Utah State Fans: I love you, man!

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

I've never said a bad thing about Utah State and its athletic programs. Why do its fans seem to want to make me?

This post was published on Oct 5, 2012 and is placed again in the layout prior to BYU hosting Utah State in basketball on Feb 19, 2013.

Shortly after Zach and I took over as managing editors of this site, I had an odd experience with somebody on Twitter. This somebody was a Utah State fan who I followed. He followed me, too, at a non-BYU sports account Zach and I have curated for several years which has about 3,000 followers.

I used that account to try and kick-start our work here at Vanquish The Foe with a few strategic retweets. We weren't starting from scratch here, but it felt close. The Twitter account had around 350 followers despite two years of existence, and the site sat virtually dormant during the 2011 football season. The managing editor went MIA and to this day, neither the current or previous VTF staffs have heard from him since.

Upon RT-ing a few of our first VTF stories using the other college sports account, said Utah State fan tweeted something like the following:

"Have to unfollow @[username] for its sudden love-fest for BYU and that Vanquish The Foe site"
"And Rise & Shout Podcast? Sounds totally zoob, like some primary song or something. #unfollowed"

I responded to him by explaining that we ran both sites now, just took over the BYU site, and were just trying to get the word out on day one. He never replied or re-followed.

I don't intend to use this article to complain about a time when someone had the gall to unfollow me -- though I do think the practice of tweeting "unfollowing @[username] now because ......" when you unfollow someone is entirely stupid. And I will try not to make this into a Gordon Monson column, where I focus in on one solitary act and overblow it.

But it caught me off guard because we had used that other college sports site and Twitter account to talk about anyone and everyone out West. Tweets and articles about Utah, Boise State, UNLV, San Diego State, Nevada, Fresno State, and more never caused this Aggie to unfollow. Using that same Twitter account in the months previous to this, I had personally gushed over Chuckie Keeton (many times) and cheered Utah State as it qualified for a bowl game.

But just a few BYU tweets, which still fell under the stated purview of the account "college sports in the West," and this Utah State fan was out quicker than the Aggies in the NCAA tournament.

This came not long after Utah State fans heckled reinstated BYU center Brandon Davies with crass, crude, and vile taunts -- which included not-subtle insinuations that he was a rapist -- when the Cougars opened their hoops season in Logan in 2011. Ironically, it's no stretch to say that most of the fans making those taunts likely share Davies' religion.

I've referenced this before, but remember in 2008 when the Aggies scored a second fourth-quarter touchdown at home against BYU and bedlam broke loose across Logan .... when the touchdown made the score 34-14? And Utah State fans rained down chants of "overrated" on a team to which they were still losing by three touchdowns? That bizarre display gave the impression that Utah State fans thirst so bad for any reason to mock BYU.

This summer, I departed a camping trip from Logan Canyon by myself to return home for work. Sporting a BYU hat, I stopped in a gas station, a grocery store, and a fast-food establishment before leaving Logan. Surprisingly, I was taunted (though not in any way crude) at all three places. While the words themselves weren't really cutting, the derision was evident.

I've been around sports long enough to know the difference between a playful jab and a serious mock between fans. And this was mostly serious -- I got the impression the people who spoke to me honestly thought less of me as a person due to a logo on my hat.

The way I've seen Utah State fans act toward BYU as a school and its players, students, and fans, puzzles me. This all crossed my mind again this week as I've seen asinine BYU hate tweets get RT'd into my timeline. The stereotypical dogma is stunning.

I don't get it. I say this pretty much as an outsider, having lived neither in Logan or Provo or anywhere that can be considered in close proximity, and having attended neither school. I honestly don't get it, especially for fans of my generation.

This isn't to say BYU fans don't return the favor. I know they do. The problem is, we all look stupid for it. The people at the gas station, the store, and the restaurant who cast derision my way are idiots in my eyes, frankly. Why? They went out of their way to get one-over on a complete stranger. It just so happens that complete stranger loves their team's quarterback and coach, roots for the general success of their basketball team, and doesn't hate them in return.

And I think that's the problem: Utes and Aggies assume because I root for BYU, I hate them. So then they hate back. Some don't see a problem in this. I've made it no secret I think true hate in context of sports is troublesome -- that we seek to excuse human indecency because "it's sports man!" says a lot about who we are as people.

So here's a tip, Aggies: After tonight is over, I'm rooting for Charles E. Keeton to lead your team to glory. Try not to convince me otherwise.

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