September 21, 2011

Powered Up: Looking back, looking forward

Let's get the clarification out of the way: Last year has nothing to do with this year. Missouri beat Oklahoma 36-27 a year ago, but the Tigers don't get to start with a nine-point lead because of it (if that was the case, can you imagine how badly Missouri would have lost to the Sooners the year after the 77-0 Norman Conquest?)

We get that. But how can you not talk about last year?

Homecoming 2010 was the greatest day in the lives of many, many Missouri football fans. They packed the Quad for Game Day by 6 a.m. They went to the parade, they tailgated, they partied. And they hoped.

All day long they hoped. Maybe this was the year. Maybe, finally, the Tigers could knock off the big dog on the block. Gary Pinkel had done so many great things for the football program. He had clawed his way from a doormat to national respectability and prominence. He had played in Big 12 title games. And he had never beaten Oklahoma or Texas.

The whole day was a spectacle. I stood on the steps of the Journalism School where I'd spent so many hours of my life and looked out at the crowd of thousands that included my wife (who may not have even known Missouri had a football team before we met, and certainly couldn't have told you what conference they played in-but to be fair, I'm not sure anyone can answer the second question anymore) and my two boys, one of whom grew up a Tiger fan and died a little when Brad Smith graduated and a little more when I told him Mizzou had lost to Oklahoma and we weren't taking a family trip to the Sugar Bowl; one of whom couldn't name a single player on the Missouri team or care about anything at a football game other than when he could get his next snack. I stood and watched that scene. And I admit to nostalgia. I remember telling my wife, "Wow. I never thought I'd see this. Not here."

Until 7:00, the day was great. It was a day many would have remembered for years. But it wasn't complete. Completion didn't come until the game was decided. Before the game, it was a really good day. After the game, it was a day few who were there will ever forget.

That's the fan's side of things. But what about those who were directly involved? I asked some of the Missouri players what they remember about that game nearly a year later. Here are their responses

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