Monday, July 29, 2013

5 Things BYU Should Do To Improve In-Stadium Experience

By John Ahlander, 

More and more fans are opting to stay home and watch college football games on TV, instead of making the effort to go in person.  This is principally due to increased television coverage, in HD, enjoyed from your living room couch.

Here are five things BYU should do to improve the in-stadium experience for the fans that spend the time to travel to the stadium, pay for expensive tickets and food, and cheer the team on in person.

1. Use ribbon boards for something useful

BYU made a huge deal last year out of the installation of new video scoreboards and ribbon boards in the stadium.  The video boards were excellent quality and added to the game experience, but the ribbon boards were a huge disappointment.  Basically, they were a 3-hour advertisement, and during night games, the flashing lights were a big distraction.  What a waste!  BYU should use the ribbon boards to show a ticker of current game stats and scores from other games of interest.  This is common at most professional sports venues.

2.  Provide Free WIFI

One big disadvantage of going to the stadium to watch the game instead of staying home is that you are now disconnected from the Internet.  Cell phone data coverage in the stadium is overwhelmed and unreliable.  With the announcement of Google Fiber to Provo, why not swing a deal for Google to provide free WIFI in stadium, like they are proposing to do in various U.S. cities.

3.  Show college football highlights on the video board during game breaks

ESPN is our partner, right?  BYU should request the rights to show the most recent ESPN SportsCenter 30-second college football update on the video board.  TV viewers get this while watching the game, but the in-stadium fans don't.  Why not?

4.  Show half-time TV analysis on the video board

Another benefit of watching from home is getting professional analysis of the first half.  In the stadium, this is forfeited.  Why not broadcast it on the big screen?  If not the ESPN half-time analysis, at least the BYUtv announcer crew.

5.  Better half-time shows

Apologies in advance to the band, but there is an opportunity to entertain the fans more with better half-time shows.  Maybe BYU could showcase local music talent during half time.  Many aspiring artists would give a free half-time show, if they could sell their CDs in the stadium afterwards.

What are your ideas to improve the in-stadium experience?

Tell us what you think in the comments below, or on twitter @CougarFanDotCom

View all BYU sports news at


  1. I completely agree that they need to use the ribbon boards better. Even if all they do is scroll the name of the player that made the last play, it's better then seeing the same ad all game long.

  2. All J-Dawgs to be sold in-stadium. . . Yummy!

  3. Ideas 1,2 and 3 are great ideas. get people motivated for the game and especially second half. But the last two are downers. Think of the Notre Dame game last year. A game we were leading most the game and the halftime discussion was the I love Manti Teo show. I dont want to go to the game and hear all about how good the other team is. and bigger halftime show would be too hard to manage. I am old school and want to hear the band.

  4. I haven't been to a home game in years.I like the idea of using other talent in addition to the Cougar Band. How about having local high school bands, as well?

  5. There is a one thing that the UofU - and other top teams in the country - has better than BYU and unfortunately this thing made the difference last year.

    Their Band

    BYU's band is, if not the worst, certainly one of the worst in the country in regards to game involvement. Why does the University waste 200+ seats for a group of people who don't give a rats butt about the game? The best college teams in the country have a band, which literally is a 12th man. Imagine the momentum that could be created by a BYU band, which actually does things to enhance the "Football Game" rather than display distract from the game with their knowledge of Primary songs and Neil Diamond. Don't get me wrong, both great in their own venues, but not at a football game. The "Go Utes" song, which gets played after every first down is a thing of beauty because not only does it inspire their fans to get involved in the game, but it's also a source of nightmare for the opposing fan. Imagine BYU's band playing a shortened, but inspiring version of "When the Saints Go Marching" after every first down? If BYU ever wants its stadium and atmosphere to compete with the top teams, it's got to start with the band. Ditch the primary songs, ditch the Neil Diamond, demand they know about football, demand they are a part of the game rather than a distracting side-show and by all means, ditch the ancient band uniforms - see Stanford's band.

    There is a lot to be proud of at BYU, but the band is definitely not one of them. How the Band didn't make this list I'll never know.

  6. I completely agree with #1. I would love to see other games scores all the time for one section of the ribbon band. They could show each of the teams BYU will face this year current game and score. It is annoying to be at a game and not know what is going on in other games that you are interested in.

    I would also like to have the band more involved with the game, I have sat next to the band for the past few years and I agree with Darron that you couldn't find a bunch of people less interested in the game.

  7. To Darron's comment, I hate hate hate how frequently the team up north plays that song. Sometimes it seems that they play it even after they had a turnover or after they got stopped on a third and long, or even had a field goal attempt blocked. I know of at least one former band leader that hated the fact that they played the dumb song soo much.

