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Making sense of “The MUSS”

Front Row of The MUSS

Photo credit: Ty Cobb

The Mighty Utah Student Section has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since its relatively recent inception (2002) when it had only 800 members. Today, The MUSS boasts over 6,000 ravenous, crimson-clad, Utah Ute fanatics; sometimes it has to turn students away because there are simply not enough tickets.

U alum Jared Whitley writes about how the derivation of The MUSS acronym helped give meaning to a curious term in the Utah fight song at

Here’s a snippet of Whitney reminiscing about a column he wrote in 2002:

While the music [of the U's fight song] is catchy and invigorating, the lyrics are mind-bogglingly lame, including phrases such as:

We’re up to snuff, we never bluff, we’re game for any fuss.
No other gang of college men dare meet us in the muss.

Use of the word “muss” particularly irked me, in that nobody could give me a clear definition of what it meant. The best theory I heard was that “muss” was a Prohibition-era term for brawl or scrum.

Apparently my column struck a chord with some quick-thinking football fans on campus. The then-newly formed Utah student football club latched onto this idea, and renamed the student seating-area the “Mighty Utah Student Section.”