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Spotting The Differences Between Missouri, SEC Easy For MrSEC.com Writer

(MrSEC.com weekend writer Mike Mitchell made a trip back to his home state of Missouri this past weekend.  During the height of expansion mania, he was at ground zero watching the Tigers fall to Oklahoma State in Columbia.  He filed this report on the many differences he noticed between SEC fans and Mizzou fans.)

 

The headline read “2 cities, 2 very different takes on revered game.”  The topic was baseball and the story focused on the cities of St. Louis and Dallas and their reactions to the World Series.  But the article in the Sunday Post-Dispatch could just have easily described college football, with a comparison between Columbia, Missouri and any tradition-rich SEC town.

“There is just a different feel here,” a Missouri baseball fan was quoted as saying about baseball in the Lone Star state. “The excitement isn’t the same.”

As someone who’s spent the vast majority of his life living in Missouri and Tennessee, I know the feeling. The Missouri Tigers may very well become the 14th member of the Southeastern Conference.  But what separates Columbia, Missouri from Columbia, South Carolina is more than just driving distance.

I’ve spent the last few days in Missouri, with time in both St. Louis and Columbia as the Tigers seemingly inch closer to the SEC.  Here are a few things I’ve noticed from my travels.

Friday: I’m in St. Louis and watch a live video stream of the announcement by the University of Missouri Board of Curators giving Chancellor Brady Deaton permission to talk contracts with other conferences.  Just a few minutes later, I’m in my car and tune in local sports radio to gauge the reaction.  One station was discussing Sam Bradford’s injury and whether the Rams quarterback would answer the bell at Dallas on Sunday (he didn’t). Another station was talking Cardinals baseball and whether they could bounce back in Game 3 of the World Series after a tough loss at home in Game 2 to the Rangers(they did).

In the 20 minutes I’m tuned in, I hear no discussion of Mizzou.

Saturday: I head to Columbia for an early game against Oklahoma State.  It’s a picture-perfect fall day, temperature in the 50’s at kickoff and steadily rising throughout the game. Despite great weather and an undefeated and highly-ranked conference foe in town, the game is not a sellout.  The crowd of 64,000 is about 7,000 short of capacity.

There are little things you notice as well.  Not only are the crowds smaller and not as loud, neither are the bands.  SEC marching bands look like an invading army – covering the field from end zone to end zone.  Marching Mizzou started and ended at the 10-yard lines and looked thin and stretched out in doing so. During games, it seems like an SEC band is a constant presence following nearly every single play.  Here, it’s more sporadic, not as loud, less intimidating.

Whether it’s the band or the crowd, intensity seems the biggest difference.  When I’m at an SEC football game, I get the sense it’s the culmination of a week of planning by players, coaches and fans. What is about to transpire on that football field is THE focus of the weekend.  At Mizzou, the people are friendly, supportive, turn out in their black and gold and cheer on the Tigers.  But when the game ends, they move on with the rest of their day and the rest of their lives.  In SEC Country, a loss stings and lingers.  Here, it tends to quickly evaporate.

I can engage an SEC fan in a conversation about a game and I wouldn’t be surprised to get a lengthy reply on the strengths and weaknesses of an opposing team’s particular offensive or defensive coordinator.

I’ve never heard a similar discussion regarding Mizzou football.  I know I couldn’t name a single non—Missouri coordinator in the entire conference but I could easily rattle off a half-dozen or more from the SEC.  Those types of conversations are part of the DNA of SEC football.

Sunday: I catch an interview with Mizzou Tigers play-by-play announcer Mike Kelly on St. Louis radio.  He’s asked about what he’s hearing from fans regarding the move to the SEC.  He says there was very little chatter the previous weekend at Kansas State about the potential move and on Saturday in Columbia, he heard from one fan about it as he departed the stadium following the game.  One.

On Saturday, I chatted with a couple of people about the Tigers and conference realignment.  Each time, I had to raise the issue. Didn’t hear anyone else discussing it. (For the record, one opposed it, citing tradition and the other supported it – citing the outsized influence of Texas and league instability).

Anecdotal evidence?  Sure. Sweeping generalizations?  You bet. Are there hardcore college football fans in Missouri?  No doubt.  Just as there are casual fans in the SEC.  But the larger truth holds. As one small gauge of intensity, go to Facebook sometime and check out fan pages for various universities and their sports teams.  Most SEC schools will have hundreds of thousands of fans – one Florida Gators group has more than 700,000 followers.  The largest Mizzou group I can find has 198,000 members.