    The Main problem with the band is that they have to compete with the music playing over the PA system. BYU should pick one or the other and stick with it. Give the band a priority and stick a TV microphone close by, so even the people watching from home can hear them play the fight song. They do this at other schools like Notre Dame, Michigan, and that team up north (perhaps those schools' bands only know one song though).

    I also think that the band could greatly enhance the game day experience, but they shouldn't be used so much during half time where they repeat the same show several games a year.

    1. I agree. I'd much rather hear the band during the game and maybe do other music at halftime. Get rid of the loud 'pump up' music during the game and/or timeouts. That's what the spirit of college football is. Let's hear that band roar... then during halftime let's get some local talent in 2-3 weeks a year. Or a high school or all-state marching band to showcase the kids.

  8. Good points. Cell/internet service in LES is a joke.
    I did not renew my season tickets this year, even with one of the best home schedules in history because the games are nothing but one huge advertisement. I just read saw a study that said in a 3 hr. football game, only like 20 minutes of that time was actual live game plays / action...BYU needs to step it up keep us more entertained...and the BYU band is not the answer. I like the idea of streaming some ESPN on TV's and that throughout the stadium.
    I can sit on my couch with instant replay, DVR, and AC or fight traffic and crowds and be bombarded with ads. Which do you think I am going to pick???
    The Jazz do a great job with fan entertainment. Even if the game kind of sucks, there is other fun stuff to see. Can't say the same for the cougs.

  9. #1 - Music - If you go to other big time programs the music before and during the game can play a big role in the atmosphere. I understand the unique enviornment BYU has to play within, but you could find good music that would jack up the crowd.

    #2 - Traffic - It is a pain gettin out of Provo, so a lot of people rush out of the stadium trying to get to their cars to get out of Provo. I know that at Ohio State (105k) they have an awesome bus system, parking lots, road closures, traffic cops all over the city to ensure a fast way home for the fans. Seriously, it takes about 40 minutes from leaving your seats to your home at Ohio State (and I live about 25 minutes from the stadium with normal traffic). BYU should have several different locations throughout Provo, Orem, etc. for fans to park and then ride buses to the game and then have the buses available for after the game to drive the fans (with no red lights and stops) directly to their cars.

    #3 - Highlights from old BYU games and players. Before the game they should be playing clips from old games and players. The highlights should have good music to them NOT the normal BYU crap music.

    #4 - A live Cougar roaming the sidelines with a sweet nickname. They could have the Cougar run out of the tunnel ahead of team as they take the field

    1. The bus idea is brilliant however a lot of BYU fans are selfish and want the option to leave early if the game isn't going in their favor. I say close the parking lot closest to the stadium or reserve it for season tix holders only. Then everyone else has to park away and bus in.

  10. As a former member of BYU's marching band, I take issue with blanket statements disparaging the band. BYU's band played only one primary song that I can remember, and that is "popcorn popping on the apricot tree." It was only played at the end of games that the football team had well in hand. But a few years ago the very negative (petty) calls for its removal finally got too much for the old band director to put up with, so he did actually remove it for the rest of his tenure. Frankly, BYU is not and should not be just like anywhere else, it has always been a family friendly environment, and "Popcorn Popping" adds to that.

    While I agree that the current uniforms are something I dislike, it's for somewhat different reasons. One of the great things about college athletics is the tradition (hmm...Tradition.Spirit.Honor) and pageantry of it all. I wish BYU's band uniforms were more traditional than they are now.

    Coming out of HS marching band I knew nothing about football, my hs team was horrible going winless my senior year. But BYU Band is when I actually started learning about the game, as they had a team worth watching.

    BYU's band plays the neil diamond song what, once or twice a game? They play so much more than just that. They do play a sped up version of the school alumni song after each first down, they play a bit of lord of the rings after big incompletions by the opposing team and scream "You shall not pass!" They play the imperial march from star wars when they stop an opponent on third downs. They play some Top 40 stuff, granted it might be a few years old, it takes a bit for pop stuff to be orchestrated for marching band.

    The band puts a lot of time in every week, 9 hours on weeks with away games and byes, and 5 to six more hours for weeks with home games. And they aren't paid. Some get a little tuition assistance, but not much. And most work and go to school full-time and try to have lives on top of it all. They deserve a whole lot more than they get for all their hard work.

    No, the band is not made up of a lot of athletes that know the game backwards and forwards, but they work a lot harder than average joe fan. Try holding 5 to 30 pounds, while marching in step, remembering where you are supposed to be and when, wearing a thick uniform, in high temperatures at the beginning of the season and freezing temperatures at the end of the season, and actually playing an instrument. Please excuse some of the clarinetists and flautists if they don't know the difference between a slant pattern and a go route. Please excuse some of them for being just a little bit oblivious when they are resting in-between songs. There are a lot of kids over in the regular student section that are just there to socialize, that have even less an idea of what is going on in the game.

