Curious interactions with Zag fans over BYU

It’s an interesting dynamic simmering in the Orleans Hotel and Arena for the WCC with Gonzaga fans and how they view BYU fans.

In short, these Zag fans are very nice people.  But they are uneasy with BYU fans.

Maybe it falls back to the NCAAs last year when the Jimmer-led BYU team defeated Gonzaga.  Things may have been a little more strained when BYU beat the Zags in Provo to go 2-0.  Perhaps this proud and traditional WCC power is used to seeing things their way and a newcomer in the neighborhood has impacted a comfort zone.  I don’t know.

BYU fans cheer as the Cougars play Gonzaga during NCAA basketball action in Provo Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012.

But Friday night after BYU defeated San Diego, I was waiting in the lobby for an elevator with fans from both sides.   When two elevator doors opened at the same time, some BYU fans hopped on one and Zag fans got on the other.  I stepped on the elevator with the Zag fans and two nice women immediately struck up a conversation that went like this:

“I’m so glad we didn’t get on that elevator with those BYU fans.”

I could see her point.  A teen boy decked out in BYU gear had a sign that said:  “We Got the Pope on Our Bench.”   It was a remark about Cougar assistant coach Mark Pope.

I thought to my self, if I were a Gonzaga fan who was Catholic, I might be a little put out by that sign.

I thought very little about the incident until the next day when photographer Jeff Allred and I went for breakfast and stood in line next to a Gonzaga fan, a woman in her late 60s.   Jeff struck up a conversation with her about the previous night’s games.  This woman said, “I hope tonight I’m not sitting by the same BYU fans.  I wanted to do this, (showing two hands in a strangling act).  If he had set in front of me, I’d have killed him.”

Jeff and I discussed this a bit over our meal.  When we left to go back to our hotel room, we again found ourselves at the elevator and a door opened up and a huge crowd of Gonzaga fans shuffled out of the compartment.  It was amazing how many people had crammed themselves into the box.

One we got in and pushed the button to our floor, I commented to four people in the elevator, elderly folks, “Can you believe how many people were in here?”

A nice elderly woman replied, ” Yeah.  Good thing there were no BYU fans in there with them.”

Gonzaga and BYU tipoff tonight at 9 p.m. (MT).  The Zags are favored by 2 points.

 

12 comments

  1. Christian Peel

    It sounds like you didn’t ask these people what they thought. Why not? And especially why write about it without having some kind of a guess as to why the Gonzaga fans did not like the BYU fans. Was it perceived arrogance, naivete, or just the enthusiasm of the fans? Come on, you’re a journalist; figure out why they don’t like BYU! Open your mouth and ask the people and interview them, even if it is awkward; offer to buy them dinner.

    • Zach Bowser

      Why – Keep in mind a significant contributing cause. Southern Idaho is primarily LDS and northern Idaho is primarily aligned to Washington and Montana and very much NOT LDS. The mining, trappers,and lumber industry in northern Idaho work closely with Spokane folks and they are a different bread. They are NOT part of the original “Deseret,” and southern Idaho and the “Palouse” are different regions. The Palouse is the region of northern Idaho and eastern Washington that would like to be together and feel they are over controlled by southern Idaho. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palouse

      • Z-man

        Spokane, the major urban hub of the entire Palouse region. So dominant was Spokane’s position, it became known as the capital of the Inland Empire, including all the wheat producing regions, the local mining districts, and lumber producing forests. Spokane also served as the main railroad and transportation hub of the entire region. Spokane and southern Idaho do not get along.

      • Zach Bowser

        Spokane, the major urban hub of the entire Palouse region. So dominant was Spokane’s position, it became known as the capital of the Inland Empire, including all the wheat producing regions, the local mining districts, and lumber producing forests. Spokane also served as the main railroad and transportation hub of the entire region. Spokane and southern Idaho do not get along well at all.

  2. d roundy

    Sitting in the crowd last night I commented to a byu fan sitting next to me that there seemed to be a good competitive spirit in the arena. Then after two altercations broke out and elderly Gonzaga fan’s vulgarity, I had to comment to the same byu fan that I thought we left the drunk fist fighting fan in the mountain west conference. It was a poor showing of class considering that they were beating us. Byu will bounce back.

  3. Gargoyle

    I recall two games where fans exemplified great camaraderie and sportsmanship. The Sooner fans when BYU went to Cowboy Stadium and a game with Wisconsin in Las Vegas. The Badgers drank all night and never got out of control and were great fans to be with. I am a BYU fan and have had season tickets for years. Not always the smartest group in understanding the game but they sure know that refs are lousy and the opponents are not righteous. Learn to enjoy the talent. It’s a game; not a religion.
    This article should be food for thought. It’s a game; not a religion.

  4. Bart Mortensen

    We sat right in front of 5 Gonzaga fans at the quarterfinal game against San Diego. They were on BYU from the get-go. They felt it would be easier to beat San Diego. And, maybe it would have been.

  5. Cougar Passion

    Is it really that much of a mystery? BYU represents “The Mormons”. Most schools do not want to lose to “The Mormons”, and other religious-based schools would feel even more strongly in that regard. The school is also an anomaly size-wise for this conference. I suspect that when the team returns to the form it has enjoyed most of the last several years under Coach Rose–no one can deny this was a rebuilding year with no dominant player–we will start seeing animosity toward the team much more like what we were accustomed to in the MWC. The WCC will ultimately be plenty happy to see BYU go to the Big 12 if that indeed happens.

  6. AZ True Blue

    I went to both the BYU/Gonzaga game and the St Mary’s/Gonzaga game. I was very disappointed in the Bulldog fans. They were more interested in jeering their opponents rather than cheering their own team. The St Mary’s game had 90% Zag fans, 5% St Mary’s fans, 5% other fans. With that overwhelming majority they booed everytime the St. Mary’s dance/cheerleader team did timeout routines and during every St Mary’s band number. I mean, who boos the opponent’s cheerleaders?

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