There's a special atmosphere about Columbia on the eve of Mizzou's GameDay appearance and showdown with Oklahoma. (Photo by JJ Stankevitz)
Around 10:45 Friday morning, I figured I’d head over to ESPN’s GameDay set on the quad at Mizzou to see what the crowd was like. I didn’t figure it would be anything special—most Friday GameDay tapings often feature students walking behind the set, not paying much attention to what’s going on.
But as soon as I cast my eyes on the quad for the first time Friday, I knew that wasn’t the case.
One member of Mizzou Athletics media relations estimated there were around 2,500 fans packed behind ESPN’s set, and that number sounds about right to me. The fans were vocal, too—the first chant I heard was “HEIS-MAN! HEIS-MAN!” directed at GameDay analyst and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.
It may be cliche to say this, but I’ll say it anyway: I could really feel the electricity of the crowd at GameDay. On a Friday.
I think this town is ready for some football.
But that buzz wasn’t contained between the columns and GameDay set on the quad. The MU Bookstore was packed—no, seriously, it was packed—in a way I haven’t seen in my four years on this campus. The checkout line was so long it made this shot look like a layup.
A lot of times, us students forget there’s a city outside of campus. So many times, us reporting students have been told to get off campus and see how everyone in this city not connected to the university lives.
But, from being about the city, there aren’t too many people who aren’t connected to the university, at least for this weekend.
While waiting for some paperwork on an oil change, I got into a conversation with a mechanic about the game.
“Are you going?” “What are our chances?” “Well, I’ll certainly be watching.”
The buzz for Saturday isn’t confined to campus. It isn’t confined to Mizzou students and alumns. It’s all over the city.
Think back to Christmas Eve when you were a kid. You couldn’t sleep, right? You wanted to know what was under the tree. There was an unknown on the horizon, one that could turn into something great.
Everyone I’ve seen walking around Columbia today is in a state of Christmas Eve. Tomorrow, that unknown will finally be settled.
And this campus, this city can’t wait.