    And please explain to me how emulating Stanford's liberal hippy band is a good thing? They seem to get in trouble every year for being rude to opposing teams and their fan bases. That may be their tradition, but it's not BYU's.

    And how exactly is Utah's band superior and more influential on the game when their team can only manage a 4-2 home record and one of those wins was just barely beating BYU lead by a gimpy Nelson and another was N. Colorado? Sounds to me like conference teams at least could care less about their marching band. That's certainly something to emulate...

    1. From a former member of the marching band....couldn't have said it better myself! College football is supposed to have marching bands! TRADITION says it all. That's what makes the "Game Day" experience fun.

  11. I love the suggestions for improvement and hope BYU takes this opportunity to improve the experience! I caution making the use of the video boards and the ribbon detract from the half time show (something only those in the stadium get to enjoy!). But our half time shows could be upgraded to use not only the band but more local talent as well. That would drive increased interest as well.

  12. My biggest prob is the halftime show. It's always the same band performing some starwars or Indiana Jones medley (starwars was left lower-case for a reason). Why not have fun contests or bring in some local band's for a couple songs. Neon Tree's and Imagine Dragons all have Utah roots plus there are a plethora of talented musicians there. The halftime analysis would get in the way of the show, so prob not going to happen. Don't allow the casual date-goers in. Those boys in tighter skinny jeans than their girlfriend need to stay home and listen to their dubstep. Oh and the pink shirts need to not be sold in the bookstore. I am a man who can rock a pink shirt as well as anyone, but NOT IN THE STADIUM! Not even girls. Pink is a shade of red and you all know we HATE the color red! Oh... and one more thing: FREE COUGAR TAILS!

  13. Update the music played during halftime by using a song that was written by BYU fans for BYU Football "BYU Rise Up-We're Independent Now" has 300,000 views on YouTube, but of course has never been played in the stadium...Play It. Play it often...and loud. Listen to the Cougar growl in the more 80s songs like "Don't Stop Believin' by Journey --a stolen idea from the Utes and Bill Clinton's campaign...take a step forward.

  14. As a huge Wisconsin fan, I've got to say that unless Cougars find a way to tailgate and have fun, it'll be hard to keep drawing folks to the game day experience. I attended a BYU "tailgate" at the Notre Dame game a few years ago that was the lamest excuse for a tailgate party. Maybe the Cougars need to scout opposing teams' tailgates.

  15. I've been harping on these for years:
    1. Agree on the stupid ribbon advertising nonsense. Irritating.
    2. Stop selling out. No more "this first down brought to you by CarFax". It's a Sonic 3rd down." Hate it enormously.
    3. Show controversial plays. Quit treating us like imbeciles incapable of controlling our emotions. Report the bad calls and plays on screen as a normal course of events.
    4. Control the bands. Last time the Utes played we sat between the bands and they were both playing at the same time -- different songs. Awful.
    5. I like the band (at it's a cheap shot to say they're the "worst" or whatever) but they could improve with copying some of Notre Dame's imaginative and pleasing use of music. Would LOVE it if the band all hit their highest notes when opponents are in their endzone. Make it impossible to audible! My whistle is loud, but needs some co-conspirators.

    I like many of the other suggest

  16. 1. I agree completely with the ribbon boards. They should be used for time and weather updates, live game stats, displaying scores around the country and leading the fans in cheers (hopefully coordinated with the band and cheerleaders).

    2. I'd rather not have WiFi in the stadium. We have enough distractions already in the stadium. It would be better for the fans to keep their eyes on the game and to cheer and build up that excitement. Even at half-time, the schools with the best in-stadium experiences have fans that are tuned in to support the cheerleaders, band and any other traditions and pageantry that may be going on (remember, ESPN's cameras will scan the fans occasionally and we want the fans to look involved as they switch to and from commercial breaks, etc.)

    3. A clip of EPSN highlights while the team warms up on the field in pregame and half-time would be AWESOME.

    4. No TV style half-time analysis. The only half-time analysis that needs to go on in the stadium is in the locker rooms.

