Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PROVO — BYU fans that attended Thursday night's season-opener against Washington State found several new features in and around LaVell Edwards Stadium.
For the first time, the school allowed tailgating in an area near the BYU Broadcasting Building and had additional RV parking north of the stadium.
Inside, two new video screens, measuring 35 feet high by 50 feet wide, and 940 feet of LED ribbon adorned the north and south sides of the stadium, displaying real-time statistics and animation.
"It's all part of a continual effort to improve the game-day experience," said BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe.
Fans raved about the new video boards.
"The video boards are crystal clear and beautiful," said BYU fan Bart Tingey. "The LED ribbons are a nice touch that really adds to the environment and the game experience. LaVell Edwards Stadium is immaculate and a great place to watch the Cougars."
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall applauded the improvements.
"I want (the fans) to come fill our stadium because of the experience of not only watching the game, the game-day experience, but also why we are playing the game," he said. "We continue to try to make LaVell Edwards Stadium a fantastic experience. Now there are brand new scoreboards and different things. There is a tailgate area that is now open at the Marriott Center, which I don't think has ever happened before, so we are trying to do everything better to improve our program. It is progress."
TEXAS ROOTS: BYU linebacker Brandon Ogletree hails from McKinney, Texas, and when he was in high school he was recruited by then-Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.
On Thursday, Leach made his debut as Washington State's coach.
"I'm not good friends with him or anything, but I went to a recruiting visit to Texas Tech," Ogletree said of Leach. "That was back when (basketball coach) Bobby Knight was there and he talked to us and everything. It was a lot of fun and we watched some basketball games. It's a cool place, a cool atmosphere in Lubbock. I have a ton of respect for (Leach)."
FLAG-BEARERS: Before the game, linebacker Spencer Hadley carried out the special teams flag. Offensive lineman Walter Kahaiali'i carried the team flag. And former BYU tight end Itula Mili carried the alumni flag.
WHITE-OUT: Most of the crowd at Edwards Stadium wore white T-shirts distributed to fans before the game.
WATCH LISTS: Both BYU and Washington State have at least one player on the following preseason watch lists: Biletnikoff (BYU's Cody Hoffman and WSU's Marquess Wilson), Butkus (BYU's Uona Kaveinga and WSU's Travis Long), Lombardi (BYU's Braden Hansen and Kyle Van Noy and WSU's Long), Maxwell (BYU's Riley Nelson and WSU's Wilson), Nagurski (BYU's Van Noy and WSU's Long) and Davey O'Brien (BYU's Nelson and WSU's Jeff Tuel).
BYU-PAC-12 CONNECTION: Three BYU alums are head coaches of Pac-12 programs — Leach, Utah's Kyle Whittingham and Washington's Steve Sarkisian.
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