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October 1, 2010

Of fans, proxys, and Pearsons

After being flipped off, yelled at, cursed at, hit with popcorn, and having my church ridiculed, I realized I had put myself in a slightly precarious situation.

The elements of a precarious situation:

1) I was attending the BYU-Utah State football game in Logan.
2) I was sitting on the third row in the USU student section.
3) I was cheering maniacally for the Cougars.

Thus the intense anger of the crowd wasn't unexpected.

The unexpected  part was that there was a crowd.

You see, the one finger salute, the popcorn shower, and the assault of the four-letter words didn't come until 13 minutes were left in the fourth quarter, when USU scored its first points of the game. Prior to that moment, BYU was in the middle of a 34 to 0 shutout. The fans should have long retreated, assured of another embarrassing loss. Really, who sticks around to see their team get humiliated by their "rival"? The Aggies were down five scores with less than a quarter to play! But when Robert Turban scored those first points for the Aggies, the still-filled stadium erupted as though Merlin Olsen had descended from the heavens to take the field. I've never experienced anything like it. Throughout the whole fourth quarter the crowd was on their feet, delirious. This despite the fact that the team they were cheering for was getting their balls handed to them!

"There was a lot of energy in that crowd," said USU head coach Brent Guy. "I wish our stadium could be like that every week."

Good luck with that. The only way that wish will be granted is if BYU comes to town every Saturday. They're the only team that can inspire such hatred and crowd intensity, regardless the score.

Still, that particular group of USU fans/BYU haters displayed more bizarre pride in their team than perhaps any sports crowd ever has.

Keep in mind bizarre doesn't necessarily mean intelligent.

Down 34 to 7, the crowd began to scream, "over-rated, over-rated", in one of the more mystifying moments in fan history. Understand that:

a)  BYU had scored 24 points in the first quarter before letting off the gas.
b)  Utah State had gone 47 minutes of game time without scoring a point prior to Turban's touchdown.
c)  Utah State was trailing by 27 points with 13 minutes left in the game.

And the crowd was proclaiming BYU's team overrated.

Mocking aside, the truth is that crowd deserves recognition for creating a remarkable atmosphere that night two years ago. It's an atmosphere that I'm excited to experience again this Friday. The Aggie football team will play like men bent on ruining conference weekend, and the crowd will back them up with as much ferocity and loyalty as they can muster.

May the proxy magic be with us again this year

Meanwhile I will do my part by running proxy plays in USU's stadium the day before the game. The last time BYU visited Logan Brian Henderson, Ryan the Pearson, Brooke Deem, and yours truly prepared the field by running plays in the Cougars name about 20 hours prior to kickoff. On the very turf that BYU would dominate the next day, Max Hall (Brian) completed touchdown passes to Austin Collie (me) while Harvey Unga (Brooke) rumbled into the end-zone for multiple scores. One of the proxy plays we ran was a lengthy fumble return for touchdown by cornerback Brandon Howard. In the actual game, Brandon Bradley (the other cornerback) returned a fumble for a 38-yard touchdown. Coincidence? I think not.

Hopefully the proxy efforts will be the forerunner to a resounding BYU performance, leaving the USU fans with nothing to cheer about.

Then again, if being up 34-7 with 10 minutes left in the game can't shut a crowd up, I'm not sure what will.

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