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Fans: Where are they?

Staff Commentary

Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 17:02

Rev's Rage

Bill Michielsen | The Beacon

Men’s Basketball Head Coach Eric Reveno questions a call during Saturday’s match with the BYU Cougars. The Cougars made it to the foul line 53 times compared to the Pilot’s paltry 23.

Everybody lost last Saturday. You lost. I lost. The school lost. And we lost even before the final buzzer sounded in the Pilots' 79-60 loss to BYU.

That loss was disappointing, and I mean really disappointing on so many levels.

First, I must concede that I was raised in Salt Lake City, grew up a Utah Ute fan, and thus simply cannot stand the Cougars. The only victory for "The School Down South" I am not envious of is their as expected, "Driest Campus in the Country Award."

But what happened was a damn shame. It wasn't the fact that the Pilots had a chance to pull off the upset until about eight minutes left and blew it after a string of turnovers and poor foul shooting. They shot an embarrassing 43 percent from the charity stripe and the 24 turnovers they committed was a season high. Even the officiating, which sent BYU to the line 53 times compared to the Pilots' 23 attempts did not come close to being the reason why Saturday's game was the worst showing I have seen in my three years covering UP's athletics.

Their fans embarrassed you. They embarrassed the community. They were louder, more enthusiastic and there may have been more of them.

According to Ticket Sales Associate Andy Rygg, approximately 740 student tickets were distributed. While I have a feeling only a fraction of that number actually attended, let's pretend they did.

Do you know how much noise 740 students can make? A lot –and Public Safety can't even shut you down!

The most glaring example of apathy came midway through the second half. Freshman Kevin Bailey, our star recruit who sparked a key offensive run and kept the game close, threw up a rushed three-pointer as the shot clock expired and missed the rim badly.

With no hesitation, the BYU faithful, adults and kids alike, erupted into an "Air ball!" chant, which exceeded the three-repetition limit, simply because they knew they could. As expected, the UP student section remained quiet, aside from a few souls who screamed expletives at the BYU crowd. Yeah you tell ‘em guys!

Are you kidding me?

This was your chance to do what every fan wants: have some sort of positive affect on the outcome of the game. Instead you sat idly by, wondering if that guy or girl from your sociology class was going to be at the Dance of the Decades later.

The relationship between the crowd and team in college basketball is a symbiotic one.

"We always hope there will be a level of excitement at the games. That's part of the game, that's one of the great things about college basketball is the atmosphere the fans create," Associate Athletic Director Buzz Stroud said.

Right you are, Buzz. It's why my younger brother and his friends watch YouTube videos of college basketball's great student sections such as the Cameron Crazies of Duke or, dare I say, The Kennel Club of our rivals up north, generating ideas for their own student sections.

That is by far the greatest part.

Yes, a good team brings bigger crowds. But a bigger crowd helps produce a better effort. It is a symbiotic relationship in which both parties can benefit from each other. And while it can be argued that the men's basketball team haven't held up their end of the deal, only winning 30 percent of games, Pilots fans letting opposing teams' fans come into the Chiles Center and embarrass you, the team and the school isn't holding up your end either and it sure does not provide any extra motivation.

Before you continue on to your next class or third chicken wrap of the day, I want to leave you with an image. One so disrespectful I begged my editor to let me write this instead of game coverage.

After the game, as UP players and coaches began wandering out of the locker room, nursing their wounds after their seventh loss in eight games, they could hear cheers and laughs coming from the belly of the arena.

A man with a microphone, which I was told was brought by BYU fans, stood in front of a sea of blue, and ran a Q & A with BYU players. This went on for nearly 40 minutes until Stroud had to ask them to leave.

To be fair, Stroud told me BYU had asked if they could have an area for a "meet and greet" in which fans could talk to the players and autographs could be signed. BYU took full advantage of that gracious accommodation.

But can you blame them? After that showing, they probably felt as if they were entitled to anything.

After interviewing Coach Reveno, I noticed two assistant coaches peering through the glass windows of the door, their faces wrought with anger. One coach looked at the other and said, "Can you believe this sh*t?"

I can't.