These observations come from years of first-hand experience.  I grew up in Southeast Missouri, spent four years in Columbia and have spent the last two decades moving back and forth between St. Louis and Knoxville, Tennessee.

I’ve always found fascinating the differences in the two sports cultures. You can always tell the dominant sport in a particular region by the year-round chatter on sports radio.  In February in Knoxville,   the talk is the most recent signing class and its impact on the Vols roster in the fall.  In February in St. Louis, the discussion centers on the most recent free-agent signings and the impact on the Cardinals roster that spring.

Which brings me back to where I started.  Can Mizzou, like the Texas Rangers, find championship success without tradition?   Can a football-first Southern culture be transplanted to Mid-Missouri? Can the SEC tide lift the Tigers boat?

I don’t know the answers to those questions but from all indications, it sounds like we’re about to find out.

 


84 comments
rmft
rmft

Great Article

SPOT ON, despite what the 12 missouri fans who follow college football will say

Statesman
Statesman

Interesting read, and I admire your bogus attempt at being objective. However, I do not believe that you are comparing apples to apples. Would you compare Knoxville to Atlanta? A more appropriate comparison would be Atlanta/Athens vs. St. Louis/Columbia. Two major cities w/ pro sports. Wake up on a Saturday and hear what they are discussing in Atlanta. Does Atlanta have the same intensity for UGA as Athens? I think not. But there is still interest. Folks in St.Louis will celebrate the Cards success, especially on the radio station that carries the Cards, but there are other talk radio also discussing Mizzou. Also visiting while the baseball team is in the World Series will definitely skew your argument. If the Cards were not in the Series , not many would be talking baseball now.

shank
shank

SEC should NOT take Missouri. They don't fit the attitude, tradition, or regional values of the SEC. We don't want them and don't need them!!!!!!!!! Are you listening Mr. Slive? We don't want them.

jojo1504
jojo1504

One thing that also has to be stated is that it is that right now MIZZOU is hard to follow on TV not on much unless we are playing TX. Fans will care more and step up when we are in a COLLEGE footbal confrence that everyone is excited about.

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

Simple question for the Missouri posters on here, what does it cost to see a Missouri football game? What does it cost for the whole season? Missouri basketball game? Basketball season tickets?

I am not trying to be grumpy here, but trying to get a gauge on fan demand and expectations. I am pretty sure any SEC poster on here can verify that the "face value" of an SEC football ticket is much different from the "donation value" or the actual "street value" . A Missouri fan above posted about the price of a 40 football ticket, how will the fans feel if the actual cost is much greater? Same for basketball? Granted Kentucky basketball is an extreme, but the actual cost is no where near the face value.

FourThinInches
FourThinInches

Not sure if serious.... Mizzou is 3-4. Why don't you quote attendance from when they had chase daniels and were in big 12 championship games, or when gabbert was there. Kind of skewed data if you ask me and I would compare it to someone from Mizzou or A&M going to a UK game right now to see an SEC game and whining about how quiet and empty the stadium is. Or to an Ole Miss game. Where there was about 50% Arkansas fans in the stands, write an article on that.

I've got better things to do on a saturday then watch a high school team go 4/26 17 yards and 4 int's and lose by 50 to South Carolina or whoever is next on UK's schedule. And don't give me bama, LSU, etc would go and support their team BS, because your teams have never been as atrocious as our current UK team.

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

By the way ... CollegeFootballTalk.com is reporting that the Big 12 basically has West Virginia lined up to take Mizzou's spot. So, it is increasingly looking like it is more a matter of "when" than "if".

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

In fairness, Missouri is historically much more of a basketball school than a football school. Before Gary Pinkel, they really didn't have much football success. It was all about Norm Stewart and the hardwood. Arkansas and Kentucky have strong traditions in basketball, and Florida has been a factor in hoops since the 1990s (if all those Final Four appearances under 2 coaches and 2 national titles counts as "a factor") so they'll be happy to have another peer in that regards. Similar to South Carolina (who was a football wasteland when they joined the SEC) Missouri will start taking football more seriously once they join the SEC, and will finally have the athletics revenue, exposure and wide recruiting area (they enjoyed none of those in the Big 12) to do it with.

FLMizzouFan
FLMizzouFan

So he was in the best baseball city in America and that team is playing in the world series and they were talking about the Cardinals on sports radio. Shocking

MIZ-tn-ZOU
MIZ-tn-ZOU

At least you admit this is all generalizing and anecdotal. I live in SEC country and spent 6 years in Columbia and would objectively estimate that fan interest and gameday atmosphere at Mizzou is in the middle of the pack of SEC schools and on the incline. Also, I don't know if you heard but for some strange reason the refs told the Mizzou band to stop playing when OSU had the ball on Sat. It was mentioned on the radio broadcast and there were articles about it the next day.

