Standing at midfield of LaVell Edwards Stadium when the stands are empty can be an ominous experience. The cavernous expanse of steel bleachers rises high into the sky and looms over the field. That feeling can be compounded in the Marriott Center where the roof seals you in.
But fill the stands with a sea of blue and white whose voices rise in power with every BYU success - or opponent failure - and the power of the BYU fans is instantly felt.
In the tradition of the coliseum of ancient Rome come the BYU faithful, packing the stands to cheer on the Cougars as they fight for their athletic lives on the floors and fields of BYU's athletic facilities.
BYU's successful athletic tradition is not only built on the hard work, dedication and preparation of its athletes but also on the support of its fans. BYU has the largest college football stadium (65,000 seats) and basketball arena (22,700 seats) in Utah and holds the NCAA record for attendance to a men's volleyball game with 14,156 fans for a match against Hawaii in the Marriott Center in 1999.
The Cougars' supporters aren't merely fans; they're fanatics. Whether the temperature is close to 100 degrees or below freezing, each football game is sure to feature at least one group of shirtless men sporting large blue and white letters painted on their chests to support the team. Even school president Cecil O. Samuelson gets riled up for BYU's basketball games. Volleyball fans flock to the Smith Fieldhouse during the fall and spring where capacity crowds scream at the top of their lungs only a few feet away from the action.
Provo isn't the only place where Cougar fans make their presence known. With Alumni chapters and dedicated fans across the nation, traveling BYU supporters often find themselves in the midst of a vast fraternity of Cougar faithful.
At times the visiting blue and white fans can make the home team feel like they're on the road. BYU fans recently packed Qualcomm stadium, home of San Diego State University's football team, to take away home field advantage during the 2001 season. When the Cougars traveled to Virginia during the 2000 season, enough BYU fans turned up to fill an entire end zone. The most impressive showing during the 2005 season came during at the Pioneer Pure Vision Las Vegas Bowl in which BYU met the California Golden Bears. An estimated two-thirds of the more than 40,000 screaming fans that packed Sam Boyd Stadium were wearing Cougar blue.
"It's pretty special to have all the fans come out and support you wherever you go," said BYU men's basketball star Trent Plaisted. "When you're going into a visiting team's arena and you have more fans than they do, it really calms you down. It is a great feeling for us."