At a Crossroads

Is anything ever good enough for BYU fans? How fair does the weather have to be in Provo to keep 65,000 spectators happy? Chris Garner tackles these and other questions as he reviews life as a Cougar fan over the last 6 years.

It was 1998, and BYU had just defeated ASU 26-6. It was a game that any normal Cougar fan would be happy about, right? Maybe, but how many normal Cougar fans are there? We had just beat a team from the Pac 10, yet I was not happy. In fact, I was quite upset. I thought the play calling was awful, and I had no issue letting people know it. I got home after the game and wrote a nasty email to Norm Chow telling him exactly how I felt about the game - 26 points? This was BYU, and we had dominated the entire game. Ronney Jenkins had run all over the Sun Devils. Yet when we got in the red zone, I felt Chow always had to make Feterik (his recruit) look good. Needless to say, Jenkins came out of that game with 1 TD and Pochman had 4 field goals. I went on and on about this for more than a page, I even had the nerve to send it. Here I was some washed up high school center, teaching one of the greatest football minds of all time how he should play the game of football.

I have to admit that I would say negative things in the stands about Chow and his play calling. I couldn't wait for him to go. In 1998 both the WAC championship against Air Force and the Liberty Bowl against Tulane were embarrassing to me. I felt our offense was predictable, unexplosive, and that Coach Chow had seen his day. My anger towards him and my desire to see him removed grew day by day. They didn't run the right routes, they were undisciplined, and the team under performed. It continued into 1999 that ended with a 3-21 loss to Marshall in the Motor City Bowl. I could not have been happier when it was announced that Norm Chow was leaving for different pastures.

I wish I could tell you when my thought process changed towards Norm Chow. I am not exactly sure why it changed either. Looking back, I feel like a fool. I am embarrassed that I was part of the lynch mob. I do not want Chow back at BYU now, but not because he can't coach. I think he has proved all of us wrong on that point.

During the 2000 season our offense struggled again. Now the mob was onto a different victim. Reynolds was now the reason for our short comings. I even heard fellow fans say that Lavell Edwards needed to go. I realized during that season that what I had done to Norm Chow was not right. Norm Chow had tried his hardest with the talent he had. He was not trying to lose, he wanted to win more than any fan could ever imagine. Yet the fans had crucified him on the internet, radio, and at the water-cooler. In 2000 the new sacrifice became Reynolds and Edwards. This time I chose not to be part of the lynching party. At each game the booing and moaning made me mad. I was not upset at the team, but I was upset at the fans.

It has been the same ever since. The only thing that has changed is the names on the list: Schmidt, Bosco, Engeman, Mahe, Rykert, Berry, Wilkerson, Reynolds, Bradford, Crowton, and now Mendonhall. The list of people inside BYU's family that have been bad mouthed by Cougar fans is longer than my daughters Christmas list. Over the past 2 years I have tried to find ways support the Cougars more than just attending the games on Saturday. I see it as part of my repentance for the Chow years. I have volunteered with the team by helping the video coach prepare tape, I joined the Cougar Club, I volunteer with the Cougar Club doing video projects for them, and I have created highlight videos to help generate excitement on these boards. By donating more than just my mouth to the Cougars, I have come to understand what is really done behind the scenes for us fans. Much of it goes unappreciated.

I have decided that I will support the team, and everything associated with it, through thick and thin. By doing this, I have been dubbed a "Pro-Crowton". Cougar fans are so fickle, that after posting one of my videos I was told to use a better song. Even my effort to make things better for them could not avoid the scrutiny. I have come to learn over the last 2 years that I love the Cougars but I dislike most of their fans. I was lucky enough not to be born in Utah, but as I live here and see how Cougar fans treat their family, I have decided if I were native of Utah, I would probably despise the Cougs. Not because of their teams, but because of their fans.

So what is the crossroads? Many on this board wonder what the future of BYU athletics will be, who will be the new coach, who will the AD be. I am left wondering if I want to continue associating myself with those that wear blue. Is there any question why Ben Olson would not want to come to BYU? We have badmouthed and booed every young QB since Doman. Before that we hated Feterick. At every game there has been this cloud of negativity over LES, waiting for the team to slip so the crowd could show their displeasure. No wonder we can't win at home. In the closing seconds of the Notre Dame game a guy behind me said, "Well, we embarrassed ourselves again on national TV." Yes, that was a game we won. I have read all year long people for and against Crowton. It is no longer Ute fans versus Cougar fans, but Cougars vs. Cougars. At church on Sunday I was approached to see how I would defend Crowton by fellow Cougar fans. They ripped the team, coaches and program. I did not hear one word from my Ute friends. To be honest, it gets old. Crowton may stay, and Crowton may go, but I feel the negativity that our fans represent will not change. A new regime may bring in different names, but it won't take the mob long to learn them. If Crowton stays, I will support him. If a new coach is named I will support him. I will try and do it on my own, without associating with the negative fans that have surrounded this program. For those that have been positive supporters of BYU I apologize for my generalization of Cougar fans above. I just get sick of the self proclaimed right of fans to forget all rules of human decency.

I wonder who the coach will be next year; I also wonder who would want the job. I wouldn't wish our fans on our fiercest rival.

Go Cougars! Support your Team!

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