PROVO — BYU fans won’t soon forget the Jimmer Fredette era and what it meant to the basketball program for which they cheer. The national attention turned toward their beloved Cougars, and the Marriott Center provided a raucous atmosphere that would rival any venue in the country during Jimmer’s junior and senior seasons.
A few of those same fans want to re-create the Jimmer years and think they know how to do it. A certain top recruit from Chicago is set to visit BYU and attend BYU’s game vs. Cal-State Northridge on Nov. 24, and more than a few fans want to help make that visit memorable.
Jabari Parker is certainly no ordinary recruit. The 6-foot-8 Simeon High star is widely regarded as the nation’s No. 1 prospect, has landed himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and is wanted by every program in the country.
Parker recently trimmed his final list to five and BYU is on that list, along with Duke, Michigan State, Florida and Stanford. He aims on making official visits to each of those schools before making his final decision.
Of course, none of this is news to most BYU fans that are well aware of Parker and desperately want Dave Rose and company to sign him. But how can fans work to help get Parker to Provo without violating strict NCAA guidelines regarding fan contact?
Greg Welch and Tony Brown, who are both ardent BYU supporters, think they’ve found a way — T-shirts — and lots of them.
The two have launched a campaign to make as many as 5,000 T-shirts that read “From Chicago to Provo” in time for Parker’s BYU visit on Thanksgiving weekend. The plan is to pass out the T-shirts — particularly to BYU students — for the game against Cal-State Northridge that Parker will be attending.
The idea was hatched after seeing Duke fans chant Parker’s name when he attended a game there, among other factors.
“Duke is famous for creating a great atmosphere and we think BYU can create that same atmosphere and even a better atmosphere,” said Brown. “This is just one way, but I think it’s important for recruits to see how excited BYU fans can be. I was there during the Jimmer era and I know what kind of atmosphere this fanbase is capable of creating.”
Many feel that Parker can have a similar impact on BYU’s program that Fredette did if the Cougars do indeed sign him. The goal is to first show Parker what type of atmosphere BYU can present with hopes that his impact on the team will carry that atmosphere to Jimmer-era type heights.
Welch, who works for an ad agency in Des Moines, Iowa, is keenly aware of how big an impact advertising can play in anything.
“We simply want to get the message out to big recruits that BYU fans want them without violating NCAA guidelines,” Welch said. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we believed we were violating those guidelines.”
Brown and Welch have launched an ad on BYU fan site Cougarboard.com to promote their campaign. The goal is to reach $5,000 in donations and print as many T-Shirts as the money they receive can buy. As of Friday Nov. 2, they’ve received $1,500.
“It’s incredible to see how trusting BYU fans are and I want all of them to know that we will not be taking one penny out of what we’re collecting for ourselves,” Welch said. “We’re simply big BYU fans who want to help our program and we think this is a great way to do it.”