Words are just words until they are attached to a feeling and if the combination triggers goosebumps, they come to life and create staying power.

When horse racing announcer Dave Johnson declares, “And down the stretch they come!” it’s time to look up at the television.

Michael Buffer’s “Let’s get ready to rumble!” separates a title fight from the undercard, the contenders from the pretenders, and sends a tsunami of emotion throughout a boxing arena.

The call for drivers to “Start your engines” at the Indy 500 quickens the heartbeat.

Even at LaVell Edwards Stadium, when the air raid siren goes off and the public address announcer bellows “It’s third down!” the crowd responds with a thunderous roar.

Some phrases are so big the owners trademark them for exclusivity and protection. Companies like Nike, Apple, McDonald’s and Amazon do the same to protect their name and image. Universities and athletic departments are no different.

BYU has trademarked its name, logo, mascot and even the popular Cougar Tail that is served during sporting events. Adam Parker heads the Office of Licensing and Trademark to preserve and protect the brand. Using BYU’s trademarked names or icons without permission is prohibited.

It’s a challenge to come up with a phrase or slogan that is so widely accepted that it warrants protection. Nike pulled it off with “Just do it!” Wendy’s scored big in the 1980s with “Where’s the beef?”

In sports, the Masters trademarked “A tradition unlike any other” after it was first coined by tournament announcer Jim Nantz. The NCAA protected “March Madness” and the NFL put its legal arms around “Super Bowl.” Major League Baseball did the same with “World Series.”

BYU officially joins the Big 12 (also trademarked) on July 1 and begins competition this fall.

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While the Sept. 2 opener against Sam Houston will be played under government protection, meaning the stadium, the team names, the school colors, the band, the cheerleaders, the Cougar Tail, the television network and even the football itself are trademarked, what remains free to all is the weather, our emotions and any new catchphrases that might emerge.

For example …

“Attack & sack!”: Defensive coordinator Jay Hill is promising an aggressive defense determined to stop the run and get to the quarterback. BYU struggled to get off the field on third downs last season and collected a meager 15 sacks and 12 turnovers. During Hill’s first interview on “BYU Sports Nation” Dec. 8, he said, “I will blitz, I will put every guy at the line of scrimmage rather than just sit there and let people pound us.” “Shock and awe” is already trademarked, but “Attack & sack” is fair game.

“Slinging Slovis”: Transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis threw for over 9,000 yards and 68 touchdowns during three years at USC and one season at Pittsburgh. Slovis has faced 34 Power Five defenses (including BYU) and has completed 65.9% of his passes, which tops BYU legends Ty Detmer (62.6), Jim McMahon (61.6), Robbie Bosco (64) and John Beck (62.4). Slovis is in Provo to throw the ball and “Slinging Slovis” is available.

“Runnin’ Robbins”: Aidan Robbins watched Jamaal Williams, Ty’son Williams and Tyler Allgeier run right into the NFL after their BYU running back careers ended. He wants to do the same. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound transfer rushed for 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns last season at UNLV. The Cougars struggled in short yardage situations last fall. He pledges to be the answer and “Runnin’ Robbins” is as free and clear in the trademark world as he hopes to be while galloping through Sam Houston’s defense.

The “Revolutionary”: Linebacker Ben Bywater is trusted to deliver hits, just as Paul Revere was called on to deliver the news of a pending British attack in 1775. Revere received a lantern signal from Boston’s North Church revealing if the “redcoats” were coming by land or by sea and he rode his horse to spread the word. For Bywater, his pursuits are always by land — where he has led BYU in tackling for two seasons. Like Revere, Bywater also has a horse (as a metaphor) — and after intercepting the SMU quarterback, he rode it 76 yards for a touchdown to win the New Mexico Bowl. Bywater is the “Revolutionary” in Hill’s defense.

The “Epptathlon”: Kody Epps showed in eight games last season that he is capable of doing it all. As a freshman receiver, at 5-feet-11, Epps caught 39 passes for 459 yards and six touchdowns, including a 100-yard performance against Notre Dame. In a wordplay off the heptathlon, which includes seven track events, Epps runs, catches, scores, dances, smiles, prays and recruits (Slovis said Epps played a big role in his coming to BYU). Get ready for the trademark-free “Epptathlon.”

It’s hard to plan for a catchphrase to catch on, but when the right words connect with the right emotions during BYU’s Big 12 debut this fall, they will create the kind of iconic imagery that set up camp in our minds forever — some based on disappointment while others on triumph.

Words, designs and slogans will continue to be trademarked and beholden to the originator, but the emotions we attach to them, especially in sports, will remain free with no limitation to the number of goosebumps Cougar fans feel each time the band plays Rise and Shout!

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.