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Jay Drew
Jay covers BYU athletics for The Salt Lake Tribune. You can follow him on Twitter @drewjay.

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Riley recoils at fair-weather BYU football fans

Dripping wet after spending time in an an ice pool after BYU practiced outdoors Wednesday night, and shivering dozens of times, BYU quarterback Riley Nelson was in no mood to hear tales of how some fans have given up on the Cougar football team.

"Shame on them," Nelson said as temperatures dropped into the 50s. He declined an opportunity to go into the locker room and dry off before the interview with four or five reporters.

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Asked to elaborate, Nelson talked about something he read in the Daily Universe, BYU's school newspaper.

"There is still a lot of season left, and we can still have a great season. I saw a tweet in our school newspaper that said BYU football season is over, let's concentrate on basketball. I feel bad for that guy, and yeah, he declared. He's not a true fan, he's not invested, and we are. I know there are still a lot of fans and a lot of people outside the program that are, and we are not going to let them down."

Riled up a bit, Nelson responded to a question about what a win over No. 5 Notre Dame would mean to the program by saying: "It would make us 5-3, which is better than 4-4. So that's what we are hoping to do."

Before a reporter could finish a question about the impact Notre Dame's atmosphere and mystique would have on the Cougars, Nelson interrupted with "none, none. It is the No. 5 team in the country. That's what I am most excited about."

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Coach Bronco Mendenhall said motivation won't be an issue for the Cougars this week when he was asked what the team has to play for.

"I think we framed it just to keep building our program, building our team, and I really haven't seen anything to indicate anything like that. Maybe the outside world feels that way. But that's certainly not what we think inside. And when you consider again, just this particular game, it is a pretty good reason to play."

Mendenhall said he hasn't decided yet whether he will talk much about Notre Dame's history and tradition this week.

"This particular team, I think needs as much focus on just continuing to play, and improving as much as possible. So I hate to sacrifice that and [have] lack of balance. I will have to decide. I usually talk to them on Thursday, so I am not sure whether it will be the same."

Does the coach worry about losing support from the fans if the losses pile up?

"Yeah, I have learned my support is conditional. The bigger picture is that in order to continue to perform and be on the national stage, I am not satisfied with being in the top 25. I want to be more than that. So yeah there's risk. However, what if you win those games? And what if the support grows? So, I guess you can look at it either way."



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