In the aftermath of BYU's setback at TCU, the Mountain West Conference may be asked to re-address a conference recommendation that should probably become league policy.
In all but two conference football venues, the main student seating section and/or band seating is located in areas other than behind the visiting team bench. This practice is in accordance with a league recommendation. At New Mexico and TCU, however, the students and/or band sections are directly behind the visiting bench, and at TCU last week, a situation developed that could have easily gotten out of hand.
Approaching halftime, members of the band entered the BYU team area, going so far as to "get in the face" of BYU players, positioning themselves amidst the BYU players and taunting them. BYU's requests to have the stadium personnel and police control the band were denied. "It's their stadium, they can do what they want," BYU officials were told, in essence. BYU Football personnel moved the players away from the benches and toward the sideline to head off what appeared to be imminent confrontations.
During the TCU game, some of the students in the seating section directly behind the BYU team bench displayed signs denigrating the LDS Church. The signs were offensive enough to attract the attention of BYU administrators, who asked stadium personnel to remove the signs. Those requests were denied. In the second half, a high-ranking BYU Athletics administrator then went into the stands himself and took one of the signs away from a student. A police officer threatened the BYU administrator with arrest if he did not return the sign to the student. The BYU administrator gave the sign to the officer, but would not return the sign to the student.
Throughout the evening, BYU officials contacted TCU Athletics officials about assisting with the crowd control issues, to no avail.
As a side note, while I have to admit that I have not seen the TV broadcast of the game (I welcome clarification from those who saw the game on TV), I am told that Versus cameras showed the anti-LDS signs on at least one and possibly two occasions. If a random crowd shot inadvertently shows an offensive sign, that's easily understood. If the cameraman/production personnel intentionally or repeatedly shows such signs, that's irresponsible. Again, if it was a passing shot that was quickly taken off the screen, the network is not at fault, so I don't want to condemn the TV folks if they were not to be blamed (update note: I have now heard from many readers who think the "sign shots" were quick and not intentionally-directed).
Crowd control issues aside (and TCU would appear to be guilty of a laissez-faire approach, at best), the implicit support of religious intolerance is also an issue that should be addressed. The fact that a religiously-sanctioned institution such as TCU would be involved adds to the unsavory nature of the incidents last week.
As impressive a showing as it was for TCU on the football field last week, the game result would have been an afterthought had an incident erupted on the BYU sideline.
The league should act to ensure that responsible crowd control practices are legislated as necessary, and in at least one venue, the necessity appears evident.
Tonight's Bronco Mendenhall Show is live at Ken Garff Porsche Audi Volkswagen on East University Parkway in Orem. Bronco joins Marc Lyons and me at 7:00pm. Iceberg will be on hand with free burgers and dogs, of course!
The following news probably deserves its own blog entry, but as I'm sure you've heard, the MWC released the following earlier today:
MOUNTAIN WEST ANNOUNCES FIVE FINALIST CITIES FOR FUTURE MEN'S AND WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --- The Mountain West Conference future basketball championships site subcommittee has announced finalist cities to host the 2011-13 Mountain West Conference Men's and Women's Basketball Championships. The five finalists are Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and San Diego. These cities will be moved forward in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process with an expected awarding of the future site to take place in June 2009. Denver (2004-06) and Las Vegas (1999-2003, 2008-10) have previously hosted the MWC Basketball Championships.
"The Mountain West Conference Basketball Championships is a signature event that highlights our student-athletes," said Craig Thompson, MWC Commissioner. "We are pleased with all of the cities that showed interest in this event and the subcommittee is eager to begin reviewing the proposals from each finalist and move forward in the selection process."
Sixteen cities, featuring twenty-seven different facilities, received the initial RFP on July 15, 2008. Final proposals and bid specs will be due in February 2009. After a thorough analysis and breakdown of each proposal, the Mountain West Conference subcommittee will convene to review the proposals and make a recommendation for the MWC Joint Council to review during its meeting in Phoenix in May 2009. The Joint Council decision will be forwarded to the Mountain West Conference Board of Directors for final approval during its June 2009 meeting. It is anticipated an announcement will be made at the completion of the Board of Directors meetings.
The finalist cities named and potential host facilities are:
Albuquerque, New Mexico (The Pit)
Denver, Colorado (Pepsi Center)
Las Vegas, Nevada (Thomas and Mack Center)
Salt Lake City, Utah (EnergySolutions Arena OR The E Center)
San Diego, California (Cox Arena)
For what it's worth, my money's on Salt Lake City. Neutral floors, energized fan bases, and guaranteed ticket sales.