Death is the unknown country to everyone but SEC fans. For us, that unknown country is the state of Missouri, the possible 14th roommate in the newly expanded Celebrity Rehab House that is the SEC. We reached out to Bill, who claims to be from "Missouri," and appears to know things about this state we have only driven across a few times. Before Bill talks, here is what we know about Missouri from our extended drives across it and two forays into St. Louis:
- It's flattish.
- There are many adult video stores along its highways. (HUSH.)
- St. Louis has a skin condition called East St. Louis.
That is literally everything we have learned from personal experience with Missouri. To enlighten us further, we turn to Bill Connelly, the editor of Rock M Nation and writer for SBNation and Football Outsiders.
Orson: Umm….explain to us what a Missouri is. You're not Southern, but you still have a brisk drug trade, unsafe but very popular hunting traditions, poverty, and all of the things we value in an SEC member.
Bill: Let's see...
Spencer Hall: how's this: cross the state by pedigree Are you kentucky on Xanax, or Arkansas' sober, quiet upstairs neighbor?
Bill: Missouri is a southern state that was sent to a prep school up north. And only Missouri could spawn the cross of Shakespeare and professional wrestling known as Roadhouse. Missouri went to prep school while his brother Arkansas stayed at home and started a quail farm.
Orson: Okay, what does Mizzou bring to the SEC? We're asking, because Vandy always brings one bottle of Johnny Walker Blue and that's it, and Kentucky's just has these big family-size bags of stale corn chips they bring to the party, and really we just need some new stuff for the weekly spread. Say you're bringing some meat plz.
Bill: We bring a bland but likable beer and the enormous horses that represent it. (Free tours available on your way to a game in Columbia!) And we will fight Tennessee to the death for the "best barbecue" title. TO THE DEATH.
Orson: What is the general MO (hahaha pun intended) of MO football? Tennessee is sludgy fat guys falling on people for three hours, Alabama's is grit and a persistent hatred of the forward pass, LSU's is a century long love affair with the freaky play, and Florida's is running up the score because Tebow-Jesus told us to. What kind of overall ethos can we expect?
Bill: Mizzou is a mix of bubble screens, gold pants, throwing six yards to a tight end on third-and-7 (just so you can watch him carry three guys for the first down) and fans complaining for a decade that no matter how much success you have, you can't have a rill offense without a fullback.
Orson: Sounds like Auburn without the persistent stench of corruption and captive raptors flying into glass. Does Mizzou have a cheer/song/tradition we should begin hating in advance?
Bill: Unfortunately, no live mascots of any kind. Some fans wanted a live Tiger, but let's just say that with our general lack of luck and (sometimes) foresight, that Tiger would DEFINITELY escape and DEFINITELY maul the guy who beats our big drum . At the end of the third quarter, while Wisconsin fans are jumping around, we are waving our arms in the air to this song:
We wave instead of singing lyrics, and probably for one specific reason: the original lyrics were, um, questionable, and we probably don't want to bring attention to them.
Editor's note: these are the 1914 version lyrics Bill is talking about. They do NOT sing them anymore.
Way down in Missouri where I heard this melody,
When I was a Pickaninny on ma Mammy's knee;
The darkies were hummin'; their banjos were strummin';
So sweet and low.
Still think Missouri's not Southern?
Orson: A history of racism does help, but Missouri REALLY went a step further. If you have to choose one rival's town to burn to the ground, which one will it be? Don't worry: they are sure to not take this personally.
Bill: Fayetteville, just because I'm pretty sure Missouri fans will transfer a decent amount of their Kansas hatred seamlessly to the Hogs. One of my lifelong best friends is a Hog, and if I only learned one thing in my trips to Fayetteville (other than quail tastes goooooooood), it's that Missouri fans would have no trouble hating them (and vice versa). It could be fun. Plus, if there is no Fayetteville, there is one less school in competition for Dorial Green-Beckham.
Orson: Please describe the primary food and alcoholic beverage of a typical Mizzou tailgate.
Bill: Last year at homecoming, a friend of a friend of a friend randomly dropped off four slabs of ribs at our tailgate. This is in no way normal, but I just like reminding myself that it happened, and that it was awesome. Anyway, once you escape the free-for-all of Lot X (i.e. the low-donor lot approximately 16 miles from the stadium) and make your way through more high-end tailgate areas, you begin to see the familiar mix of Budweiser, Boulevard, chicken in deep-fryers, and chicken on grills, with a dessert of gooey butter cake, Direct TV and undocumented liquid in flasks.
Orson: Brown liquor, yes?
Bill: At least from my experience. Missouri does, after all, border Kentucky. And while I cannot specify on behalf of all involved (there is likely more spiced rum involved than I care to acknowledge), I will just say that if you are wandering the lots before a game and searching for bourbon, you will find bourbon. And probably some seven-and-seven as well. But also bourbon.
Orson: Who is your player patron Saint? The Tebow of the Ozarks, so to speak.
Bill: On the M-I-Z Mount Rushmore, you will see the one and only Chase Daniel, you will see mean old James Wilder...
...you will see Roger Wehrli, and you will see Ron Janes, Mizzou's last great fullback. We cannot let go of Rhino Ron.
Orson: Finally: if this does happen, what would you be looking forward to most?
Bill: In 2003, Mizzou played Arkansas in the Independence Bowl. The night before the game, a group of our friends went to a Shreveport Mudbugs minor league hockey game (because, uh, what else are you going to do?). A guy came down to our section and invited us to a tailgate. He was an LSU fan, and he said he and his friends liked coming to the Independence Bowl just for tailgating practice. I ate 11 different types of meat that day and woke up sometime in 2005. (As far as I'm concerned, 2004 never happened. http://archive.columbiatribune.com/2004/nov/20041121Spor013.asp IT NEVER HAPPENED.) So the No. 1 thing I'm looking for is finding those guys in Missouri's first trip to Baton Rouge. (Supposedly we still have the main guy's phone number.) No. 2: throwing myself into hating Arkansas. It will be easy, and it will be fantastic.
Orson. Fantastic. P.S. You already hate Rocky Top, right?
Bill: It will instantaneously become the new Boomer Sooner.
Thanks to Bill for his time, and now that we've written this watch them announce they're staying in the Big 12 this morning.