Adorned in red from head to toe — literally, her toes are always painted red, she wears red dangling earrings and even has a red block U tattooed on the back of her left shoulder that says “Crazy Lady” in Chinese — Terri Jackson embraces the persona of Crazy Lady in all walks of life.
Jackson, better known as the Crazy Lady, is Utah’s biggest fan. The 67-year-old has been joining The MUSS for over 10 years to lead the student section in a dance which used to be right in between the third and fourth quarters, but has recently been moved to before second half kickoff.
When she shows up anywhere, fans spot her by her notable silver-white short hair which Jackson coins “color by God.” Even as she walks the Utah campus, students notice her and shout “Crazy Lady!” and she thrives off of that energy, much like she does when she stands at the head of The MUSS.
“It gives me goosebumps,” Jackson said. “I try and hug as many people as I can. … After [the dance] I go up and down the rows because I love to meet people. … I am so honored, I am so blessed.”
That fandom Jackson created didn’t start until she was out of college. Jackson graduated from the U in 1976, and since she was paying for her tuition, she loaded up on classes, had a part time job and even lived at home with her parents. She didn’t have much time to attend sporting events aside from a couple of basketball games.
Once she married her husband, Scott, who she often calls her “cute husband,” she started to get into sports because he used to work as a sports producer for a TV station. She and her kids attended games at first just to see Scott in action, then as Scott switched career paths and started to attend games with the family, Jackson was able to learn more about the ins and outs of football.
Before she was crowned Crazy Lady, another woman, Bubbles, garnered the attention of the crowd with her notable shimmy. Then at some point in the ‘90s, she stopped attending games, and there was a vacancy for a new superfan.
As the marching band would make its way through the tailgating lots, band members encouraged fans to join in a dance-off, and Jackson being the outgoing person she is, immediately found herself in the middle of the commotion. Three games in, she was the only one left standing, to which Jackson jokingly credits to her intimidating stature or her top-notch dance moves. It was at Utah State where she was really thrown into the spotlight. The band leader approached Jackson after she had done her routine pregame dance and asked if she wanted to dance in front of the band during the actual game.
“My friends went, ‘You’re going to go dance in front of 40,000 people?’ And I went ‘Uh-huh,’” Jackson said with nothing but assurance in her voice.
By the time 2003 rolled around, she was given the title of Crazy Lady, and Jackson wears that title proudly, embroidered across the back of her five or six Utah football jerseys. And Jackson wouldn’t be the Crazy Lady if she didn’t have any gameday superstitions. She has to wear her red ping pong ball earrings she bought from the bookstore in the ‘80s (a fashion staple she thinks should be brought back). Even though she lost one of the earrings at a bowl game, Jackson has backups. As anyone with gameday superstitions, Jackson does all this to see Utah come out on top.
“Love, love, love to win,” Jackson said. “It’s such a wonderful, glorious walk back to the car.”
Sometimes, it’s a glorious rush to the field.
In 1994, Utah beat BYU 34-31 at home, and Jackson recalls meeting eyes with her daughter, and they immediately “took off running,” leaving her husband and son behind in the stands so they could rush the field to take down the uprights.
Another fond memory she has of the rivalry is when Utah won BYU 54-10 on the road in 2011. The next day, her husband went to go request the numbers “5410” for his license plate. While Jackson cherishes being a part of the crowd, home or away, the family doesn’t often visit Provo — or as her household calls it, “the void.” Jackson prefers to watch those games from home with her entire family.
Of course “the void,” can’t always be avoided. When Jackson’s son and daughter were around the ages of 4 and 5 and they had to travel south, Jackson told her kids that they must hold her their breath and hold up something red.
“My daughter in second grade went down to a dance competition, and it was in Provo and she came to me in tears and said, ‘Mama, I don’t think I can hold my breath that long,’” Jackson said laughing.
That Utah pride is something all her grandkids are familiar with. When Jackson’s grandkids want a red crayon, they don’t say, “Pass me the red crayon.” They say, “Pass me the ‘Utah’ crayon.” And that crimson red is something they always point out to Jackson, mentioning how it’s her favorite color.
When she isn’t leading The MUSS, fans can find Jackson sitting in the same seats she has had ever since the early ‘80s, only now the set of four seats has expanded into 12 as her family has grown.
If Jackson could have a storybook ending and choose where she would spend her final seconds, it would be at the head of The MUSS, her hands up high, ending that famous dance of hers.
“My hope in life is to do the grand finale and this,” Jackson said with her arms raised high in a ‘V’ formation. “And that’s my last breath. Ta-da. And I bet you can guess where my ashes might go?”
All spread across the Utah campus of course.
“[Being the Crazy Lady] means the world to me,” Jackson said. “I almost could get teary-eyed because that’s part of my life. It’s an amazing part that you guys [the fans] created. … I was just having an amazing time. I can’t tell you how much it means.”