Notebook: Missouri’s home opener sees changing landscape, traditions at Memorial Stadium

Coach Barry Odom was thankful for the crowd during Saturday’s win over West Virginia.
Missouri students wave stadium-issued tiger tails during Saturday's home opener against West Virginia. The tails replaced Missouri's previous tradition of jangling keys on third down. Madeline Carter

While Missouri fans could most certainly spot Memorial Stadium’s newest addition growing over the past year, they finally got the chance to see it up close during Saturday’s home-opening win against West Virginia.

The South Endzone — which last season was just an assortment of cranes — offered fans club and suite-style seating as well as member-only access to the Bunker Club, which the Tigers emerged from to enter the field Saturday morning. Fans within the club were able to high-five players as they ran out.

“It was crazy,” sophomore linebacker Nick Bolton said. “Fans jumping up and down for the first time since I’ve been here. It’s just great to get a win at home for our fans.”

Not only did the South Endzone provide a new experience for fans, it also changed the on-field experience for players and coaches.

“I feel like the sound bounces off of [the South Endzone] a little bit,” coach Barry Odom said.

That sound came from 51,215 fans inside Memorial Stadium. Last year’s home-opening win against UT Martin had only 44,019 people in attendance.

“I’m very thankful for the crowd that was there today,” Odom said. “I felt them. I felt the energy in the stadium. I felt them on third down when the defense was out there. I felt them when we scored, had a tough run by [Larry] Rountree or [Tyler] Badie, finishing a block. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, man.”

Third down, tails up

Although the jangling of keys certainly makes sense while a defense tries to make a stop on third down — often referred to as a “key down” — there’s nothing innately unique about the tradition.

Various schools have used it over the years, including Missouri.

This season, though, Missouri opted for a change in tradition, handing out plush Tiger tails to fans as they entered. The result was a sea of spinning tails on third down, not just within the student section, but around the entire stadium.

The new tradition was announced in a press release Sept. 4, and demonstrated on the jumbotron by junior running back Larry Rountree III in a pre-recorded video.

Fans are encouraged to bring the Tiger tails back each game, with only 75,000 being handed out throughout the season.

Another change in tradition was the playing of the Missouri Waltz. Normally played by Marching Mizzou between the third and fourth quarters, the song was played following the conclusion of the first instead. No mention of this change was made prior to the game.

Booze brings shenanigans to jumbotron

Saturday saw Memorial Stadium’s first go at alcohol sales inside the gates, a change that was announced on Aug. 9 in accordance with recent Southeastern Conference policy changes.

Beer and wine were sold in 20 percent of concession stands around the stadium, although none near the student section. There was also a beer garden and brewhouse where of-age attendees could enjoy a drink.

Anheuser-Busch products, as well as a handful of local craft beers, are among the options to choose from this fall. Fans seated at club level have a few extra brews to choose from.

With the booze sales came inevitable jumbotron shenanigans, including Memorial Stadium’s first Baker Mayfield-esque beer chug.

Athletic department officials have emphasized the importance of safety over revenue in almost every press release concerning the new policies. As part of that focus and because of SEC policy, booze sales end with the conclusion of the third quarter.

MUPD has also worked closely with Mizzou Athletics to ensure a smooth transition into this new gameday tradition.

Edited by Wilson Moore |

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