My freshman year of college involved hearing about LaVell Edwards (who?) and Cougar Stadium (what's that?) in passing. My All-Sports pass cost pennies and I only used it to watch gymnastics and volleyball. I didn't know any better. Before coming out to BYU, I didn't even know it was a considered a good school (another story for another day). How could I have been expected to appreciate the football legacy that was built around the unsmiling LaVell? Fortunately, as Cougar Stadium was transformed into LaVell Edwards Stadium, my slumbering mind was awakened forever to BYU football.
So the next season I went to every football game. New coach, high expectations, LaVell's guys. Calls of Luuuuuuuuuuuke! filled the stadium, which I mistook for boos from the fans (for the first half of the season, no less). It was a great year of Luke Staley and Brandon Doman. We (roommates and I) knew a few football players. We beat U of U. We ran out on the field and were crushed by a celebratory crowd. Some ROTC guy bodyslammed a girl trying to get on the field at that same game, which created months of controversial material for the Soap Box. We threw tortillas. I learned every word to that too-high-to-sing beautifully, too-low-to-sing womanly, please-change-the-stinkin'-key-so-we-can-get-through-this-18-minute-long-musical-celebration BYU fight song. Touchdown after touchdown, I would rise and shout and raise my colors high in the blue. I was riding a BYU football high that still grips me every September as the leaves change and the crisp autumn air forces my bare hands into my coat pockets.
And then the Crowton pains set in. The big wins for every other team in the conference. The loss of Ben Olson to UCLA. The scandals. The honor code breaking. The dejection. The only light in this four-season black hole of BYU football was Matt Payne. The tackles, the touchdowns, our best QB (though I suppose he was technically a kicker/punter). Oh Matt Payne, how I could write volumes about you...but I won't for fear that my marriage may dissolve.
You see how it says Love, Matt Payne ? I know, right!
I left Provo after Bronco's first year. Patrick worked in the football weight room, so he was my source of insider info that the players liked him and he would do good things for the team. I didn't want to leave what looked to be a promising era.
Nevertheless, I moved on and so did BYU. Only accustomed to losing seasons, I didn't know what it looked like to actually be ranked! ESPN introduced me to a BYU football team I never knew and I was thrilled to see this new team when they came out to TCU last year. Oh the disappointment! I daresay that game was the most boring I'd ever seen. We were clobbered, and even the TCU fans were yawning. It was Jonas' first introduction to BYU football and I was ashamed. How could I pass on my love of this team to my son? Surely I couldn't brainwash him through T-shirts and caps, could I? Would he ever know of their greatness?
Naturally, if you have ever heard of BYU, you know where this post is going. My heart is still pounding from the excitement of the OU-BYU upset and that durn BYU fight song is running through my head (except for the first two lines--I only know the words and don't know if I've ever actually heard the melody before "We will fight day and night rain or snow")
What a renewal of faith! I jumped in my seat, screamed, laughed, cried, gasped, cheered, tore my hair out, beat my fists in the air, popped my knuckles, bit my fingernails, peed my pants a little. And this was just on the shuttle taking us to the game (where we were the only Cougars).
Upon entering the stadium, I had a little laugh. A friend commented how a reporter mentioned that half the stadium would be bringing coolers full of beer (OU) and the other half would be bringing coolers full of orange juice (BYU). As we walked up to the gate, I saw a small group of guys chugging Sunny D. And wouldn't you know, they were my old college friends Nick and Alex and Reza! I love this small world of ours.
The Sooners were in full force. I imagine this is sort of what a bull feels like when facing a Toreador--everyone rooting against you, yet still feeling like you have a fighting chance.
OU fans are the best. They are gracious and energetic and love their team. Even the day after the loss, there were OU shirts and hats EVERYWHERE. I almost wanted them to win because of their good sportsmanship (almost).
The following photos are pretty representative of how it felt in the stadium. Of the 75,000 in attendance, there were probably right around 70,000 OU fans.
Lonely, lonely Cougars.
The game itself was a battle of defensive lines. Even during the pre-game handshake, neither team was going to let the other cross the line of scrimmage.
During the first half, it just made no sense why we weren't winning. Yes we had a lot of penalties, but the stats were speaking in our favor.
Jonas laid across Patrick's lap and gorged himself on grapes the entire first half. He casually held his hand in the bowl, gut sticking out, until he decided to indulge. The only things missing were the palm fronds.
We ran into Robby and Amber at the game. A very pleasant surprise, indeed!
Patrick always agrees to the obligatory family photo.
This man's shirt was the best halftime show discovery. The band played well (Viva La Vida, even), but who can deny this man his rightful place on my blog? I regret I do not have a better photo. With a body like this, looking good is easy. Amen, brother.
While BYU's defense was holding OU at the 1-yard line, Jonas was snoozing. It took all the strength in my body not to jump up with the rest of the Cougs when they were reduced to a mere field goal.
Wait for it. Wait...
I can't! The electricity in the air is too much!
And there you have it, folks. A big Cougar W! And a single-digit ranking to boot (9th)!
Celebrate good times, c'mon! (does anyone else hear this old Kool and the Gang classic playing on the bagpipes when it runs through your mind? Ten points if you know the reference)
The Y kept flexing his pecs for the camera. Thanks for the show.
I wonder how many blogs will post this same picture with a different couple smiling broadly. Big thanks to these beautiful strangers posing for what may have been the 190th photo op in front of our seats. I look forward to running across your blog eventually.
If you've never seen it, it looks a little something like this:
On the trolley ride home, Jonas passed the time eating. Again. We need to get this kid a hobby.
(And for the little loss...)
My chronic disease was not severe enough to be crowned Ms. Chronic Disease of America (can that really be considered a loss?). Congrats to Ms. Psoriatic Arthritis, though. The steak knife routine made you a shoo-in!
I did receive a consolation prize, however. Heather informed me that my year was the very last to elect a Brotherhood Queen, so I am still reigning. I suppose I just did such a good job, they couldn't part with me. Can't say that I blame them. You may now all resume calling me Queen Jennifer.