"We have the ‘Band of Brothers' as a team, but us defensive seniors wanted to come up with something more personal," said So'oto. "What this means is family comes first. This is something that Andrew Rich, Brian Logan, Brandon Bradley and myself came up with. It's just a way for all of us to really look out for one another and be more supportive no matter what. It doesn't matter who's in on first- or second-team or whatever. It doesn't matter as long as they have that white jersey on. We are family and that's how we're going to be to one another."
"We just wanted to make it more of a real thing," said cornerback Brandon Bradley. "The ‘Band of Brothers' kind of came from the guys up top, and I kind of feel like a lot of players just look at it as just a slogan rather than something real and not how we felt all the time. We didn't want that to be the case so we tried to come up with something more personal and realistic. What we came up with was "Fam First." This was something we wanted to come from on the inside and not because the coaches said or because of how the coaches feel it should be."
So far the slogan has caught on among the Cougar defenders. Freshman safety Jray Galea'i has been fully converted to the concept.
"Vic said, ‘Hey, when somebody makes a play everybody better be jumping.' What it means is if you wear the white defense jersey you're part of our family," said Galea'i. "If you wear the other jersey you better know you better be ready to compete. That's the kind of supportive mentality we're trying to have."
The idea behind the slogan is for the players to view each other as more than just teammates.
"You treat everyone who plays on defense as if he is like your brother," said So'oto. "If you see him doing something stupid, you slap him. If you see your brother doing something good you praise him. We are just taking it to another level."
"Vic gave the perfect example," said field cornerback Brian Logan. "He said, ‘I'm going to treat you as if you are my little brother. If I see you out on the streets doing something wrong, I'm going to pull you by the neck and probably whoop you because you are my brother. I'm going to put you on the straight path basically,' so that's basically what it means. It's [a situation where] we're all just looking out for each other also. I feel like with that saying we're coming closer as a team."
This doesn't mean that the team is abandoning the concept of being a band of brothers, however.
"We just want to let the team know that we are a family," said Logan. "We're a band of brothers, yeah, but we're also a family. It doesn't matter who's in on a play or out on the field playing. It means if you aren't out on the field you're still cheering for your younger or older brother. It doesn't matter who's in. What it comes down to is family first. It's about cheering on our family."
"We still have the band of brother mentality for the whole team, but the "Fam First" slogan is something we as a defense came up with ourselves," Galea'i said. "This is something that we want to add on to the ‘Band of Brothers' and support whoever is out on the field."
The "Fam First"concept has moved from slogan to action. Members of the "Fam First" defense now plan team activities together in an effort to make the concept more of a team reality.
"It's been good and we've been having activities together, and feel that has really helped transfer over onto the field," Bradley said. "We all went out and played laser tag and we have a barbeque coming up this weekend. So there's a couple things we've got coming up to really help us have more fun and build on that brotherhood and family aspect we want here. It's just a way for us to be a little more personal. That's exactly what it is."
"Corby [Eason] was the one that came up with the laser tag the first week, and Corby and Lee [Aguirre] came up with the idea of doing a barbeque this weekend," said Logan. "I came up with the idea of going bowling this next week. We're all kind of competitive, so we'll probably have the rookies versus the more experienced players on the team. Then whoever loses will have to buy the winner on the other team lunch or something like that."
The new slogan isn't simply for the sake of the current players on the team, but for future players as well.
"There are a lot of new faces here on this team," said Logan. "We also have a lot of new guys coming in this August, so we want to establish this type of culture here now so when the new guys come in they will see and learn this is a family environment. We also want to make sure this becomes part of the culture and environment here so it's passed along for future players."
"This is something we want to build for those players coming into the program in the future," said Bradley. "We want to build a family-based culture and atmosphere here so when players come here in the future they can say, ‘Oh, it really is like a family here.' They will then learn and be a part of the culture and it will just keep on going from there."