Athletic Traditions

Preparations for placing the initials BYU on the mountainside began in April of 1906 when president George H. Brimhall commissioned surveyors for the letters “B,” “Y” and “U.” The letter “Y” was first laid out to ensure that the initials were properly centered on the mountain. Beginning in the early morning, students formed a line that zigzagged up the mountain. Standing eight feet apart, each student would carry a load up to the next and then return for another.

The project, which many expected to be completed by 10 a.m., lasted until 4 p.m. and only the “Y” was covered. After such a laborious day of work, plans to fill in the other two letters were scrapped. Covered with a thin layer of lime powder, the letter was in need of constant repair. Hoping to make it more permanent, a layer of rock was added in 1907. The next year, 20,000 pounds of sand and cement were carried up the mountain to form a three-foot high wall around the letter to hold it together. Several years later the letter underwent a face lift as the blocks, or serifs, were added to it to give it its current appearance.

A nationally recognized symbol of BYU, Y Mountain is a featured shot of almost every Cougar game broadcast on television. Located about half a mile east of campus and halfway up the mountain, the “Y” looks out over the valley and is one of its most prominent features.

Y MountainCOSMO

The cougar, chosen as BYU’s mascot by former coach Eugene L. Roberts in the early 1920s, has undergone a tremendous evolution since its inception to become what is now known as the feline phenomenon of Cosmo the Cougar. Beginning in 1924 when BYU purchased a pair of cougar cubs for 50 cents each to excite BYU fans at athletic events, live cougars prowled the sidelines of BYU games on a regular basis through the late ‘40s and on special occasions through the ‘60s.

The original cubs were housed on the south side of campus until 1929 when they managed to break out of their cage, kill two dogs and begin stalking livestock on nearby farms. Both were recaptured later the same day. Three weeks later, one cougar died and the other was taken to the old Salt Lake Zoo. BYU procured its mascots from nearby zoos and local bounty hunters but never owned its own cougars again.

Cosmo the Cougar, the brainchild of pep chairman Dwayne Stevenson, made his first official appearance before BYU fans on Oct. 15, 1953. At a cost of 73 dollars for the costume, Daniel T. Gallego, Stevenson’s roommate, became the first man under the fur. The name given the big cat was derived from BYU’s diverse student body.

“BYU was a very international, cosmopolitan school and that is where we got the name Cosmo,” said Gallego.

With over a half-century of service to the BYU community, Cosmo has become an icon of Cougar sports to fans and foes across the country. Through Cosmo’s Kids Club and Cosmo’s Corner, he is helping raise another generation of BYU fans. Prowling the sidelines for the Cougars, his antics add to the experience of game day at BYU. Cosmo brings out the best of Cougar spirit in fans at athletic competitions both home and away.


Brigham Young University
By Clyde D. Sandgren, ‘32

Rise all loyal Cougars and hurl your challenge to the foe.
We will fight, day or night, rain or snow.
Loyal, strong, and true Wear the white and blue.
While we sing, get set to spring. Come on Cougars it’s up to you. Oh!

Rise and shout, the Cougars are out
along the trail to fame and glory.
Rise and shout, our cheers will ring out
as you unfold your victr’y story.
On you go to vanquish the foe
for Alma Mater’s sons and daughters.
As we join in song,
in praise of you, our faith is strong.
We’ll raise our colors high in the blue
and cheer our Cougars of BYU.