Thu Feb 16 2012 13:29
Oh my gosh, I love it! This whole situation cracks me up. I love the comments. I'm sad I missed the game, next year I'm there rallying with the Cougars. Thanks Bruce for putting a huge grin on my face this morning. I love it.
Wed Feb 15 2012 16:38
I don't blame UP fans for being a little peeved. I would be irritated if I attended a home game and felt like a visitor too. Certainly not the fault of the visiting fans, but irritating none the less. Hopefully the visitors were at least courteous. However, I would disagree that it was a loss for everyone. I thought the pilots played very well. I was extremely impressed with their energy and effort, especially on defense. Plus, you are ignoring a very important factor... money. Double the ticket price and double the attendance means that Portland made as much on this one game as 4 or 5 other home games combined. BYU draws a very large national audience which is large conferences like the Big12 and Big East keeping giving them looks and is the primary reason the WCC was interested in them as well. So, I would definitely not call it a total loss.
Mon Feb 13 2012 14:10
I'm a BYU fan and loved the game and the crowd enthusiasm. It is clear that Bruce is criticizing the UP fans for not showing more support, not doing any BYU bashing. I would write the same thing to BYU fans if another team's fans came into the Marriott Center and showed us up. I say BYU fans who are Ute-bashing need to back off. You should be ashamed of yourselves for such an immature response. This was a great article and made some good points about supporting your team.

As far as the post game meeting, UP administration takes the first blame for allowing it to happen on the court. But, personally, I think if BYU Athletics was aware of any ill effect their post-game gathering would have on workers or that it might appear disrespectful to the school, they would have probably gladly moved somewhere else. I was at the BYU-UP game a few years ago, and we gathered after the game on the track under the stands with the players. It wasn't ideal, but I didn't hear any complaints as it was still nice to spend some time with the players. You can't fault teams and fans for wanting to get together, but clearly using the court had some unforeseen consequences. Sorry about that UP.

Mon Feb 13 2012 09:51
The issue isn't of BYU conducting a meet and greet after the game - it's of them conducting it on the court. Sticking around almost an hour after the game, delaying the postgame clean-up of the entire athletic department...on a Saturday night. Most of those folks have had a long day at that point to help make the fan experience more enjoyable from beyond the curtain. So it was inconsiderate for them to stick around so long on a meet and greet that, from my understanding, was filled with miscommunication over BYU's requests.

They could have just as easily done what Gonzaga quietly does and rent space in the commons for a private post game event instead of obnoxiously lingering in Chiles with their own portable PA system, parading each and every player out of the locker room.

So kudos to Tony Ortiz and the operations department for spending an extra hour of their night to clean up after the ungrateful!

Sat Feb 11 2012 19:13
All reason and logic was thrown out the window with the phrase..."grew up a Utah Ute fan, and thus simply cannot stand the Cougars"
Sat Feb 11 2012 18:40
Bruce, just because that team up north sucks this year doesn't mean you have to take it out on BYU. Hope you're enjoying that "strong" Pac 12 basketball schedule. After all, 2-11 is a great conference record.
Sat Feb 11 2012 12:08
I think Portland a class act for allowing BYU fans to stay and greet their team. I look forward to many more competitive games in the future...and maybe a meet and greet or two as well.
Sat Feb 11 2012 03:20
Memo to the dime-story mentality so many (not all) BYU fans are bringing here:

The author is not directing his comments toward you. His audience is UP students and alumni. Not BYU.

UP students and alumni, you'll learn quickly -- if you haven't already -- that there's a unique entitlement trait that many BYU fans have. Their responses here are Exhibit A in that regard.

Sat Feb 11 2012 02:15
Portland Pilot fans are welcome anytime at the Marriott Center. I hope they buy up 70 percent of the of the 23,000 tickets... but everyone knows it won't happen. I'm a Cougar fan and I was at the game in Portland to watch the Cougars and cheer them on. I would be at the game in Spokane when the Cougars play Gonzaga... but there are no tickets available. UP fans have no right to complain... if you don't want the opposing fans in your arena... buy the tickets and support your own team.

UP coaches upset about the fan support of the opposing team? It's called "little brother syndrome"... and the writer, a Ute fan, knows all about it and can't stand seeing the Cougars from Provo jump back into his life. We'll be back next year. As far as the UP basketball team... they fought hard and they show potential to be a good team and be competitive again with the top teams in the conference. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Pilots pull off an upset in the conference tournament.

Sat Feb 11 2012 01:58
Bruce -- You might want to check out the WCC's TV ads emphasizing sportsmanship. U of P demonstrated sportsmanship in allowing BYU fans in the NW to remain and meet/greet the players. If U of P or any other WCC made a similar request after their game in Provo, it would be granted.

Showing sportsmanship to the fans of an opponent does not make U of P admin. losers, it shows that they understand that the WCC's emphasis on sportsmanship has meaning.

As a long time BYU fan, I love the style and the coaching of basketball in the WCC. The whole country knows about how good Gonzaga has been and how good St Mary's has become, but there are a lot of other good teams who get ZERO national exposure.

