Questioning my fanhood


Missouri has never been to a Final Four. Ever. Seriously.

As soon as the girlfriend left to pick up dinner, I walked into the bed room, took one look at my Missouri shirt, pulled it off my body and launched it across the room. Pure frustration. For the first time in 26 years, I questioned why I’ve been following this team.

So many tough losses, unfathomable endings, gut-wrenching disappointments. Seemingly little payback for being a loyal, not to mention ticket- and paraphernalia-buying, fan. That’s where it stands. Described by the girlfriend as “Mr. Mizzou” to her friends and family, I’m questioning my, gulp, fanhood.

It wasn’t so much losing to a Kansas State team that has nowhere near the talent Missouri does as it was the way they lost. Completely, utterly, ridiculously uninspiring, listless football. This is not what a large legion of fans deserves. Not after years of disappointment. Years of patience. Years of waiting. Same crap, different year.

Happier times in Manhattan a few weeks ago. The same team that squeaked by Eastern Kentucky manhandled Missouri on Saturday.

A friend once described Missouri fans as the Chicago Cubs fans of college athletics. It’s not a bad comparison. The last time the football team won a conference title, Moses wasn’t born. OK, it was 1969. Still, that’s ridiculous. The basketball team has one championship – a conference tournament title in 2009 – in the last 17 years.

That’s inexcusable for the only major college in the state. A state with two big metro areas – St. Louis and Kansas City – to recruit. As Gary Pinkel would say, remarkable.

Missouri football has been pretty good the last several years. I’ll give Gary Pinkel that. Hell, the Tigers were one half away from playing for a national championship in 2007.

There have been some great moments, like storming the field with the old man after upsetting No. 1 Oklahoma. Of course, Mizzou followed it up with losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech.

But even that season had its devastation. First, melting down in the second half of a tie game against Oklahoma for the conference title in 2007, then getting worked out of BCS bid by corrupt Orange Bowl officials and a rogue, shady athletics director.

Throw in Tyus Edny’s miracle in 1995, the flea-kicker in 1997, the fifth down in 1990, four losses in the Elite Eight … it’s really pretty amazing how many times the impossible has happened to Old Mizzou.

Did Shevin Wiggins cheat to help win the flea-kicker game in 1997? We'll never know.

Maybe I was spoiled by 40 wins in four years. Probably shouldn’t be the case considering Missouri barely won 40 games in the 1980s and 1990s. But, at the very least as a fan, you expect a decent effort and competent coaching. That’s why it’s so damn frustrating.

So, I didn’t wear any Missouri gear today. Those of you who know me probably just said, “Woah.” Those of you who don’t … if I’m not at work or at a function for work, I’ve probably got something with an “M” on. That was my response to a hideous performance, the latest in three decades worth of disappointments.

I swore up and down Saturday evening I wasn’t watching another Missouri football game this year. After all, my alma mater, Washburn, is undefeated and ranked in the top five in Division II. Instead of having two teams, might be time for one  team for a while.

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this, Mr. Mizzou,” the girlfriend said.

I can’t either. But I’m officially on strike … until Saturday’s game.


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