PROVO — Ah, BYU fans. One moment they are down and depressed, calling for the coach’s job, 550 yards later they are celebrating like it is 1984.
Yes, days after BYU’s utterly disappointing performance in the Cougar’s season opener against Virginia, fans were understandably bitter. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s debut of the highly anticipated “Go Fast, Go Hard” mantra was — in reality — rather slow in scoring points and overall hard to view.
Then the Longhorns arrived and, like the storm that shook the stadium and provided another game day of delays, quarterback Taysom Hill and the Cougars sent the Longhorns back to Texas without their top 25 ranking and their defensive coordinator.
Fans can be viewed as the “invisible hand” that prompts coaching changes and gives backup quarterbacks hope for playing time. As such, taking a look back at the good and the bad of BYU’s passionate fan base is worthwhile.
What are the best and worst moments in BYU fan history? Let's take a closer look.
Dave Gillespie earned his bachelor degree in history from the University of Texas-Pan American in 2011. While working in the past as a sports editor in Texas, he currently works as the world geography instructor at IDEA College Prep in Pharr, Texas.
You have days like Saturday that will forever be etched into the minds of 63,000 fans and all those wearing blue with their pads. Saturday was special as the die-hard nature of Cougar fans was present as they showed up early and passionate. Despite the game delay, the fans returned — with many of the students never leaving — to cheer and see Hill and Co. provide SportsCenter with highlights for a week.
But we have the forgotten memory that the fans in blue couldn’t get a sell-out for LaVell Edwards' final home game.
This one is particularly disturbing. How Cougar Stadium-turned-LaVell Edwards Stadium did not sell out, or at least get to 64,000 is, frankly, pathetic.
The guy who put Provo, Utah, on the college football powerhouse map, gave the state of Utah its only college football national championship, Heisman trophy winner and, along the way, nearly copyrighted the forward pass only had 62,308 supporters in attendance on his last home game.
That final attendance figure was the count at the end of the game. Who knows how few showed up on time?
Yet that Miami game was something else. Utah and its co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson are coming to town this week, and the last time a team he led came to Provo, Ty Detmer happened.
The rabid fans wearing ties in honor of the future Heisman Trophy winner were a big part in creating the energy and momentum needed to take down the defending national champs.
But Cougar fans have not always shown such support. Take 1985. One year after winning the national championship, Robbie Bosco and offense was booed.
If there is one moment representative of a certain segment of BYU fans, it is this one. Bosco gave the university and the state of Utah a national championship — something that hasn’t been repeated since by any Utah team — and Cougar fans call for the backup in a 28-21 win over Air Force.
For better or worse, the fans in blue are hard to please.
But then fans got the legendary Barry Switzer's attention.
The former coach of the University of Oklahoma knows a bit about rabid fans after playing in big game after big game.
However, after BYU fans ingeniously created the “Barry Switzer Sewage Treatment Plant” in Midvale, Utah. The coach paid Cougar fans a huge compliment when he stated Cougar fans were as rabid as any fan base in the nation.
However, up until recently, BYU fans struggled to do the one thing followers of powerhouse teams do: wear the team color in unison.
The lack of blue at the games helped lead to the dreaded bibs of 1999. When BYU headed to Alabama in 1998 to take on the Crimson Tide, it became apparent the Cougar’s fan base lacked the same passion of wearing its royal blue in comparison to the Tide’s red sea of fans.
This in turn led to then-BYU president Merrill J. Bateman's halftime promos asking the fans “Will you wear blue?” They didn’t, and partly as a result, the entire athletic department underwent change.
So bad were the uniforms — dark “royal blue,” white and tan — that ever since Bronco Mendenhall brought back the traditional unis, BYU fans have had no problem wearing all the same color.
Speaking of 1999, the season finale gave all Cougar fans a black eye — one literally. A fan from the north endzone attacked a Ute cheerleader, and the cheerleader fought back, as YouTube will remind us for the foreseeable future.
Considering all the embarrassing moments of that day for BYU fans, this one was pretty bad.
Yet the 2001 rivlry game more than made up for the 1999 incident.
Led by Brandon Doman and Luke Staley, the nation’s top offense scored 14 points in the final five minutes to keep their BCS hopes alive. When Staley strutted down the sideline off of Doman’s option pitch, the crowd went crazy.
It is rumored that Kyle Whittingham called the crowd on that day the loudest he had heard. Considering he had coached Utah teams who played Michigan in the Big House, that is saying something.
Then again, BYU’s gameday atmosphere is always lacking a real presence of tailgaiting.
Sure, BYU has its pregame fun: throwing the football around with the kids, listening to KSL’s pregame show, preparing tomorrow’s nursery lesson and trying to find a parking spot five minutes after kickoff.
Perhaps it is the lack of alcohol or the fact many BYU fans drive a minivan to the game, BYU fans just aren’t real tailgaters.
However, when it comes down to it, fans of BYU are a great fanbase.
The deal with ESPN, the consistent big crowds in Provo and the strong presence on the road adequately demonstrate that those who wear blue and white can be proud of their team and each other, even if they are a little hot and cold.