<strong>LOGAN—</strong> The Aggies were down by three. Preston Medlin rolled off a Jarred Shaw screen just outside the 3-point line and immediately squared his shoulders to the hoop, releasing the ball only inches from the fingertips of a defender. The arc was perfect, the clock was winding down, and the audience was silent. With less than a second left on the clock, the ball found the bottom of the net to send the game into overtime.
That shot sent the Spectrum into a frenzy fans hadn’t seen in more than a year, at least since the last time BYU came to town. General admission seats joined with a half-full student section in creating a decibel level that can be described as both painful and euphoric.
As I cheered with the rest of the students during the Aggies’ overtime victory, I wondered what the HURD would do to keep this momentum going. Less than 24 hours later I heard rumor of one of the most creative and original ideas USU fans have come up with in a while – a “Beard Out.”
Junior guard Preston Medlin was wearing the facial fur when he hit the shot, and “Medlinsanity” was hitting Aggie fans everywhere. A “Beard Out” is exactly what should happen to continue the celebration.
After almost a week of Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and signs around campus advertising the event, Friday night finally saw the very first “Beard Out” at USU, and possibly the first anywhere.
I joined students waiting outside the Spectrum a little more than an hour before the doors opened. We could feel the excitement of the upcoming game seeping through the cracks of the doors. That anticipation, along with a few actual beards (not mine), kept us warm. When 6 p.m. hit, the party was on. I rushed down the aisles performing what students lovingly call “suicide stairs” because of the many face-plants experienced trying to get that perfect seat.
I was among those who, despite my best efforts, just couldn’t grow enough facial hair to wear a real beard. Lucky for me, the HURD came around and provided fake beards to don during the next couple hours. Not only were beards provided for baby-faced fans like myself, but the cardboard cut-outs also found themselves sporting whiskers. Snooki, Justin Beiber, President Obama and even Austin Powers each had their own brand of facial hair to help students distract opposing free-throw shooters.
As the game was about to start I glanced around at a completely full student section, a sight I hadn’t seen so far this basketball season. The HURD had come home. The Spectrum was back. More than 4,500 students packed into the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
We screamed, cheered, clapped and chanted our Aggies to a 66-60 victory over San Jose State. Voices were lost, sweat poured out, and ears were left ringing when the night finally came to a close with the now famous “Winning Team/Losing Team” cheer.
At the start of the year there were a lot of question marks, as only two of the current starters played any games for the Aggies before this season. But now, this young group of Aggie athletes has fought their way to a 14-1 record, the third best starting record of any USU basketball team ever. That record includes a 13-game winning streak, which also happens to be tied (with Kansas I might add) for the longest active winning streak in the nation.
If you haven’t had a chance to come see this team play, you need to. And if you have seen them in action, you know what I mean when I say that Utah State basketball has a bright future.
The “Beard Out” is over, but “Spectrum Magic” continues to grow. Now if only I could get my facial hair to do the same.