First-time poster from Georgia here. Just to be clear, I am not well acquainted with the BYU Cougars (but as an SEC guy, I did watch closely your tough night against LSU). However, I have a niece who is attending your school. We talk football a lot, and she recently informed me that she is part of the “ROC” student section.
First, I find this strange because we don’t really nickname our student sections in my neck of the woods. The Bulldogs are the Bulldogs. The Yellow Jackets are the Yellow Jackets (or the Ramblin’ Wreck). Second, when she told me about the ROC, I just assumed she was saying “rock.” Solid, strong. I get that.
Silly, but I thought since BYU is a Mormon school, the nickname was a religious thing, as in the “rock of salvation” or something. My wife did too. But then our niece laughed and said, “No. It means Roar of Cougars.”
As a biologist, I’m a bit embarrassed on BYU’s behalf, and I feel I have to explain something: Cougars (in the sciences we prefer the name “puma,” but out here most people say “panther”) literally can’t roar. They are small cats (Felinae) that lack the larynx and the hyoid bone that make it possible for big cats (Pantherinae) to roar.
When I explained this to my niece, but she said, “Cougars do roar! They play the sound of cougars roaring all the time at games.” I asked her to find me the sound she was referring to, and she pulled up a video on her phone.
I hate to break it to you as I broke it to her, but that sound is not a roar. In fact, it is entirely unnatural and edited, I suppose to make it sound menacing and impressive. Trust me, there is no such sound in nature. Listen to any raw sound of a cougar and you’ll see what I mean.
Technically, cougars hiss or growl (which sounds most like the manufactured sound my niece played for me). Females also scream when they are in heat. When I told my niece the student section should really be called the HOC (Hiss of Cougars), GOC (Growl of cougars) or SOC (Scream of cougars), she rolled her eyes at me and left the room.
Now, I will say this: I am a diehard Falcons fan, but I do go to a lot of Panthers games. They play they same type of phony cougar sound at Bank of America as the one at the BYU stadium. But it’s not a roar. That's a scientific impossibility.
My wife thinks I am crazy, but I just felt like I had to set the record straight, which is why I came to your board today. If you want a cool-sounding nickname, at least make it accurate. I’m surprised a major college that teaches the sciences hasn’t fixed this already.
Just had to get that off my chest.
A concerned scientist