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

Here we are back where we started at the culture issue. Folks outside of the SEC just do not get the football culture. While SEC fans may not follow the other sports as much, they at least know the SEC will compete and win. It goes bak to if the SEC can win the media markets in Kansas City and Saint Louis. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee all have college sports at the top of the media food chain. Florida and Texas are more fractured but they are so much bigger there is room to carve out a large number of folks from the state total. The pro sports are strongly entrenched in Missouri, so suddenly a rabid fan base will be there? Still not sure I am buying it!

Arkansas and South Carolina endured a decade of brutal football seasons before they got where they are now. What would happen if Missouri had similar records to South Carolina till they got the hang of it. I remember USC getting 1 win in 2 years of trying. How will the Tiger fans deal with such possibilities? Sewanee and Tulane left when they knew they could not keep up, and Dodds feud with Bryant knocked the Yellow Jackets out. Will Missouri do the same if they can not contribute long term? I know AAU is important but Tulane and Rice have AAU status and nobody talks about adding them to the SEC.

If Missouri joins and 20 years from now they have a loyal but anemic group of fans who can not dominate the media in the state of Missouri, what happens then? You have another mouth to feed that can not feed itself? Oklahoma, Florida State, Texas, Notre Dame, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Clemson and others all seem to have enough dedicated fans to make the numbers work as additive to the SEC averages. The problem is long term because the SEC does not boot out members, and the money will be better in the SEC than the B12. I have been questioning the Missouri numbers this whole time, and here is an example of the future. A top 5 team comes to town on a perfect day and they can not sell it. How are they going to sell VU or UK coming to town with terrible weather and a pro sports event that weekend? How are they going to broaden the numbers of Missouri fans if they go a decade of 0-4 wins a season?

Is Missouri a cultural time bomb that will water down the SEC product and image long term? What happens if the SEC builds it, and the Missouri media numbers do not come?

Tyler B
Tyler B

Very good read, and certainly not a "slanted" piece, simply just an observation for those who are upset about this. I think two points mentioned in the comments section that should be forgotten are the state of affairs of Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and when USC and Arky joined the league. Mizzou will already be mid-level SEC team upon entrance, and once they get a taste of SEC football the momentum and buzz around the football program will only build.

Lw Maxwell
Lw Maxwell

What??? especially when you can tailgate outside the stadium during the game for free during a game you know you are going to lose.
( Know you are going to lose( sound familiar) EXACTLY what I'm saying - It will be empty when you play LSU,Bama, Etc. if fans stay outside and tailgate because they know their gone to lose.. Doesn't sound like a good Twelvth Man, let alone a Fourteenth SEC team.

JD1
JD1

Do you think every radio station in Atlanta talks Dawgs 24/7?

jwh8541
jwh8541

I think the writer over-stated his point in an attempt to draw a clear line. It is true that college football in Missouri is not on a par with the top SEC schools but as noted by others, college football isn't universally regarded even within the SEC.

In the past Mizzou has competed well against the SEC, has a winning record over the most recent 4 or 5 encounters (albeit none against the big dogs) so I think we'll compete well after an initial acclimation period, we won't be doormats.

Fighting Texas Aggie
Fighting Texas Aggie

GeoffDawg, I live in Texas and promise you the Cowboys are not the "number one show in town." Neither are the Texans and neither were the Oilers. Texas has a far more passionate and wide spread college football following with very casual (and fair weather) followers of the NFL teams. The same absolutely cannot be said of Missouri as a state. This is probably the result of Mizzou being the only large university football program in a state with a strong baseball tradition and an NFL team to root for - when the football program has accomplished nothing substantial over the last 25 years (with noteable improvement in the last 5-6). However, a winning tradition is established by consistently winning and the fans and state wide support will follow. Mizzou has the potential to develop into an SEC prototype school, probably resembling UK in "culture" while actually competing in football for an East title. It will just take a little time. Mizzou is a top-level institution everyone in SEC country should be proud of.

By contrast, I am a Texas A&M former student who (along with many thousands of Texas Aggie fans) have been actively lobbying the school for a switch to the SEC. We are absolutely elated to compete in this league and cannot wait for road trips across the south to visit other passionate fan bases. This is a conference move that has occupied the hearts and minds of A&M fans for years.

MIZ_SEC
MIZ_SEC

Yep. No one cares about Mizzou football, yet we were in the top 25 in attendance nationally last year. That home schedule included OU, as well as national heavyweights McNeese State, San Diego State, Miami of Ohio, Colorado, and Kansas State. And somehow we did that without anyone from KC or St. Louis, since all I've heard is that they don't even know college sports exist.

