Mizzou fans aren’t exactly the most well-regarded group in the college football bowl community.
With Sunday’s announcement that Mizzou will face Iowa Dec. 28 in the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., Gary Pinkel has now led Mizzou to six consecutive bowl appearances and seven in the last eight years. However, over the last few years, Mizzou fans have developed a stigma that is well-known within bowl selection committees: Tiger fans don’t travel well.
Mizzou was passed over in favor of Big 12 teams with worse records or lower rankings in 2007 (Kansas went to the Orange Bowl, Mizzou the Cotton Bowl), 2008 (Nebraska went to the Gator Bowl, Mizzou the Alamo Bowl), and 2009 (Iowa State went to the Insight Bowl, Mizzou the Texas Bowl). While bowl officials can hem and haw all they want about the selection process, that Mizzou has a stigma of not selling tickets certainly played a role in those decisions.
In 2010, though, the Insight Bowl selected Mizzou instead of the guaranteed ticket sales of Nebraska, bumping the Cornhuskers to the Holiday Bowl. The Insight Bowl—which significantly increased its payout this year and moved from the NFL Network to ESPN—in a way challenged Mizzou fans to get out to its game. “Hey, we chose you over Nebraska, so you guys better show up.”
The only way for Mizzou to rid itself of that nasty stigma is to sell out ticket allotments for bowl games. The Insight Bowl would be a good start.
Gary Pinkel echoed a challenge for Mizzou fans to get to Tempe for the game at Sunday’s bowl announcement press conference at Mizzou Arena: