COLUMBIA, Mo. — Stepping on to the Mizzou campus was like stepping back in time, to a very similar Saturday in October three years ago — the Tiger football team playing that evening in one of the biggest games of the Pinkel era, looking to prove itself to the nation.
The campus and all of Columbia was painted in a sea of black and gold, speckled with red. You could feel the sense of pride as mid-Missouri honored its alumni, its school and its football team, all the while being thrust on to the national stage.
I was there, a senior at Mizzou, on Oct. 23, 2010, when the No. 11 Tigers upset the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners. That day will forever be one of my fondest memories as a sports fan, a memory that seemed all too familiar this weekend.
I got chills as I drove to campus Saturday morning to participate in the Homecoming festivities and parade, remembering that electric day in Missouri sports history — and hoping the old adage that “history repeats itself” would hold true.
It was an honor and a privilege to walk in Saturday’s parade not just as a FOX Sports Midwest Girl, but also as a Missouri School of Journalism alum — taking in some of the familiar sights along with the new.
Not much has changed since I graduated, aside from some impressive campus improvement projects. Oh, and that little move to the SEC.
Mizzou fans have stood their ground, defending the move to the powerhouse conference from the beginning. But for the first time Missouri football is playing for keeps in its new home, and the excitement Saturday morning was evident.
As we drove in from I-70 in the dark of the early morning, you could see cars lining Stadium Boulevard — some parked since Thursday, one student told me, to reserve their tailgating spot. Two hours before the parade, people were already saving their place along the route, eager to get a taste of Mizzou fever.
Walking in the parade was surreal, seeing old faces from that day three years ago as well as new rivals. I spotted several Gamecock fans along the route asking for Homecoming swag with a smirk. (Of course, I just smiled back and responded, “MIZ!”)
Hundreds of people packed the streets of CoMo early this morning, and as I headed out to St. Louis for Game 3 of the World Series, more and more Tiger tails were heading in.
You got the feeling as if all eyes are on Missouri –sensing the possibility they could see history in the making — Tiger Nation was ready.