“Hello, Georgia! Welcome to Columbia!”
That’s all we heard in the hours leading up to Mizzou’s first battle in the Southeastern Conference.
As we wandered around the campus, everyone seemed so hospitable, a rare occurrence for those of us that regularly attend SEC away games.
At first I thought the country’s best conference would be a good fit for Mizzou. But I soon realized what a far-fetched fit the Tigers are for the SEC.
Never mind the fact that their spread offense is going to be pounded week after week by some of the biggest and best defenses in the nation. I’m more concerned with their fan atmosphere, which doesn’t quite match our own.
I quickly became agitated when I realized that Mizzou fans’ friendliness was nothing more than quiet cockiness. By the time the night game rolled around, I was ready to give them a good old-fashioned beat down.
Georgia fans packed into three corners of the Zou early, all dressed up in their sundresses or Saturday best. Meanwhile, Mizzou fans filed into the stadium wearing yellow T-shirts and blue jeans. Only the Gators I see down in Jacksonville struggle more with SEC attire.
It was around this time that we first heard the chant that later became like nails on a chalkboard.
Whereas we have a plethora of battle cries and cheers, that was about their only one, and they did it over and over and over again.
I’d rather sit next to a screaming baby on a 24-hour plane ride.
When the game started, Mizzou ripped the welcome mat right from under all of us who had traveled halfway across the country for the game.
They displayed no dignity or class while our teams battled on the field.
A good number of their players were shaken up or injured during the sixty minutes of game play. And every time, we waited patiently for them to make it to the sidelines.
But the first time one of our own went down, they booed him incessantly. I had never seen anything like it.
Up to that point, no one had booed that loudly since Michael Adams had been introduced before the game — that was about the only thing Georgia and Mizzou fans agreed on.
Even the event staff manning the entrance next to our seats thought it was okay to taunt us.
“Wow, this is the SEC? Y’all are terrible. Are you a Braves fan, too? They can’t beat the Cardinals, either.”
After a heated exchange, the scrawny twerp overseeing our section had the nerve to sic a couple of Missouri state troopers on us.
We greatly appreciated the gesture, as it only took us a few minutes to have him escorted out of his own stadium. It wasn’t our first rodeo at an away game, friend.
After a rough first half, our team began performing like we knew it could, and a little bit of “old man” football was enough to silence the Mizzou crowd. A little too quickly, I would say.
The score was 27-20 with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, and the yellow began flooding out of the stadium.
Seriously? Where was their loyalty? Their team could have still won it all.
Now, maybe they all have crystal balls in the Show Me State. But regardless, the team needed its fans, and its fans were nowhere to be found.
The reason the Southeastern Conference works is because its members share many of the same traditions and characteristics — all of which seemed to be lacking in Columbia.
Time will tell whether our third Tiger team will assimilate into our football culture, but one thing is for certain.
This isn’t Big 12 football. We’re bigger. We’re tougher. We play defense. We win, and we win with class. And if the newbies are unable to conform, then they’ve got a long road ahead of them.
Hello, Missouri. Welcome to the SEC.
— Jeremy Dailey is a second-year law student from Watkinsville with a degree in political science