Commentary: Our Columbia far superior to Missouri city

pobley@thestate.comSeptember 19, 2012 

This diatribe should begin with an important disclaimer: I am a Kansan.

As we hurtle toward the first SEC battle of the Columbias, it would be easy for me to prattle on about how Missouri started the Civil War seven years before shots were fired at Fort Sumter.

I could natter away about how pro-slavery guerrillas burned abolitionist Kansas towns to the ground and how Kansans returned the favor, often with unspeakable brutality.

Missouri’s most-favored son is Jesse James. Its largest city is Kansas City. What self-respecting state does this to itself? One could intimate Missouri folk are inclined to hate themselves.

In Kansas, the official motto is “To the stars through difficulties.” Missouri was responsible for that. I could tell you we Kansans have another motto: “Protecting America from Missouri since 1854.”

As far as sports go, any university that would throw away a rivalry as potent as the Kansas-Missouri Border War for dollar signs is a school not really worthy of SEC respect.

So when I say this, it should not come as a surprise, considering the source:

South Carolina’s Columbia is massively better than Missouri’s muddy imitation.

Our Columbia is the original. Its history and cultural roots run much deeper. Its metro area is larger than the nation’s other Columbias combined (Missouri’s is a distant second).

In much the same way our USC must defend itself against that other USC, the time has come for Columbia to announce its presence with authority upon our distant, northern shirttail cousins.

I have been to both, my friends. I know where Missouri’s bodies are buried. I know the weak spots.

But this is where my need for malevolence shall end (OK, not yet … if you want to have a good belly laugh, go to YouTube and search for “We Are Mizzou.” It quite possibly is the single worst piece of anything ever produced by anyone.).

As much as Columbia, Mo., is to be despised, laughed at and pitied, it should also be respected. Its denizens and university are as devoted as any in the country.

Its primary university’s nickname is noble and not related to a striped feline. The Missouri Tigers were a band of homegrown militia who protected Columbia and the fledgling university from Confederate forces, guerillas and other ne’er-do-wells.

There is plenty of culture in Columbia, Mo. The Ninth Street Summerfest at The Blue Note is time well spent. There always seems to be some really good live jazz or blues going on somewhere. There is plenty of barbeque to be had.

This all sounds pretty familiar to a certain “Famously Hot” city, doesn’t it?

Missouri is home to one of the finest journalism schools in the country (stop laughing).

But of course, we’re here to talk football and fan bases. And when you’re talking about Mizzou, you must talk about The Antlers.

There may not be a student section anywhere in the country that can be as creative — and at times cruel — as The Antlers.

New USC basketball coach Frank Martin is well-versed in their antics. Former Kansas State basketball player Cartier Martin once struck up a potential romantic relationship with a woman on Facebook, who happened to be an Antler undercover. The Antler coaxed a phone number out of Cartier Martin and, when Kansas State visited Columbia that season, the entire student section held up his phone number while Cartier Martin attempted free throws.

The Antlers are all about the long con. Your school — your team — must be on its toes, ever vigilant. Should your crew ever suffer an arrest, an embarrassment or any other kind of indignity in the days leading up to Mizzou week, The Antlers will hear of it and their … ahem … creative response will be as YouTube worthy as “We Are Mizzou” is not.

As for the football team, Gary Pinkel is one of the best coaches in the country. The Tigers are disciplined and quick. What they give away in size, they make up for in tenacity. You will not be able to put them away, regardless of what the scoreboard says.

They might not be as talented as the Gamecocks this season, but you can bet they’ll make them sweat. As SEC money pours into the coffers, as Pinkel sells recruits on the allure of playing in the country’s most-favored conference and as The Antlers grow accustomed to swimming in the deep end of the pool, Missouri will take its place among the nation’s elite.

But as for Mizzou’s home town?

We see their Ninth Street and raise them Five Points and Vista.

This Columbia is the best. Theirs is like the rest.

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