The volleyball team hits harder than the football team. —Commenter on Burnt Orange Nation fan boards
Football games can be heart-stopping, but being a fan when your team is on the field takes the stress level up a few notches.
Of course, each fan handles the stress differently. Some gorge on potato chips, some don lucky socks that haven’t been washed since the last National Championship season — in BYU’s case, 1984 — and some post comments on fan sites. The way these online enthusiasts prepare for the weekly football game is similar to the way the players prepare — well, sort of.
Some fans spend hours dissecting film of the next opponent during the week leading up to the game, delve head first into statistical research, and look for potential threats on both sides of the ball. If they find anything of note, they immediately email local journalists and radio hosts so the media, in turn, can blast the word out — coaches, of course, tune into local sports news.
Then, fans publish their opinions online. In the case of BYU’s game against Texas this past Saturday, their comments were at times hilarious, at times met with great resistance from other board members.
While browsing through the comments on last Saturday’s game, I observed comments from irritable fans pushed to the edge and positive fans hanging on to a thread of hope.
One such comment from a BYU fan praised the improvement of kicker Justin Sorenson, but another subsequent comment pointed out the negatives, including his problems with snaps, near misses and the kickoff he sent sailing out of bounds.
Talk about looking for the bad, but by and large, the attitude toward BYU's performance last weekend was overwhelmingly positive.
One fan commented, “I don’t think even my dreams could have been this great.”
Another wrote, “New nickname for Taysom Hill—Chase him Hill.”
Still someone else wrote with clear enthusiasm, “Don’t take any credit for predicting a BYU victory! You got LUCKY!”
Some comments demonstrated Cougar Nation's relief. One fan posted, “Sure is nice to be on the other side of a meltdown this week.”
Another fan showed his knowledge of the sports writers in the area, commenting, “I wonder what Gordon Monson is writing right now BYU passing stinks?”
When speaking of BYU’s up tempo offense, one fan posed the question, “A BYU offense with a pulse?”
Another said, “My Dad: Taysom Hill might be the Jimmer of BYU football.”
In playful disagreement, a fellow commenter offered his view: “Jimmer had a better 3 pt % than Taysom does a completion %”.
Confidence seems to wane and strengthen from minute to minute with BYU fans. But as you can imagine, the Texas fans weren’t much different.
Texas football is immortalized by tradition, talent, and success. Other than Alabama, LSU, and Oregon, there are very few programs who have matched the Longhorns’ success.
But after the Longhorns fired defensive coordiator Manny Diaz — a direct result of the whipping BYU administered — many Texas fans were left wondering what had become of their program. Like BYU fans, they published their frustrations online for the whole world to see.
While BYU fans scribbled out a mix of anxiety, excitement, frustration and relief on fan boards during Saturday’s game, Texas fans expressed downright shock and anger at the way their players performed
One commenter said, “We either ran into the teeth of a defense that we KNEW was strong in the middle or made attempts over the top .. Talk about banging your head against a brick wall over and over and over and over . and infinitum ”
Another fan spoke his mind about Texas' coaches, writing, “Fire every single one of them. Every single one. Including all of Mack’s supporters in the athletic department.”
Of course the Texas faithful were hopeful before the game, but hope quickly turned to panic as they painfully watched Taysom Hill scamper across the field.
The Burnt Orange Nation comment board was awash in comments discussing everything from reasons why Mack Brown should be fired to the need for a complete staff and player personnel overhaul. Somewhere in the middle, Texas fans found time to talk about tuning into volleyball early and leaving the football team to fend for itself without support for the rest of the season.
One commenter wrote, “Our beloved program has become a CORPORATION. Full of fat and complacent fat cats and groupies all feeding from the same financial bowl more worried about TV network deals and business than the true spirit of college athletics.”
This was perhaps the best comment of all: “The volleyball team hits harder than the football team.”
It’s true BYU and Texas fans aren’t likely to forget the experience of going online and venting their true feelings before, during, and after Saturday’s game, and thanks to the permanence of the Internet, we likely won’t forget either.
Kyle Hunt provides analysis for the Deseret News' BYU sports coverage. He is also a contributor for the ESPN True Hoop Network site Salt City Hoops. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.