No one cares about Mizzou football, yet we hold the attendance record for College Gameday. I'm sure there is some fluke reason for that too.

No, Mizzou isn't a football blue blood that can fill 100,000 stadiums with ease right now, but guess what? Neither did Arkansas or South Carolina when they came in the SEC. Arkansas has increased their stadium capacity by 56% since they came to the SEC in 1992. And are we really going to pretend that every SEC fanbase is perpetually bonkers for their team? Hell, I seem to remember Florida not coming close to selling their allotment of bowl tickets in Tim Tebow's senior season.

I don't think you'll find one Mizzou fan that will argue the program or its fanbase has hit its peak, and that is one of the largest reasons why we are so excited about going to the SEC. I'm not sure if we will ever match the fervor of Alabama or Tennessee, but I think that's okay if we come close, as Mizzou has a lot more to offer than just football fanaticism.

Micheal Cummings
Micheal Cummings

Okay, i trying to figure out the point of this article, it is like comparing apples with oranges here, Vandy stadium is never packed and some of the fans dont get there until 2nd quarter (No offsense to Vandy fans) and Kentucky too (but they make up the difference in Basketball and other sports). Sure the stadium isnt pack, hell do you think that stadium is going to be pack when they started playing at 11 am or that alot of Missouri folks doesnt really care too much about Mizzou teams until something like this happens. I believe that they are a great fit for SEC. Maybe it is going to take awhile for them to get up to par (Think that South Carolina and Arky had the same problem when they first came in) but in time, they will be on board.

rmft
rmft

And I admire your biased Missouri bogus attempt at being objective regarding this article

not really though

MUMike
MUMike

You make much too much sense, Statesman. Logic is not allowed in the blogosphere.

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

"We" would be shank and his skank. Speaking just for myself, I look forward to welcoming them to the conference any day now.

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

Who is "we"? You and the mouse in your pocket? Speak for yourself, buddy.

Billy
Billy

President Shank - it is good to meet you. Since you speak for the entire fan base of the SEC when you state "We don't want them and don't need them!!!!!!!!!" I for one must have missed the memo directing me to be against expanding our footprint as the top football conference.

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

Nobody would accuse the kittens of being a football power - unless they are collecting social security and remember the Bear - but they have still been in the top 25 in attendance in the country in football the past 5 years according to the NCAA. Mr SEC can probably verify that Kentucky football brings in the lions share of the UK athletic income and they have a basketball arena that seats around 24,000 and can be filled with ease. Still the Kentucky folks showed up for the half century since their glory days and paid the price of admission. Joker is a problem because he is the local boy makes good story, except he may be a step or two above his ability. There were rumblings when he was made the coach in waiting under Brooks, and they will grow until he wins, or he is fired.

jwh8541
jwh8541

Thats absolutely not true.

MU had a fine winning football tradition starting in the 40's under Don Faurot (who left in 56 to kick-start Arkansas btw) through the 60s with Dan Devine who competed for the national title a couple of seasons. 70s was middling, they'd beat #1 Ohio state one year after losing to a bottom dweller that sort of thing.

Basketball at MU was an absolute non-issue until Norm Stewart came along in the 70s. By the 80s he had built a consistent national contender and football had begun its decline, hence your confusion I presume.

rmft
rmft

exactly

nobody in the south cares about baseball. once again, this is a bad fit. Are they gonna wait to play missouri football games until after baseball season from now on? didn't think so

Tyler B
Tyler B

If the "Mizzou Nation" care as much about sports as the fans seem to claim, media members will most definitely write about it. It's not like Mizzou is some expansion team without a history and built-in fan base. This program has historically done well in nearly every aspect, and in just as good or better shape than when Arky and USC joined the SEC, so the Mizzou program and those who follow will only go up from here.

jwh8541
jwh8541

With all due respect Tyler who is in a better position to judge alleged "slantedness" of the article?
Those who go to Columbia or those who've never been there reading one man's opinion?

In another post I acknowledged some truth to the piece but it is a bit biased but its your club and you want to gauge what this prospective new member brings so I'm ok with it.

rmft
rmft

ever listened to Atlanta Radio?

sure they have other topics, but UGA football is always one of them

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

I wish they did but alas I have to sit through way too much Braves / Falcons / Hawks talk. Save that stuff for after college football season.

