIT title in New York City before advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight. After defeating Kansas in the 1942 NCAA quarterfinals, the Buffs advanced to the Final Four where CU lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Stanford. In addition to winning four Mountain State Conference (Skyline) titles, Cox coached two consensus All-Americans in Jack Harvey (1940) and Robert Dell (1942).
In addition to his basketball duties at CU, Cox was a backfield coach in football where his star pupil was the legendary Byron “Whizzer” White. A three-sport standout at CU, White also led Cox’s basketball team to the runner-up spot in the 1938 NIT Championships.
Five of Cox’s players from CU already are in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, including White (inducted in the first class in 1965), Harry Simmons (1982), Art Unger (1996), Sox Walseth (1998) and Harvey (1999).
Four months before his passing in January, 2004, Walseth said Cox “was tough-nosed, but he was a good guy. I remember we used to think he was this old guy, when he actually was only 38 or 39 and he’d go out and play half-court with us.”
In a March, 2011, article in the Boulder Daily Camera, former player Bob Kirchner was asked what made Frosty Cox such a special coach. Kirchner said “Cox was one of the fiercest competitors on the floor and, off the floor; he could charm the birds right out of the trees.”
Cox, who passed away in May, 1962, after coaching seven seasons at Montana (1955-1962), was a standout athlete at Kansas (1929-1931) where he played for the legendary Phog Allen. In a February, 2010 article in the Lawrence Journal-World, Cox’s days at CU were remembered as being “darn good for a period when few considered basketball of much merit in the mountains.” The article also mentioned that Cox’s Buffs had a 7-4 record against Allen’s Jayhawk teams.
During his last season of coaching, when his Montana team was playing at Utah in January, 1962, Hack Miller wrote in the Deseret News that Cox’s basketball teams brought some of the first fame to the Mountains. “The thing that makes the Cox basketball so interesting is his all-court strategy. He’s not a run-and-pop’em team.”
Cox’s children grew up in Boulder during their father’s tenure at CU. His younger son worked on the CU football and basketball stats crews in the 1970s. Frosty Jr. played for his father at Montana but returned to Colorado. Cox’s daughter (Judy) resides in Bremerton, WA.
Five of Cox’s players from CU are already in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, including White (inducted in the first class in 1965), Harry Simmons (1982), Sox Walseth (1998), and Harvey (1999).