Aggie student section a big part of Spectrum's reputation
By G. Christopher Terry
February 8, 2006 | The fanatics were crammed
into a tiny foyer at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum
more than two hours before a basically meaningless
game against the 5-13 South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
When the ushers finally opened the doors, they
rushed down the steps to their customary spots,
hooting and yelling like a band of painted savages.
And since there's Aggie Blue and Fighting White
warpaint aplenty in the Aggie Student Section,
the only way to really tell these guys from flesheating
cave-dwellers out of an exploitation movie is
Nate Putnam, a senior majoring in philosophy,
said "We show up a little after 3 o'clock
for 7 o'clock tipoff. We bring our homework and
read and we bring DVD's and laptops and we just
have a party. We're here longer waiting for the
game to start than the game takes."
COURT ADVANTAGE: Skyler Frederickson, right,
in white headband, helps create the killer atmopshere
of the Smith Spectrum. Below, Nate Putnam, in
green hat, typically arrives four hours before
tipoff. / Photos by Brianna Mortensen.
Putnam is a member of the Spectrum On Wheels club who
can usually be found on the first row of section F,
right behind the basket. Although the Aggie Student
Section, or ASS, encompasses the entire "open seating"
area, its brain and heart are directly behind the basket,
leaning over the white barrier and pounding on it.
SOW club member and accounting junior Skyler Frederickson
said while a seat situated above halfcourt might provide
a better view, "that's totally irrelevant. The
best thing I go for is one of those opponents, they
look at me in the eye and smile or like nod their head.
That's all I'm after, man. That's what wins the game
If you've been to a game at the Spectrum you've probably
heard the crowd chant "Airball!" at some poor
wretch -- Austin Ainge of BYU being the most memorable
victim in recent history. South Dakota State heard "Learn
to Dribble!" after a spate of traveling calls and
Hawaii Coach Riley Wallace was hit with "Stupid,
Stupid" after drawing a technical foul in Monday's
But have you ever wondered how everyone knew to start
chanting "Ugly Duckling" at Boise State's
"The chants are a revelation to one person, and
it spreads," Frederickson said, "We're one
Maybe so, but the SOW guys bring a Dry-Erase board
with them just in case. Against South Dakota State the
maniacs in the front row got the whole ASS to sarcastically
chant, "We Want Headband!" and applaud for
Andy Kleinjan, a Jackrabbit guard wearing a yellow headband
and retro hairstyle.
Making jokes is fun, but the ASS's real function is
to be damn loud in support of the Aggies, which they
are from the player introductions until the end of the
presumptive Aggie win.
"I'm from Kentucky, so I've been to Rupp Arena
and Freedom Hall and we rock it. Rupp seats a few more
maybe but it doesn't get nearly as loud," said
Frederickson. "Honestly, you can't beat the Spectrum."
Frederickson said the Spectrum is louder than larger
arenas on rival campuses because of the ASS.
"The Spectrum seats a little more than 10,000;
when you have half of it filled up with students, you're
not going to get a better atmosphere than that."
For the University of Nevada's recent ESPN Big Monday
game against the Aggies, Frederickson (who, along with
Putnam and seven others brought the Spectrum to Reno
in the SOW club's maiden voyage of the year) said their
arena was "half full, it seats about 11 and a half
and they had about 6 [thousand] there I think."
Contrast that indifference to the atmosphere one week
later in the "Spec," where sections P through
F were one vertical cliff of Aggie colors and the wall
of noise rendered referee whistles inaudible at times.
USU's ASS is definitely bigger than the University of
Utah's; the Huntsman Center's student section amounts
to just one quarter of its circular stands.
"Every place I see on TV, they've got the student
section behind the basket and that's it," Frederickson
said, "This place has so many students, you're not going
to beat that."
The ASS has more than sheer volume going for it. Unlike
the fans at NBA games, Aggie fans don't have to be reminded
of the score, or tear their eyes away from courtside
celebrities to watch a basketball game. They have a
high basketball IQ and generally only dispute the most
agregious officiating foul-ups, rather than mooing at
the refs every time they pass in front, like a BYU fan.
A $5,000 commitment to the Big Blue cCub gives you
the right to purchase up to eight seats in rows 2-5
of sections X, A or B. It's a fine way to experience
an Aggie game in the Spectrum, with the action inches
from your face and the raging ASS across the way. But
for some diehards like Putnam and Frederickson, seats
are paid for in hours of wait time and shredded vocal