GeoffDawg
GeoffDawg

I’ll take your word for it as I don’t have a dawg in the fight in Texas. Just the commentary I occasionally hear on national talk shows. To your point though, I agree that interest wanes when you don’t put a competitive team on the field but I think a combination of winning teams and more compelling matchups as well as the hype that surrounds a program that invests heavily in their facilities should prove to be a significant boost to the level of interest.

rmft
rmft

its packed with Bama fans when Bama is in town

ZouGuy3
ZouGuy3

Mizzou has been in top 25 attendance in the country for the past five years.

Tyler B
Tyler B

Trust me, I know all about UK football; season tickets in our family and I've been going to games for the last 25 years.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

How can you say no one in the South cares about baseball? College football is the undisputed #1 for most folks and that's granted, but I don't run into many people who don't at least watch the Braves on a regular basis.

Have you ever noticed how many kids are playing little league and high school baseball and so forth? Look at MLB rosters and you'll find a ton of Southern kids on those rosters.

wcnine
wcnine

There are several radio stations on the St. Louis Cardinals radio network that carry the ballgames in the south. Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee are all represented. Source: List of St. Louis Cardinals Radio Network.

rmft
rmft

they dont. all 12 mizzou fans have found this message board, but they are the only people in that state who care

rmft
rmft

right, b/c Missouri fans aren't biased trying to make themselves seem like a great program

the slant lies with mizzou fans, who live in denial

Tyler B
Tyler B

I agree and you are right. I shouldn't take one man's thoughts as gospel, but it "felt right" and its authenticity made it too easy for me to type my remarks. I'm all for Mizzou joining the SEC and think they're a great fit.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

It's all relative.

The person in the article said he only listened to the sports talk radio for about 20 minutes. That's not a heck of a lot of time. When there are other teams in town then it's only reasonable you give some attention to everyone. I doubt that Mizzou was never a topic on that entire show.

It's a little different here in Alabama as there are no major pro-sports. Alabama and Auburn dominate the air waves. During baseball season you get some Braves talk as most Southerners are at least casual Braves fans and there's always a little coverage about big national stories.

Whenever you have other stories in the state and community though there is always going to be talk about those teams. I heard someone say a few years ago that more people call into Nashville sports radio to talk about the Titans than the Vols these days. I don't know if that is still true though.

It's all relative.

AtlJS
AtlJS

LOL,,,,,,twenty-SIXTH, NOT twenty-fifth! Guess you showed him. Sheesh.

rmft
rmft

they aren't... but dont try to make it sound better by saying top 25... if you are 26

just say 26

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

Because top 25 and top 26 are so different.....

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

WDE>Bammer is correct!

Look up every year in the NCAA and you will see this is not true. I posted somewhere on a previous Mr SEC thread because I did not link each year. I went through each year, and ZouGuy3 is wrong, but appears to gung ho to state the true facts. If you want the real numbers look at my comment in part #7 - Stadium Size in Mr SEC's thread.

John, is it okay to put up links, if it is to your own site?

WDE>Bammer
WDE>Bammer

Another factually inaccurate statement from the Mizzou folks. Missouri was 26th in average attendance last year.

Tyler B
Tyler B

And in the past 25 years there have only been about 10-15 great games. Mostly, it's something to do to wait until basketball seaon.

jwh8541
jwh8541

"nobody sees value in your program". lol

Narcissists do that a lot. Confuse their opinion with everyone.

But hopefully the deal gets done so I can enjoy life in the SEC. You should step outside take a deep breath and try to enjoy life too all that bitterness aint healthy..

rmft
rmft

yep they see value in TV dollars

nobody sees value in your program. But if thats cool with ya'll I guess its cool with us

enjoy life as the SEC doormat

jwh8541
jwh8541

I've read several your posts not sure why you are so bitter but in the interest of truth I never said we had a "great" program.
Sadly for you SEC sees value in adding MU so I guess you should un-keister and learn to live with it.

StL-Tiger
StL-Tiger

We MU fans are a mixed bag. Some are fairly casual, and worry more about the Cardinals, or the Chiefs. The Royals and Rams aren't good enough to merit much attention, although they get it anyway in their home cities. On the other end of the spectrum, there are many fans such as myself who are kind of annoyed that all this World Series coverage is interfering with football season. My only interest in the NFL is to see how the MU alums are doing.

As for last Saturday, OSU isn't exactly a rival. They upset us a couple years back at home, but before that they were an anonymous B12 South team as far as we were concerned. There's no real hate there. It doesn't excuse empty seats or silence on defense in my mind, but some MU fans have to be cajoled - unless of course we're playing OU, KU, Nebraska or Texas.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the SEC, planning trips all over the south, and can't wait to welcome some of football's most storied programs to Faurot Field.

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