Cheer team on ?til the end of the game

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

Someone asked me what my first thought was when Oregon State scored a touchdown to put the Beavers up 28-20 with two minutes 11 seconds left in the game. To quote my inner monologue verbatim, “Shit, now nobody is going to go to Laramie.”

Happily, I’ll never know the answer to that question, thanks to Brian Johnson’s sudden shift into near-perfection and the always reliable Louie Sakoda and his golden boot.

My first reaction begs the question, “Have Utah fans become better at supporting the team?”

Understandably, my feelings are mixed.

First off, I’d like to give the MUSS its due props. That third-down jumping thing struck me as a potential “Brady Bunch” gimmick at the beginning, but I’ll admit, the initiative looks cooler than you could possibly imagine from both field level and the press box. I give my stamp of approval for introducing something unique to our game-day ambience, as if the folks who introduced that tradition needed that anyway. I also give the MUSS props for its “Braveheart”-like “steady, steady, hold, hold” stance when things seemed in doubt. I have no doubt the MUSS would have made the drive to Laramie, Wyo., this week no matter what loss or snowstorm threatened to spoil the trip.

As for the rest of the members of the third-largest crowd in Rice-Eccles Stadium history8212;props for buying up more season tickets than ever before8212;do your football team two favors: Get to your seats before the first quarter is nearly half over and stay until after your team sings the last “Utah Man.”

I don’t think there is any excuse to leave a football game early. I don’t care if you’ve got little ones who are up past their bedtime, or the walk to the golf course parking lot means you’re going to miss your hot mug of Pero with the evening news. It’s absolutely despicable to leave when the team is down by just one score, no matter how unrealistic that miracle might be.

You can live an entire lifetime and never see what Utah did Thursday night again. Is an extra five-minute head start to your car really worth it? Do you want to deal with the shame on your child’s face when he or she looks into you eyes, thinking, “Yeah, my dad is one of those guys.” You don’t want to live with that kind of lifelong shame. Who knows, it might eventually result in your kid being on “Sally Jessy Raphael,” or a future episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” titled “My parents ruined my once-in-a-lifetime sports moment.”

On a serious note, that last-one-to-your-car-is-a-rotten-egg mentality is like eating Thanksgiving dinner and skipping the pumpkin pie. It’s like eating the crust around peanut butter and raspberry jam toast and throwing away the middle.

It also reinforces my opinion that fans live and die with the Bowl Championship Series dream every year.

I sincerely hope Utah doesn’t even give its fans a chance to show who’s on the bandwagon and who’s in it for the long haul. I hope Utah goes 12-0, gets a berth to a BCS bowl and hides all you fakers.

If for some reason that doesn’t happen, my even bigger hope is that I’m proven wrong and people are here for pure love of the U rather than the appeal of being part of a one-year dream. After all, that’s what has separated fans from BCS and non-BCS schools in the past.

And if our team is going to play as if it deserves to be in the BCS, Utah’s fans should be held to the same standard.

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