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November 5, 2008

SCS.comIf you are going to travel twelve hours on a charter bus, you might as well get your money out of it. While a blowout would have been nice, watching the Tigers squeak out a 3-point victory sure made for an interesting trip to Central Texas.

It was another late Thursday night departure time as we headed out of Columbia. The bus arrived at the athletic complex just before 11 pm and 30 minutes later we were headed towards interstate 70. Most of us immediately fell asleep, some on the floor, some sprawled out in awkward positions across chairs.

Our first stop was of course, Rudy’s BBQ. After loading up on turkey, brisket and cream corn we headed to the stadium. Like the last trip we had the help of the cheerleaders and trainers and were able to unload the truck, distribute the players gear, re-decal the helmets and clean the shoes within a matter of just under two hours.

After we were done with our day-before-game chores everyone loaded the bus to head 45-minutes down the road to the team hotel in Temple, Texas. I was able to spend the evening with my high school friend who goes to Baylor and stayed in Waco for the evening with him.

It was a unique experience because it was Baylor’s Homecoming and I was able to attend some of their homecoming festivities including a bond fire and outdoor concert. Being the only Mizzou fan in the area was a little disconcerting especially while everyone was doing their “sick ‘em Bears” chant and staring at the one guy dressed in black and gold yelling “M-I-Z” to anyone who would listen.

The next morning I arrived at the stadium around eight and waiting for the bus to show up. As they got off everyone was toting paper bags with orange and white stripes, once again following the Texas road trip tradition of the pre-game Whataburger meal.

As we went about our work we finished with plenty of time to kill, except for a few minor miscues. Usually around Wednesday we prepare the jerseys to be put on the bus. This week however there was a late addition to the travel roster and we had been unable to pack the proper jersey for one of our players, but nobody realized it until game day.

We always pack extra jerseys; the problem was getting a name plate in order that his name can be put on the back of the jersey. We asked our friend from Baylor if we could borrow some letters and screen pressed them onto the name plate, but the problem was they were in green. After that we had one of our equipment managers sew the nameplate on the back of the jersey and then sharpie in the letters to make them black. Despite all of that trouble, we decided the jersey looked best without a nameplate and decided to unstitch it and let the player play without one.

Once the players arrived at the stadium I headed up to the broadcast booth. The booth was a little tighter than normal and our producer had to sit on the stairs in the booth in order to do his job. I stood next to Mike, our play-by-play broadcaster, while our analyst sat in the chair to our left.

Baylor’s stadium was hardly a daunting environment. It was their homecoming; however, there were only a little over 30,000 fans in attendance. One of the cool things about the stadium was that the student section ran on to the field before the game, and the team came out through the crowd via the stadium steps. The students created a tunnel and once the players were on the field they huddled along with the fans. It was a very unique site and enabled a very fan friendly environment.

The game wasn’t very fan friendly, at least not from a Mizzou perspective. Most were expecting the Tigers to make quick work of the Bears; however, Baylor hung in for most of the game and the Tigers needed a crucial interception from Brock Christopher late in the 4th quarter to seal the victory.

After the game I went down to the locker room and recorded interviews with our sideline reporter. After running them back up to the press box I ran outside to say hi to some family before taking a shower and climbing on the bus back to Columbia.

On the way back some of us passed time by playing board games with the cheerleaders. After a stop in Oklahoma to fill up with gas and discuss the rest of our season schedule we climbed back on board and slept until we arrived in Columbia shortly after 5 am Sunday. Only one more road trip left we all exclaimed, and after these last two, it should be a piece of cake!

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