BY MICHAEL LEESE
It just so happened that I was in a hotel elevator in Memphis when I spotted a gentleman wearing his Missouri Tiger gear. I asked what he was doing in Memphis and he replied that he and a few friends were on their way to the Mississippi game that Saturday. A friendship was kindled and I was asked if I would like to attend their official tailgate party for the Texas A&M game. I accepted, of course, and eventually enjoyed some of the finest Chili I have tasted!
Anyhow, the first thing you notice about being in Columbia, Missouri for a Tiger football game is the fans! The fan base here is hungry for an SEC Championship and is totally committed to the success of the football program. Mizzou fans wanted to talk about getting to the Rose Bowl and playing for a National Championship, and let me tell you, they had it all figured out. Many of the fans I talked to had been nervous about the move from the Big 12 to the SEC. They had wondered if they were going to be able to compete in the conference. I think that question has been answered this season.
FOOTBALL BEGINS……The first Missouri football team took the field in 1890. The Tigers played their first two seasons as an independent, then the school then joined the Western Interstate University Football Association, where they played from 1892-97. The Tigers were independent again until 1907 when they joined a forerunner of the Big Eight Conference where they stayed until it became the Big 12 in 1996. In 2012 the Tigers jumped from the Big 12 and joined the SEC along with Texas A&M. This is their second season in SEC play.
BOWL HISTORY . . . . The Tigers have appeared in 29 bowl games including nine major bowl appearances. They’ve played in four Orange Bowls, two Sugar Bowls, two Cotton Bowls, and the Fiesta Bowl. Missouri has won 15 conference titles, and has two national championship selections recognized by the NCAA, but not officially by the school, including the 2007 Anderson & Hester National Championship. The team is coached by Gary Pinkel, who is the winningest coach in school history with 112 victories!
Missouri did not field a football team in 1918 due to World War 1, but did field a team in 1919 despite not having a coach! Don Faurot is widely thought of as the man who put Missouri on the football map. He coached the Tigers from 1935-42 and again from 1946-56. In 19 years as the Tiger football coach, Faurot’s record was 101 wins, 79 losses and 10 ties, a record that remained until current coach Gary Pinkel shattered the record this season. Faurot is credited with inventing the split-T formation, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1961. The playing surface at Missouri’s Memorial Stadium was named Faurot Field in his honor in 1972.
TIGER TRADITIONS……Truman the Tiger was introduced as the Missouri mascot before a game against the Utah State Aggies in 1986. He is named after former President Harry S. Truman, a Missouri native. Truman has been named the “Nation’s Best Mascot” three times since 1986, most recently in 2004.
THE ROCK M……The north end zone at Memorial Stadium is guarded by a block “M” carved from stone by the freshman class in 1927. The “M” is 90-feet wide and 95-feet high, and is formed by whitewashed rocks. It gives Memorial Stadium one of the most unique stadium landmarks in the country. Mizzou’s yearbook, the Savitar, recounted the debut of the Missouri landmark on Oct. 1, 1927, when the Tigers defeated Kansas State, 13-6.
Five-hundred freshmen joined hands and encircled the cinder track in a single line while the band played ‘Old Missouri’ in the center of the field. The “M” has weathered the good and bad times. In 1957, a group of pranksters changed the “M” to an “N” the night before the Missouri-Nebraska game. But, the Mizzou groundskeeper, with the help of some young boys who gained free admission to the game in exchange for their assistance, restored the “M” to his proper form before kickoff.
THE COLUMNS……One of the most photographed sites in Missouri, the Columns represent the core of MU’s pride and tradition. The six Ionic Columns that stand in the center of Francis Quadrangle are all that remain of the old Academic Hall that was destroyed by fire on January 9, 1892.The Quadrangle and its Columns are fond symbols of MU and the witness to many events annually. They remain to honor the many generations of students and faculty who have passed in their shadow.
RECORD BREAKING SEASON IN THE MAKING?……Only once in Mizzou history have the Tigers won 12 games. That was back in 2007, as quarterback Chase Daniel led the team to a 12-2 mark and a victory over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. This year, the squad stands at 11-1 and will play Auburn in the SEC Championship Saturday in Atlanta. A victory over Auburn could put the Tigers in the Rose Bowl and an opportunity to win a BCS National Championship! The only blemish on the season is a 27-24 double overtime loss to South Carolina.
THE GAME……The Tigers struggled throughout the first half as Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel managed to build a 14-7 halftime advantage. The Tigers roared early in the third quarter, getting touchdowns from Marcus Murphy and L’Damian Washington to take a 21-14 lead. The Aggies’ Ben Malena scored on a seven-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 21-21, setting the stage for a nail-biting finish. Henry Josie put the game away for the Tigers with 3:34 remaining, scoring on a beautiful 57-yard run! The Tiger defense held the Aggies to 379 total yards on the night.
I want to thank all the great people I was fortunate enough to meet on my stay in Columbia. I look forward to coming back in the near future! I am off to Cincinnati for a huge showdown with the Louisville Cardinal for the Keg of Nails and a potential American Conference title.
Planning a bowl trip? Check out our sponsor BOWLJET.com
Capital One Bowl – Bowl Package for 4 for $999 featuring prime sideline seating, 4-star hotel in the best Bowl Week location, gameday transit and much more. Or choose the best seats in house.
Cotton Bowl – Bowl Package for 4 for $999 featuring great seats, nice hotel and more. Or choose a Front Row Package, or Club Seating Package.
Outback Bowl – Bowl Package for 4 for $999 featuring lower level sideline, great party-central hotel and more. Or choose Club Seating, and more. Wonderful tailgate.
Packages will be out in the next few days — Call us at 2-4 The Bowls with any questions. Experience the Best Bowl Trip Ever!
Like going on the road to see other teams stadiums and traditions? Checkout “My Gameday Experience at,”