It is a sordid tale of sex and obscenity so strong as to shock the senses. Not really. But if it is to be believed --the Utah State Aggies, a mid-major basketball power, recently won a game because of student fans and lost a game because of stupid Administrators. While this tale has some unique Utah elements, I think some of the lessons apply to UCLA's AD Chianti Dan and company who make brilliant maneuvers like having UCLA play its basketball games at the home of its rival USC. First off the Aggies beat in state rival BYU for Utah bragging rights 69-62 at home:
The Aggies have now won 32 straight home games -- the third-longest active home winning streak in the nation behind Duke (36) and Kentucky (34).
The win avenges a 78-72 loss last November in Provo.
Utah State is a good team, but the reason they won was the crowd:
During every possession, Aggie supporters held up signs mocking Brandon Davies for being Brandon Davies while they recited chant after ear-splitting, methodical chant at the tops of their lungs.
In all honesty, it might have been the fans who turned a close game with about 10 minutes to go, into a Utah State blowout.
"It [Smith Spectrum] is a tough place to come in and win,. . .," said BYU head coach Dave Rose.
How and why did the students mock Davies for being Davies?
Last season Brandon Davies was suspended from the team for having sex. With a girl. For the uninitiated, BYU is a private school that espouses an Honor Code that forbids -- among other things and on pain of punitive academic measures -- unwed sexual relations.
USU students, during their most recent matchup with the Cougars, focused their taunts on this specific aspect of the BYU men's basketball team, chanting things like "Pull Out Davies" while the player was shooting free-throws. A host of BYU fans -- and some Aggies, shame on you 2011-2012 Statesman Staff -- cried foul, leading to the aforementioned institutionalized apology.
The most common defense I'm hearing from the Cross the Line school is something along the lines of "It's inappropriate to directly and personally attack a player" and more specifically "for doing something that is done in universities across the country." By that they mean, having sex. There's also the cries of "lewdness" and "vulgarity" which, let's face it Utahns, telling a man that's had sex that he's had sex is hardly lewd, much like how it's no insult to say that a dead man...is dead.
The Utah State President and Athletic Director reacted by apologizing to BYU for its fans in a letter that was emailed to all students, excerpted below and emphasis mine:
We were disappointed and disturbed, however, during the recent basketball game against BYU. Some fans chose to conduct themselves in ways that went far beyond mere school rivalry, fair play and - most importantly - basic human decency.
But Utah State did not stop with admonishing students. They took the next step and at a later game said students could not boo, hiss, bring signs, etc. The result:
Even though the better part of a month has passed since then, the Spectrum student section decided to formally protest being apologized for with three minutes of silence during the game against Denver Wednesday
If anyone wanted to find out what a quiet Spectrum sounded like, they got their wish. Partially due to the silence, the third-longest home winning streak in the nation was ended by a score of 67-54.
Senior point guard Brockeith Pane said the crowd's vocal absence was definitely noticeable.
"Not having the crowds kind of hurt us," he said. "We didn't have our sixth man."
Now Utah State is blaming the loss on one usher.
Going into the Denver game, Utah State students were already angered over a public letter of apology from USU President Stan Albrecht to BYU for what some perceived was the student section's over-the-top treatment of Cougars star Brandon Davies when BYU visited the Spectrum on Nov. 11. Davies was suspended last season for violating BYU's Honor Code. He was reinstated before the start of the season.
When students arrived for Wednesday's game, they were met by an usher who imposed restrictions on even some of their most basic ritual cheers, threatening them with ejection and revocation of their student IDs at the slightest misstep.
Many students left the game. The ones who stayed sat silently for the first three minutes, and when they did get involved, it wasn't with anywhere near the emotion and intensity the Spectrum student section has become famous for.
So in a nutshell, the students helped their team beat their arch-rival with colorful but non -threatening chants. The AD, President and other officials overreacted and as a result took the students out of the game. The result Utah State's 33 game home win streak was broken to a team not nearly as good as the team they beat that caused the "problem."
Applying this to Chianti Dan and UCLA. Well let's see we can't play in Pauley Pavilion this year so where do we end up? A "road" show with most of the games at a decrepit old arena that is so bad our arch-rival and football only school USC won't play in it. The place is far enough away with traffic that it makes it tough for students to get there especially for games scheduled during or around finals. Further, as BruinsNation documented school officials also tried to screw the student section at the new Pauley.
To Coach Ben Howland's credit he said that he would visit the frats and sororities and is going the extra mile to get students to come. Too bad others such as the Morgan Center and Chianti Dan at UCLA don't want to help, because the fact of the matter is student sections can win, and lose games.