Faithful Cougar fans stand at the battlefront to protect campus

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    By JOE DANA

    The misty night air rests over the desolate concrete of BYU campus. While thousands of Cougar faithful around Provo rest quietly in their bundles of Y blankets, perhaps the most courageous BYU fans are right here where it matters most: at the battlefront of rivalry week.

    Junior Brian Hanrahan is one of them. He rides his bike swiftly through campus, talking into his radio. It’s 1:25 a.m. Halting in front of the ASB, he surveys the head and feet of the bronze statue. Saran wrap still intact.

    “Brother Brigham is OK,” he reports in military voice.

    Hanrahan then turns his head and scopes the view that Brigham himself overlooks and the two gaze proudly over their prized land.

    “I take this job pretty seriously. I sign up for it every night,” Hanrahan said.

    Hanrahan is part of a quiet army roaming campus. The six antennas he and his fellow HAM radio club members set up on top of the Wilkinson Center, along with a defense plan complete with nicknamed zones and “hot spots,” prove this is no silly night game. The club was personally requested by President Merrill J. Bateman himself to guard the campus from the spray paint and vandalism of red week.

    “We also have satellite tracking antennas and police dispatch radios that communicate directly with police, fire and ambulance within seconds,” Hanrahan said.

    Satellite tracking? Fortunately there’s been no need for that. At least not yet.

    Brother Brigham, check.

    On the roof of the Kimball Tower stands another volunteer, senior computer science major Christian Allred. He stands peering through the glass wall, in sniper position, surveying the work of Hanrahan and others.

    “A lot of our job here is to make sure the statues come through red week unscathed,” Allred said. “So far, nothing tonight. Not even PDA (public displays of affection).”

    For Allred, the big game hyped for Saturday has already started.

    Across campus, in the trenches where The Utes and Cougars will throw the skin on Saturday, there is a cluster of students protecting another icon of Cougar country: the cougar himself, enshrined among the prickly brushes around Cougar Stadium. David Olsen, a sophomore from San Diego majoring in electrical engineering, said he will feel just a little better knowing the bronze beauty isn’t glazed in red when he enters the stadium for Saturday’s game.

    “I’ll feel a sense of pride,” Olsen said.

    Olsen is a volunteer working with the Intercollegiate Knights Club, a service club on campus that has volunteered to guard the stadium for the week.

    Stadium, check.

    At just before 3 a.m., the ROTC, air force division, is sitting on the bouldery beds of Y Mountain, where the air is a little colder and the stakes a little higher.

    “The Y is a beacon to all of us and it’s vital that it remains white,” said 23-year-old Dan Hannon, a sophomore majoring in geographic information systems. Hannon sat with three others, one dressed in camouflage and army boots. The group is equipped with a sleeping bag, seven apples and a six pack of Dr. Pepper. And if a band of Utes attack from the ridge?

    “We have a radio also,” Hannon said. “If we have to fight, the ratio is about one BYU student worth every 10 Ute students, so we’ll be fine.”

    The four students see it this way: the morale of 30,000 students is in their hands.

    The Y, check.

    Back on campus, the campus radio crew stood taking a fuel break: doughnuts and hot chocolate. Suddenly, as they were all huddled together, one question had to be asked: What about Brother Brigham? He was suddenly abandoned. But they didn’t seem too worried.

    “If something happened, it would give us another story to tell,” one said.

    One gets the feeling that it’s almost an invitation, which seems to characterize the spirit of a week like this that is ironically so hated, but oh so welcomed.

    The rivalry, check.

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