Playing on the road in college football can be very intimidating. The degree to which any particular game becomes intimidating to the visiting team is based on several factors. These are things like: how good the other team currently is, how rabid their fans are, if it’s a school and stadium with a significant college football pedigree, and if the game may affect your post-season.
Almost all of those things are predetermined, either historically, or at least the week before the game. The one variable that really can be changed or controlled at gametime is the role of the fan.
What is a fan? Most agree that it’s short for fanatic: a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal. Think about when a stadium is just full of people, and when it is is truly full of fans. What’s the difference? EXTREME enthusiasm. A stadium of people at a football game may be indifferent to what’s happening on the field. The person simply shows up, maybe late, finds their seat, and passes the time through chit-chat, texting, or knitting. A fan shows up before kickoff – they’ve probably even been tailgating before-hand. The fan is involved in the action on the field; more than just a spectator, the fan is a participant. The fan knows that he or she can be a factor in the game. The fan stands. The fan is loud. The fan wears the team’s color.
As the visiting team enters the field, they should be greeted by the loudest sea of unified color that they’ve ever experienced. It should make them weak in the knees and wish that they were playing at home instead. How striking is it when you enter a stadium like Sanford Stadium at The University of Georgia? The sea of red swallows you whole, as a testament to the fact that the Bulldogs are ready to do the same.
When visiting teams come to Lavell Edwards Stadium, how do they feel when they enter and see a sight like this? Granted, this may not be at the opening kickoff, but does it matter? There are two glaring problems in the picture. First, there is a huge section of fans missing, in the middle of the stadium! This should be the heart of the fanatic frenzy! There is so little interest apparent in the stands that some spectators might be surprised to find out there’s a game going on.
The second issue is the color, or lack thereof. Sure, navy blue doesn’t stand out as much as royal, but there isn’t enough color anywhere to say one team or another is being supported by the fans. Fans should wear their team colors. BYU fans should wear blue. This diagram shows what the stadium should look like on gameday. Sure, there’s now way to be as solid blue as that, but certainly we can and should do better.
Doesn’t that look great? Combine the blue from the fans with the blue in the endzones and around the Y, and you’ve got something opposing teams will notice. The color in the stands and the loudness of the fans should shock them.
Once you’ve mastered a single color in the stadium, you can move on to a more advanced color scheme. Other stadiums, like Kinnick Stadium of the Iowa Hawkeyes, Bronco Stadium of Boise State, occasionally assign fans colors to wear according to the section they’re sitting in, and they do it! The alternating colors demonstrates further unity of the fans to the team because you see they’re willing to support the team, even if they’re in a section that isn’t their favorite color. The team is more important to them than that. The game means everything to them at that moment. If we as BYU fans can ever master wearing blue, we might be able to try alternating blue and white sections, like this:
The point isn’t to get crazy with colors. It is to show visiting teams that not only is the home team there to crush you, but that there are 65,000+ rabid fans in the stands eager to watch it happen. The fans should be unified with team, and together they can create the kind of intimidation that makes men weak in the knees. I know we’re a long way out, as we have enough trouble getting fans to stay, stand, and wear one color – so for now, let’s just make sure that all Cougars everywhere know that they’re assigned to the BLUE section, that they’re expected to show up early, to be an important part of the game, and to stay through the end.