This weekend, the BYU Cougars will face instate rival Utah State for the Cougars’ second home game of the season. The team is pleading with the fans to participate in Saturday’s “white out” to show more unity and add to the intimidation factor in LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“I tell you what,” said BYU outside linebacker Bryan Kehl, “one of the most impressive things I’ve seen as a football player was walking out in pre-game warm-ups at Arizona an hour before the game started to see a sea of red filtering in to take their seats. There were so many people there, and they all had their red shirts on. It was impressive. The student body that was there wasn’t the most clean in terms of language, demeanor and drink, but they were there heckling us with their red shirts on. It was impressive and they were there the entire game yelling with their red shirts on.”
“When we went to Arizona, the crowd was red,” said safety Quinn Gooch. “In the student section, not one single person was wearing anything else but an Arizona red T-shirt. That was it, it was completely red.”
“We got to Arizona early and I went out there just to throw the ball around about an hour early or so before the game,” said receiver Zac Collie. “They had the student body there already cheering. We’re talking about an hour before the game and you’ve got everyone there in red cheering on Arizona and booing us. I’m sure it was encouraging for the Wildcats to see that and it would be for us here at LaVell Edwards Stadium.”
Three weeks later, the Cougars saw the fan base of another opponent wearing their team colors filling the stadium when they traveled to face the Golden Eagles of Boston College.
“At Boston College last week, it wasn’t quite as much [as Arizona,] but there was still a sea of yellow,” Kehl said. “That was also quite impressive to see. The thing is, our fans are the greatest in regards to support and our stadium is far louder than those other two, but we need that sea of blue and we need that sea of white.”
LaVell Edward Stadium already has a reputation for its beauty, fan courtesy, and its loudness, but unlike many of the major programs across the country, it is missing a concentration of team colors.
“We’ve got too much Skittle action going on out there in the stands,” laughed Kehl.
So why does BYU with its rich tradition and large fan base, struggle to show up like those of other top quality programs? The answer to that question has eluded die-hard fans and BYU administrators for some time, but the players have a good theory about the fans’ apparel apathy.
“No one is trying to look good for their girlfriend or trying to get a date at Arizona or at Boston College,” said Gooch with a smile. “We’ve got girls coming out here and they’re all decked out in their fashion glasses, but no one cares about that. No one cares what you looked like because everyone is interested in the game. We have a good fan base and have a lot of supporters. A lot of people support BYU, but it’s really important for us as a team to look up to see that unification of the crowd. It would be great to know that the crowd was unified with us as a team by seeing a sea of blue or a sea of white.”
Gooch is not the only player who believes that some BYU fans’ vain fixation with fine-twined linens is responsible for the rainbow of colors filling the stands. Kehl and Collie also think that many home game attendees are concerned more wearing clothes to look good for other fans, than wearing blue to support their team.
“People come out to the games and they’ve got their nice fashion shirts on looking for girls,” chuckled Kehl. “Then we have girls coming out all dressed up out there in the stands, but this is a football game and not prom night. We need the fans to come out there with the intent of being a part of a football game. That means wearing blue or white.”
“We’re not here to entertain a prom date, we need to get rowdy,” Collie said. “We need everyone to get into [opponents’] faces with our team colors on and cheer us on so that we can run the table.”
BYU fans have an opportunity each week to visually demonstrate their unity and to let the visiting team know that they are in enemy territory. Cougar supporters, however, have not seized that opportunity. Visitors are hard-pressed to identify their host based on the colors in the stands.
“I love watching Tennessee games,” said inside linebacker Cameron Jensen. “When you see the Tennessee stadium, that thing is ridiculous because you just see all orange and that is awesome. If it were LaVell Edwards Stadium and everyone was wearing all blue, wow, that would be amazing as well as intimidating. It’s intimidating seeing the fan base all wearing one color in show of support on top of the cheering and the noise. Just to see LaVell Edward Stadium in all blue or white just once would be just amazing.”
A blue stadium would not only be intimidating for opponents, it would also inspire the home team to play with greater emotion.
“As a team it’s also motivating,” said Jensen. “I mean we would come out of the tunnel to see a sea of blue. We would see all these fans that actually took the time to put on a blue shirt in support of the team. It would not only motivate us but it would also intimidate the opposing team. Our fans are great and their loud, but just having the color blue or white – depending on what was decided – that would be awesome.”
“As players, we like to have as much support as possible, and besides it just makes the game experience all the more sweeter for everyone,” said Collie. “When we’re on offense it’s important that the fans quiet down so that the quarterback and the center can hear one another. When our team is on defense, it’s important for our fans to be as loud as possible to the opposing offense has trouble hearing one another.
“To have it be that way with the crowd wearing all blue or all white, now that’s intimidating. For an opposing team to come into this stadium to see 65,000 fans screaming and wearing all white would be so intimidating, and that works to our advantage. We should never lose a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. The Seattle Seahawks in the NFL or Texas [A&M] have what is called the ‘12th Man’ which is the crowd. We have great fans at BYU but we need to really have a visual presence of the ‘12th Man’ at LaVell Edwards Stadium. For this weekend, everyone wear white shirts.”
Because BYU and Utah State have similar colors, fans conceived the idea of having the home crowd wear white so that they will stand out from the visiting Aggie supporters. Ever since BYU changed from royal blue to navy and white, Utah State fans have complained that the Cougars stole their colors. Saturday’s so-called “White Out” is a way for Cougar fans to tell the Aggies, “You can have your color for a day; we’ll take the win!”
The athletic marketing staff and the BYU Bookstore got onboard with the white out campaign about two weeks ago. The bookstore will sell $5 white t-shirts so that the fans will be able to support their team at little expense.
The Cougar football team has been asking fans to wear blue since the season began, but for this one game, they hope to see a different shade in the stands.
“I hope everyone comes to the game wearing white and nothing else,” said Gooch. “It’s a white out so wear white. When their offense has the ball yell like crazy, and when our offense has the ball, try not to yell too much. That’s all you have to remember, but wear white this weekend.”
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