Now, because of BYUtv, every WCC team gets broadcast to 55 MILLION homes in the USA, and millions across the world. The WCC already has some teams with excellent international players. Rather than piss and moan about U of P showing good sportsmanship to a large NW fan base loyal to the Cougs, why not take a larger view and realize that national/worldwide exposure on BYUtv twice a year will undoubtedly result in some outstanding players from around the country, or from international TV markets, seeing and liking the kind of BB played by U of P or another WCC team, see how well the WCC's international players are already doing, and boost the international flow of talented play to U of P and other WCC teams.

This kind of cooperation is called WIN WIN WIN. Your article reeks of LOSE LOSE LOSE.?

Sat Feb 11 2012 01:48
Classy for the administration to allow for the meet and greet. The coaches should focus on the players and their game, not post-game activities. Sounds like the assistant coaches need some coaching.
Sat Feb 11 2012 01:16
Hey Bruce, good thing you're not a devoted English Premier (soccer) Football fan. Part of the romance of that incredible sports league are the dedicated traveling fans that do everything in their power to arrive early at their competitor's venue, chant and sing the loudest and stay after to sing some more to rub salt in their rival's defeated wounds. It's wonderful. Grow up dude. Grow up.
Sat Feb 11 2012 00:50
Pilots administration and fans were gracious. Pilots will be good soon. I hoped BYU got away from Utah Ute bigotry when they left the MWC. I guess not.
Sat Feb 11 2012 00:29
Like most UofU Puke fans, Bruce demonstrates both his hypocrisy, but his ignorance as well.

First, the fans from BYU did not disrespect any player for UP, the program, the coaches or the fans. They did what most self-respecting fans do (except Utah pUke fans)...cheer for their team.

Second, BYU security and Provo police tried for over 30 minutes, trying hard to not arrest a pUke fan, to clear LES Stadium in November of 2007 when Utah pUke fans and band played the Utah pUke fight song over and over again while BYU was trying to honor their departing Senior players. The worst, by expoential numbers, showing of poor disgusting sportsmanship, ever shown in a College football stadium.

So much for the value of your opinion Bruce. Why not take your hypocrisy to the LA Times? I understand they have political writers who are as hypocritical as you.

Fri Feb 10 2012 22:48
I agree. I would have been ticked off if BYU allowed a meet and great at the Marriott Center in Provo. When I heard what Portland allowed I could not believe it. For the BYU fans, why not. For the Portland administration WHAT WERE THEY THINKING! It was absolutely the wrong choice. Love you Cougars! Portland, think about a new adminstration....I was stunned.
Fri Feb 10 2012 22:14
Loved the article Bruce! Thank you for being such an amazing author and telling it like it is. BYU fans walk all over other schools because yes, they are a bigger school and have more fans. Why do they want to be in the WCC anyway? Congratulations! A school with 34,000 students beat a school with 3,600 students. They must be proud!
Fri Feb 10 2012 21:24
Cry me a red river Bruce.
Portland Native
Fri Feb 10 2012 20:34
The meet and greet was not about disrespecting the Pilots. It was about BYU fans interacting with a team that they have rarely seen in the PNW. I was in attendance, and there was no disrespect directed to the University of Portland, it's fans, or the team. I am guessing that the UP coaches refer to the support of BYU's basketball program as "sh*t" because they aren't used to receiving that same level of support. That speaks more to the UP fan support than anything else.
Fri Feb 10 2012 20:02
Cry me a river! BYU fans stuck around after the game to continue what they did during the game: support their team. There was no disrespect to UP. Permission was asked for. If it hadn't been granted, the post-game meet and greet wouldn't have happened.

So let's just rehash, shall we? BYU plays b-ball for first time at UP. BYU has lots of alumni in Pacific NW. BYU knows that said BYU alumni and other fans will come to the game. BYU knows that fans like to meet the team after road games whether it's Virginia, Iowa, or Oregon. BYU asks permission from UP Athletic Officials to hold post game meet and greet with fans. UP Athletic Officials grant permission and rightfully up ticket prices. BYU fans shockingly stay afterwards to meet with BYU team. No one disparages UP. No one tears down a respected host and conference mate. Fans shockingly enjoy time meeting and associating with the BYU coaches and players. And the UP assistants get all pissed?

Wow. Boo [bleeping] hoo.

Fri Feb 10 2012 19:57
Another Ute rears his jealous head. BYU will always have huge fan support on the road and they've earned it. 7 consecutive 20+ win seasons in 7 years under Dave Rose. BYU may drop a game here or there but in every sport, BYU competes and is a proven winner. That's what it takes to earn a national fanbase and passionate fans that will fill an opponent's arena. Instead of complaining about BYU, go out and earn it!

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