    5. Half-time shows: Keep the band the way it is. This is a college sport and the show should be reserved for the college students. But, the idea for local talent is a good one if used in the right manner, and I suggest they be used to help bolster the pregame tailgating environment, which is virtually non-existent. Alternatively, they could perform in the stadium before the band's pregame show, helping motivate ticketholders to arrive before kickoff. The band is putting up with enough as it is. Unfortunately most people that comment against the band don't know the dealings behind it. The band is usually pretty interested and involved in the game (anyone who went to the WCC basketball tournament this year would notice that the band was much louder and much more supportive than the student section, even after a loss was imminent - band kids that don't like the sport simply join one of many other bands on campus) and not only has to know the rules of the game but also other rules (some national and some that vary by site) that govern their participation. Rules often dictate that band members be seated unless they are playing. Plus, they can't always react instantly to every situation on the field. They are constantly predicting whether the next tune should be a cheer for a first down, a third down, an interception, a touchdown, a timeout, good passing defense, outstanding offensive plays, etc. and often don't have time to adjust the plan when something else happens or if the stadium atmosphere changes. Next, there are rules as to when a band cannot play to prevent unfairly distracting the players (and the fans), such as once players are set on the line of scrimmage. In addition, they avoid playing after a flag is thrown (so the fans can hear what the refs announce) and when a player is injured on the field. Next, at BYU the marketing department requires that all their advertisements be concluded before the band plays and the directors listen to headsets for the cue that it’s OK to play. Finally, they have to be careful with their song selection because at BYU the administrators can and do get letters about songs with inappropriate lyrics being played. Want the band more involved? Support them. Convince the people responsible for the program that the band should have priority over advertisements and join the band in cheering after offensive first downs, defensive third downs and at other times. And push for a more strategic placement for the band. Why is Notre Dame's band so loud on TV? Look at where they sit - they spread the sideline as close to the playing field as you can get. That gets the TV crews to notice them and they're closer to the mics. BYU's band (in football and basketball) is pushed up into the bowl and only gets that advantage at neutral locations such as bowl games and basketball tournaments.

    1. Wifi wouldn't be a big deal if the ribbon boards were used correctly. We use our phones to check scores and other such game day media. Post scores and show plays and you eliminate much of this need.
      The halftime band is fine if they would play more relevant music. The do an ok job of this when they are in the stands but for halftime they play score type music where it should be to entertain and prep for the second half. Mixing in some other talent would be good.

  17. I just want to add a little more to the band comments. I'm a Ute and was in the Utah Marching band for a long time, so I really appreciate what Darron had to say. My one comment on BYU's marching band is that we couldn't ever hear them. As in, the Ute Marching Band could never year the Cougar Marching Band. And they are mic'd-- that's actually the only time we could hear an echo of what they were actually doing(for some reason it's a Utah county thing-- I know AF does it, too. I've always thought it was weird). When we practiced outside at the U, we always were really excited when we could hear our echo off of Huntsman or the mountain range. It meant we were projecting. I wish the Y could do it, too. It would be a lot more fun!!

    Clear this up if it is just a rumor, but we heard that anyone studying music at BYU has to be in the marching band... as in, mandatory. If you got rid of that, so that the people that were there actually wanted to be there, you might actually have a lot more fun and support for the football team.

    I remember hearing lectures about paying attention to the game. We could visit and dance and have fun, but our focus had to be on the game because... well, that's what we were there for... to support our team... because the football game is really about the football, not the band... So I can see where Darron is coming from. If you involve the band more in the game, then you've got less distraction within the band and with the fans.

    Having said that, I'm all about Half-Time. But we did go through two or three shows a year. Pre-game was always the same, though....

    The hours are long, and even if you do get a stipend, you're getting paid like, two dollars an hour, and I think that goes for any band member. Even so, I loved it. I really miss the hours and hours of working together toward something, the exercise, and the breathless (literally) feeling after every show. Love, love, loved it. I really enjoyed the time we got to spend with BYU's band, too, but I'm REALLY glad I decided to go to the U. Because our band is better. ;)

    PS My husband is a Cougar and he has said how much he likes tailgating at the Y better because of all the free stuff, but wishes, at the same time, that you guys could have campers grilling and stuff, too. It would just complete a wonderful experience. :) We played a few songs at tailgating before every game, and that was fun(another way the band can boost the fans' excitement), but aside from that, I'm not too big on the whole tailgating thing, at all.

    1. I'll put in a word for that rumor. Music majors are not required to be in the band and about three-fourths of the band's members (depending on the year) are not music majors. Ask any of the kids - they love being there. Interest is not the problem. Whatever it is, I think the kids in BYU's band (and the same goes for just about any other school) give a whole lot more to the school and community of fans than they get credit for and do an excellent job representing their institution.

    2. True that!

      Thanks for clearing that up for me.

      I would also like to apologize for 'trolling.' After I had commented, my husband informed me that that's what I was doing. Sorry, all!! I didn't even know what that was before yesterday.

  18. Perhaps author could forward these comments or tell us where we should...because some of these are a MUST. I am utterly upset that BYU gets 6-10 times more TV money than in the mountain but the year they went independent the food and ticket prices went up and the 'awesome ribbon boards' are used to get more revenue.

    Also. We switched our season tickets from the north endzone to the south endzone last year. What a disappointment. You cannot hear anything from the speakers because there are only speakers in the north score board. So you rip the old boards out, down to the skeletons, and you don't install speakers in both ends. We were very mad about that.

    Anyways, find us the best we to voice our thoughts and perhaps some of this could change rather than these excellent comments falling on deaf ears.