On November 30, 2013, Tyler Haws was shooting free throws to ice the game away. After battling it out on the floor at Energy Solutions Arena, the Cougars were about to pick up an important 85-74 victory over rival Utah State. With the game in hand, the BYU student section took the opportunity to rub salt in the wounds with a "Just like football!" chant. In a moment of vulnerability, the Utah State students countered in a totally bizarre way.
"Come to Logan!" It sounded like this.
This was strange, simply because the chant itself was motivated by poor assumptions.
Here's the deal. Utah State fans claim that Dave Rose is a coward who is afraid to play at The Spectrum in Logan. This sentiment comes from comments made by Utah State coach Stew Morrill. Rose and Morrill have collided in the past concerning scheduling. At one point, the series between the two schools almost came to a halt.
The chant shows the absolute buy-in to Stew Morrill's philosophy by Aggie fans. It's for good reason, as Morrill is the winningest Aggie coach ever. Of course fans love him. This love comes, as love often does, devoid of any consideration for the big picture.
Morrill is legendary for his proclivity for weak scheduling. He loves playing games in Logan. Why? The Spectrum is a great home court. Also, the Aggies have a losing record of 25-28 (4-3 on neutral courts) in non-conference road games in the past 10 years. So it's only natural that the fan base buy in. If they lose, it's because the game wasn't in Logan. Thus, "Come to Logan!"
I was curious about whether the claim of Rose's cowardice was warranted. So, I took a look into the non-conference scheduling and results of Utah State and BYU during Dave Rose's tenure.
Since 2005-06, BYU has played Utah State eight times. Three games have been played in Provo. Three games have been played in Logan. Two games have been played in Salt Lake City. Rose is 5-3 against Morrill. All three losses came at The Spectrum. Tuesday night will be the 9th matchup and the game is in Logan, so come game time, Dave Rose and the Cougars will have "Come to Logan!" more than Stew Morrill and the Aggies have traveled to Provo.
Sure, Utah State would rather not have neutral site games against the Cougars. They have lost both times. Meanwhile, BYU hasn't won in Logan since 2000, and has an all-time record of 51-60 at Utah State. However, neutral site games are attractive to the Y and should be to USU. They help both programs build more access in Salt Lake City (maybe more important for the Aggies), the atmosphere is awesome, and the NCAA selection committee loves neutral court games. No wonder BYU would like to mix one in here and there. But desiring neutral site games hardly mean Rose is afraid to play at the Spectrum. Again, to this point, Rose will have made more trips to Logan than Morrill has to Provo.
Perhaps then, the "Come to Logan!" chant had less to do with Dave Rose and BYU and more to do with isolationist culture Morrill has embedded during his 16 year tenure.
In the past two seasons, the Aggies left the state of Utah in non-conference play twice. Over the past 10 seasons (concurrent with Dave Rose), Utah State has played just 55 out of 141 (39 percent) non-conference games away from Logan. 20 of those away games took place in the state of Utah. Meaning that the Aggies have only scheduled a ridiculous 35 non-conference games out of the state in the last decade. For reference, that "coward" Dave Rose has played 66 (47 percent) away from home, 11 of which were true road games against a power 5 opponent.
When Utah State does leave the Spectrum, they rarely test themselves. The Aggies have played or will play just four "Power 5" conference, plus the Big East teams since 2005. Recording a game at Georgetown (Loss), two games at Mississippi State (two losses), and the still to come game at USC. For fun lets look at adding the non-conference away games against Missouri Valley, Mountain West, and West Coast Conference teams. The Aggies have gone 2-13. Meaning that 23 of the 25 non-conference away wins Utah State has recorded in the last decade came against teams in leagues you probably haven't heard of. It also means that 15 of their non-conference away losses came to the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Northwestern State, and Northeasterns of the college basketball world.
So, last year when facing defeat, Utah State's students leaned on that old Stew Morrill-constructed crutch and thought, this would be so much easier if everybody would just Come to Logan . After all, the Aggies have beaten the Cougars just once outside of the Spectrum since the three-point line was introduced to college basketball in 1986.
If Tyler Haws and the Cougars happen to win Tuesday night, what will be the next excuse?