Not to be outdone by The Mighty Utah Student Section, also known as The MUSS, other areas of Rice-Eccles Stadium are getting in on the fan frenzy. Commonly called The NEZ (short for the North End Zone) by ticket holders, the northern end of the field has been slowly gaining momentum as the spots where fans are known for keepings things raucous, fun, and sometimes even a little racy, come game time.
This year, the University of Utah decided to use the growing popularity of this section as a marketing tool to make it into an official fan section called, "The North." Those that are interested in sitting in that section and becoming a part of The North’s fan movement can join the club that includes an official membership card, a discount on Utes merchandise at the campus bookstore, a special exclusive fan event and a T-shirt. They have also tried to capture the mystique that defines the section. According to the University of Utah athletics website, "The North is more than a section in the stadium. It is a living, breathing part of the Utah football experience. We’re a section that prides ourselves in letting our opponents feel our presence. Opponents can feel the intensity on their jerseys on 3rd and goal."
It is perhaps the intensity of the North End Zone that has prompted first fans and then university marketing executives to catch onto the passion that was growing there. On a Saturday game day, it is that area of the field that generally seems to have an edge to it. It is an older crowd than The MUSS, but the adults in this section are generally rowdy and loud, particularly when the action moves to their end of the field. It is sort of the adult answer for an older fan that wants to have as much fun as the student section. The Utah site describes it as, "The North has a presence that can’t be ignored or denied. Opponents fear our tenacity, respect our passion, and appreciate how we treat them and their fans with dignity. We are fanatical, deafening, and show no end to our resolve to support our team. We are relentless from introductions to the final 0:00 on the scoreboard."
This tenacity has definitely brought a sort of "street cred" to the older, wilder northern section, but that relentless passion has gotten a little out of hands at times. A quick search on the internet will net a video of a NEZ fan baring her "assets" during the Utah/TCU game in 2010. During a game where the Utes were getting crushed by the then No. 3-ranked Horned Frogs, an inebriated and tattooed female evidently felt the need to give the fans in her section something to cheer about by going "Girls Gone Wild" style and removing her top. While that display may be a little over the top, NEZ fans definitely are creating their own distinct atmosphere, represented by passionate and vocal fans. In fact, the NEZ prides themselves on their ability to create false start penalties, something opposing teams need to be aware of any time they enter Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Members of The MUSS may want to look out, because there’s a movement that’s only just started to erupt to The North of them that is fast becoming an important part of Utah football games.