Opinion: Rowdy fan behavior to be expected in Big 12

A recent article published in these pages decried the recent garbage-tossing binge of some in the student body, and seemed to yearn for those "good ol' days" back in the Mountain West.

While it is true that chucking an empty beer can will accomplish nothing and is generally a terrible idea, one has to wonder at the article's message. Are university students bad as a whole?

Was the rowdiness displayed in both the Iowa State and Texas Tech games too much? That, it seems, was the implied message, and it is false.

TCU's run in the Mountain West was a fine time for the program. The glories of Dalton & Co., College Gameday on campus and a spectacular win at the 2011 Rose Bowl were certainly historic. 

Yet, each of those events occurred in–dare it be said?–a lesser conference. TCU was always on the outside looking in, a great program whose accomplishments were downplayed because of who it defeated during the regular season. And that's just it. The Mountain West was great, but the competition was not nearly so fierce or interesting as the teams encountered in our first Big 12 season.

With better–and frankly, better known–opposition comes greater interest and excitement. People who used to leave Mountain West games at halftime for the tailgates are now staying until the game is over.  Fans are more energized. Amon Carter is actually full and the people are loud (at least relative to how they used to be). 

So what's the problem here? A few idiots throwing garbage? Puuhleaaasse.

Welcome to the Big 12, people. The stage is bigger, the lights are brighter, the fans are louder. If one is worried about the recent conduct of a few TCU fans, please attend a football game at another major-conference school. 

It's almost certain you will encounter significantly more insults. Fans care at this level of competition and it's reassuring to see the TCU faithful get into the games in a way that was lacking in most Mountain West contests.

Garbage-throwing is a misplaced outlet for the right emotions. People care about these games. Fans want to see a game against Iowa State or Texas Tech or Kansas State or Oklahoma. The closeness of the spreads and the possibility of a loss makes the games all the more compelling. Fans will scream their heads off if they know the game is significant, and in the Big 12 every game is significant.

The old ways of the old days in the Mountain West will not do. Early departure from the stadium, half-full attendance and lackluster interest in the game are vestiges of another time in another conference. 

There is nothing wrong with bringing the noise and a bit of emotion as well. Fans ought to be applauded, not denounced. This is the Big 12. The noise, emotion and interest displayed by Frog fans is great, even if some would prefer to focus on a few outliers in a sea of supporters.

Brendan McNeal is a senior history major from Boulder, Colo.