Party on.

As big and as deep as sober BYU fans could celebrate Big 12 membership this weekend, they rocked the wagon as hard and as long as they could. 

Pass the ice cream.

On Saturday, chasing the clock before the Stadium of Fire, fans funneled into the practice field north of the Student Athlete Building at 3 p.m. at the rate of more than 125 per minute. There they were met with cascading rock band music by Patrick and the Las Vegas Band live, the beat of steel guitars and drums echoing through the event.

As BYU-gear-clad fans big and small arrived, parents pushing single and twin strollers straight out of minivans, those at 3:24 p.m. were met with the band’s rendition of “Jimmy Eat World,” by The Middle.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet

It’s only in your head, you feel left out

Or looked down on

Just try your best

Try everything you can

It was a party. A Big 12’s-got-your-back kind of affair.

With food trucks, games and gear tents lined up all around, it was a carnival atmosphere and fans couldn’t get enough of it. The night before, they gathered for a countdown at midnight, complete with fireworks.

A school that had once been labeled a non-Power 5 team despite a storied brand and tradition and first-class facilities threw off the shackles this week. It’s a new era.

“Independence was cool in the beginning, but the legitimacy of the Big 12 will be nice,” said the owner/founder of JDawgs, Jayson Edwards, a longtime BYU fan and sponsor who manned his food truck in the No. 1 spot by the entrance to the SAB practice field.

“You surround yourself with great schools and it just adds so much to what you are doing, plus the competition is so much better. It will be nice to play for a trophy and go to an actual bowl,” commented Edwards.

“You know what? I just want to sell more hot dogs. I want great games in November and December where people are coming to see great games and buy hot dogs, butts in the seats all season. Not like having great teams then Our Lady of the Sand Dunes.”

While a mass of BYU fans took part in a weeklong celebration of Big 12 tribalism, the university isn’t waiting for the windfall of Power 5 money to trickle into coffers. The football offices are currently getting a huge facelift with a complete makeover of furnishings, carpet, additional offices for added staff, and a new defensive team meeting theater. The west side of the offices, which formerly housed a seldom-used patio area, is now under construction to accommodate the new amenities.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity for BYU to move ahead,” said Scott Shelley of Provo. “I also think that independence was hard, but we succeeded with it. Now, this is a great opportunity for us to see what we can do on a bigger stage. I just think it’s amazing. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to go to some football games because of different teams, some we’ve never seen, but we’ll now see on a regular basis and make rivalries with. That’s exciting.”

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Syd Sperry of Provo believes BYU will compete favorably in the Big 12 and will surprise folks.

“I believe BYU will fare much better in the Big 12 than what the general consensus is out there,” said Sperry. “I went to Dallas and saw BYU beat Oklahoma, I was there when BYU beat Texas in Austin. BYU has a winning record against both Texas and Oklahoma and I was there when BYU beat defending champion Miami. I’ve just seen them beat big-time schools. I just don’t think that we will be as intimidated as people think.”

Veryl Law of Mesa, Arizona, believes the time is ripe for BYU’s athletic programs. He is the son of former Cy Young Award winner Vernon Law and played basketball for the Cougars in the ’70s.

“I’m very excited to see how we are going to do,” said Law. “This is gonna be a big step up for us, and it’s gonna make us have to reach for new heights to be competitive in this league. I’m looking forward to it.”

Aaron Bales of Houston says the Big 12 will see firsthand BYU’s traveling fan base — and it will register.

“I was in attendance for the Texas (Dallas) and Houston games with Taysom Hill. I also went to the Baylor game in Waco two years ago. There were a lot of BYU fans at each of those games. It’s not only that BYU fans travel well; there are a lot of BYU fans in Texas and this is a league based in our state. These will be exciting times.”

Mark Merrill of Orem said there were times the past 12 years he wondered if BYU shouldn’t have left the Mountain West for independence, but then success over teams like Texas, Michigan State, Baylor, USC and others changed his mind.

“Seeing the past decade-plus of playing well is going to finally pay off and show the country what BYU can really do in a major conference now. I can’t wait for my kids to see this next phase of BYU sports playing in a big-time conference.”

John Oldroyd of Orem said what BYU is going to experience in years to come will change the dynamics of the athletic programs and fans.

“It’s going to be magical,” said Oldroyd. 

“Not only for the Big 12 but for BYU. The fans are stepping up, the coaches and players are stepping up, and it’s going to be a great ride. BYU has a great following, so hang on to your hats, Big 12.”

All week long, BYU created events to help fans usher in Big 12 vibes, from a media golf tournament on Monday to the party Saturday.

Head football coach Kalani Sitake continually repeated the refrain that Big 12 Day belonged to fans. Both he and athletic director Tom Holmoe appeared on national media outlets including Sitake’s interview with Jim Rome.

“It’s been awesome,” said Sitake. “The fans are loving it, and I’ve said this before, we’re really excited, the players are excited, the coaches are excited ... but the fans are the key to it. We have an amazing fanbase. ... This is a dream come true for them and you can see the energy they’re coming in with, and I’m looking forward to that advantage this season.”