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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Column: Homecoming rich in Missouri football history

Oct. 14, 2011

As a sophomore, I have only had the privilege of experiencing Homecoming at Mizzou one time. What a time it was. Playing Oklahoma on a national stage and getting the victory made the 99th homecoming at Mizzou one of the best in recent memory. Students were able to get up early for ESPN’s “College GameDay” and stay up late with the celebration lasting late into the night and early morning.

I have to think the tradition of Homecoming here at Mizzou is unlike any other in the country. Students and fans get hyped up the entire week in Greek Life, while residence halls and student organizations get creative and show off their school spirit. This is one of the best times to be at Mizzou and I expect the 100th homecoming to be nothing short of extraordinary.

The Homecoming tradition started with, in my opinion, one of the greatest rivalries in sports, MU vs. KU. In the past, the football games were held on neutral sites. Most of the games were played in Kansas City, except one that was played in the glorious city, and my hometown of St. Joseph. But the game got moved to the college campuses.

Former MU Athletic Director Chester Brewer wanted to give the game a little extra boost and have the game be something special. So he decided to invite alumni to “come home” for the new and improved event. A parade and a spirit rally were also added on to go along with the game. It has remained a Mizzou tradition for 100 years and has also been replicated by many other schools in their own Homecomings.

Throughout the years Homecoming has changed while also sticking to what Brewer initially had in mind. I couldn’t imagine he ever expected that Mizzou’s Homecoming would be televised to a national audience, fans would break the record for largest attendance at ESPN's "College GameDay" and Mizzou would beat the No. 1 ranked team in the country and rush the field. Each year has more excitement and more reasons to inspire fans to get out to the game, parade and pep rally to support the Tigers.

Although last year might be hard to top, this year looks to be another exciting time for Mizzou’s football team and fans. Year in and year out there are always new things to get players and fans ready to cheer the Tigers on to victory. This year, Mizzou has been hit with some tough losses to Arizona State, Oklahoma and Kansas State. Falling to a 2-3 record, there is a sense of urgency to turn the season around.

What better place to do that then on Homecoming? Iowa State comes at 3-2 on a two game losing streak to a couple of top 25 ranked opponents. This game could easily be in the Tigers' favor if they play up to the potential that we have seen at times this season.

The Homecoming tradition is one that Mizzou cherishes. A hundred years ago the Kansas Jayhawks came in and more than 9,000 students, fans and alumni showed up to cheer on the Tigers. Today, Faurot Field averages around 61,000 people per game. The times may have changed, but Homecoming at Mizzou is still one of the most passionate and exhilarating displays in the country.

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