A decision to place visiting football teams in front of the Aggie student section on the east side of Maverik Stadium sparked some debate this week after fans and players exchanged more than just words at Friday’s BYU-USU game.
There is disagreement over who provoked the incident, but as the clock wound down in the Cougars’ 34-20 win over the Aggies, BYU players could be seen squirting water and Gatorade into the crowd to celebrate their victory as plastic bottles and other debris flew out of the stands.
No one was hurt in the brief exchange, but video and personal accounts of what happened have generated a lot of online chatter, with some observers saying USU should reverse a decision initiated this season by Aggie head coach Blake Anderson with the apparent intent of putting pressure on visiting teams.
“I guess I like tradition and the tradition has been home team in front of our students. … Why give the opposing team more motivation by having our students yell at them?” said lifelong Aggie fan Alan Rawlins in response to a Herald Journal Facebook post seeking public opinion the issue.
Commenter Doug Larsen argued for keeping the new configuration because staging the home team in front of the season-ticket holders seems to have lit a fire under those typically more sedate fans.
“I’ll speak for having the home team on the west side,” he said. “ It feels like the chair backs (season-ticket holders) have been much louder with the players encouraging fans to get loud on defense. Hopefully we don’t see anything else thrown at a players, but it sounds like it was a minor issue that is being taken care of.”
The fact that a stadium dust-up would occur at a USU-BYU game seems apropos, considering the history of an in-state rivalry known to bring out the rowdy side of fans on both sides and generate a colorful variety of insult signs, especially in the USU student section.
Posting on the website Aggie Fans, one parent of students on the east side Friday described stadium security as on “high alert” and said a guard even took a white board brought by one of his kids for sign-making.
Salt Lake Tribune reporter Norma Gonzales offered this assessment of the Aggie seating arrangement in a Monday column:
“It’s a great strategy against visiting teams, who now have the student section, known as The Hurd, breathing down their backs. There’s not much space separating the sideline from the stands, and the lowest level is just a few feet above the field, making it feel like The Hurd is right on top of the visiting team. That was more than felt on Friday, when BYU went to Maverik Stadium.”
A video of BYU players squirting the boisterous crowd was widely circulated on social media.
“Considering all the crap, some of it extremely offensive, that these childish, ridiculous fans were yelling during this game, a good Gatorade dousing was probably deserved,” wrote Twitter poster Jonathon Floyd.
This view was not shared by other commenters on The Herald Journal Facebook page who touched on one of the common gripes Aggie fans have about BYU fans: a perceived holier-than-thou attitude.
“I’m sure the BYUers will pray about it and let everyone know what the best thing to do is,” HJ commenter Shalane Christensen said.