Unhappy With Your Team? Boo!

FAYETTEVILLE -- The fans had seen enough, and they weren't pleased. So naturally, they started booing.

They let their frustrations be heard during another poor defensive showing. They booed throughout the fourth quarter. And they started chanting for the coach to be fired.

But this scene wasn't limited to Reynolds Razorback Stadium, the site of Arkansas' 42-29 loss to then-No. 21 Kentucky. It also occurred Saturday in Lincoln, Neb.

Who said fans only boo the opposing team?

If things aren't going well in a game, college football coaches can expect to hear it from their season-ticket holders and die-hard supporters.

"You can be booed one minute and then they're cheering the next minute. So it's a part of the game, it's a part of the culture," said Nebraska coach Bill Callahan, whose team was booed throughout an ugly 41-40 win over Ball State.

"It's 2007 and I'm very well aware of the fans and their approach to the game and what they expect."

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt heard from his own disgruntled fan base Saturday night, and he can expect more of the same if the season doesn't improve.

A chorus of boos could be heard early in the second quarter against Kentucky when Nutt decided to punt instead of letting kicker Alex Tejada attempt a 52-yard field goal. The boos grew even louder at the end of the first half, with the Razorbacks leading 20-14.

And Arkansas fans were at their loudest when Nutt, his assistant coaches and his players walked off the field following the loss, their second in as many weeks.

Nutt admitted after the game that he heard the boos. They didn't go unnoticed by Kentucky coach Rich Brooks, either.

"Oh, I heard them during the game," Brooks said. "It's not too hard to hear it when it's going on."

Brooks is well aware of what it's like to be booed by his own fans. It's happened to him plenty of times during his rocky five-year tenure with the Wildcats.

"I'm an old-school guy, so I understand booing in the NFL," said Brooks, who coached the St. Louis Rams from 1995-96. "But I've always felt that it's probably not appropriate to boo in college.

"But in recent years, it's become an instant phenomenon, if you will. As soon as people are not happy with what's going on, they boo."

The consensus among college football coaches is that fans should direct their complaints toward the coaches, not the players. But sometimes it's hard to tell who's actually getting booed.

Arkansas fans have gone on Internet message boards and sports talk radio shows over the past few days and insisted that they were taking their frustration out solely on Nutt and his coaching staff.

Of course, players can get caught in the crossfire.

"To go out there and get booed by your fans is real hard, because you try to go out there and do everything you can for them and try to make them happy," Arkansas running back Darren McFadden said.

"But hey, that's how the game goes. It's just something we put behind us and keep on moving."

Nebraska fans, often referred to as "the greatest fans in college football," booed their Cornhuskers during Saturday's sloppy win over Ball State.

At one point in the first half, the student section in Memorial Stadium started a chant of "Fire Cosgrove," referring to Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove.

After the game, Nebraska linebacker Steve Octavien shot back at fans, saying that they "don't have to come and watch the game" if they didn't like it. He apologized Tuesday for his remarks.

Callahan said he has learned to block out the boos. After all, he spent two seasons coaching the Oakland Raiders, whose fans are some of the most passionate and toughest to please in professional sports.

"I don't think anybody likes to be booed," Callahan said. "But you've got to deal with it, and the way I deal with it is just maintaining my focus."

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said he disagrees with the argument that fans should be allowed to boo all they want since they bought a ticket to the game.

"I just think at some point we have to have a little poise, and at some point we have to have a little class and remember what the whole thing is about," Hawkins said.

"It's probably just the nature of the whole beast."

Of course, some fans might boo Hawkins' comment. Welcome to college football.

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