41202_1173849124272_7307401_nI was a Mizzou fan long before I was a Mizzou student.

In the bedroom of my childhood home is a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings yellowed by age. They chronicle the highlights of the MU football of my youth.

The Tigers were giant killers back then. They would beat the likes of an Notre Dame or USC or Alabama one week and fall to lowly Iowa State the next.

But damn, they had players. Ron Fellows, James Wilder, Henry Marshall, Kellen Winslow, Eric Wright, Johnny Poe, Phil Bradley, Tony Galbreath, Gerry Ellis, Leo Lewis…

We produced plenty of NFL talent but not a lot of collegiate victories. Years like 6-5 and 7-4 were the norm instead of the exception. A bowl game? That was gravy.

But that didn’t matter if you grew up Mizzou. Fall Saturdays at our house were reserved for the boys in Columbia, and we set our clocks to the games.

The family would congregate in a back bedroom, open the windows, feel the breeze and flip on the radio. For three hours, we felt every touchdown, every incompletion, every first down.

We toasted the wins and took the losses personally.

I finally got close to the action when I became a student in 1981. From my grassy seat on the hill, next to the whitewashed “M,” I watched the Golden Girls kicked up their heels and “Spider” Burke lead the cheers.

Through his megaphone, the man in the old-fashioned letter sweater would implore the crowd: “M-I-Z…..Z-O-U.”

When you yelled to Spider’s satisfaction, he gave you a thumbs-up.

Which brings us to 2013.

These Tigers are a different animal, wearing victory as naturally as they do their stripes. The only thing standing between them and an SEC title on Saturday is Auburn.

For those of who suffered through the lean times, nothing would taste sweeter than a berth in the Sugar Bowl.

And our first conference championship since 1969.



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