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Sports | Published Aug. 31, 2013 | 0 comments

Fans brave the heat to tailgate

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Chuck Link cuts steak for one of his famous sandwiches. Ben Kothe/Staff Photographer

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Chuck Link flips a steak at his tailgate before Missouri takes on Murray State. Ben Kothe/Staff Photographer

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Tailgater extraordinaire and MU football alumnus Chuck Link. Ben Kothe/Staff Photographer

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Judie and Steve Richey enjoy their time before the game cooking and entertaining Ben Kothe/Staff Photographer

Tags: Football

Seasoned MU fans make annual pilgrimage for season opener.

Despite the heat, Missouri fans still showed up to tailgate before the football home opener Saturday.

“This is the hottest game I’ve ever been to,” John Grisham, 49, who graduated from MU in 1986 said. “(But) we are out here no matter what.”

Temperatures hovered around 100 degrees in Columbia on Saturday, and it felt even hotter on a sun-soaked asphalt parking lot. Grisham and his tailgate crew did have some relief, though, as his party bus was air-conditioned on the inside.

The bus is a dilapidated, former Pentecostal church bus and, after renovations, is complete with a TV and stereo in the trunk, leather couches inside and a bathroom with a Jayhawk hanging from a noose.

“We’ll be here until midnight, and we tear down after everyone’s gone,” Grisham said.

The heat somewhat thinned out the usual crowds, that also didn’t stop Bill Miller Sr., 83, who sat in the shade, wearing a black polo and khaki pants with a needlepoint belt.

“We’ve sat out here before hot games,” Miller said. “(Going into the tailgate) I wasn’t concerned about the heat.”

Miller said that this wasn’t the hottest tailgate he’s ever attended, but back when he was a student in the 1950s, men wore a sport coats and ties to games, even for the hottest contests.

His friend, Bob Hansen, said he was more concerned about the player’s safety. Today, on-field temperatures soared to more than 150 degrees.

Although he never played on the steamy turf, tailgater Chuck Link was a running back and wide receiver for Missouri from 1971-1973. In a sweat-soaked white T-shirt, he recounted stories of playing in the Fiesta and Sun Bowls and scoring three touchdowns in one game.

Currently, he proclaims himself as the best gameday cook around Faurot Field, grilling up tenderloin and rib eye along with the usual hamburgers and hot dogs. He owned restaurants around St. Louis for over 25 years, including Rick’s Café.

He likes to watch games from his tailgate site on a flat screen TV with a satellite hookup under a shady tent, which, on a hot game like today, isn’t such a bad idea.

“Close to the hottest game I’ve ever been to here,” he said, “(but) I enjoy supporting the University.”

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