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December 11, 2008

SCS.comFor the second straight year the Missouri Tigers headed to the Big 12 Championship. Unlike this year the game was played in what is becoming Mizzou’s “home away from home,” Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Despite the friendly confines Mizzou was unable to clinch the conference title and fell again at the hand of the Oklahoma Sooners.

Our journey to Kansas City began Friday morning just after 8 when we piled in the vans and hoped on I-70. Our first stop was a BBQ joint in Kansas City, the town that lays claim to the best BBQ in the world. At this time it was only 11 o’clock, but that did not stop us for indulging in our pulled pork sandwiches and sides of black beans.

We got to the stadium just before noon and began to set up. The set up was much easier because at Arrowhead they provide carts and personnel to help haul bags and trunks down the tunnel and to the locker room, making our jobs much easier. After we finished setting up we drove across the street to get a tour of the Kansas City Chiefs new facility.

One of our old equipment managers, who was a student at Mizzou four years ago is now a full-time member of the Chiefs equipment team. He gave us a behind the scenes tour in which we were able to go inside their locker room, equipment room, and practice facility. It was a really unique experience that would not have been available to the casual fan.

After our behind the scenes tour we crossed over into enemy territory (Kansas) and headed for the hotel. Since it was the Big 12 Championship Game there were a few events for administrators and fans to attend; however, we kept it low key at the hotel.

The next day we got up around 10 AM and left for the stadium just after noon. As you might expect, we stopped on the way to the stadium, at a BBQ joint no less. We got our meals to go and headed towards the stadium. When we got there we ate our sandwiches and set up the locker room. For the biggest game of the year we gave special attention to every players decal and took special care to make sure their shoes were clean and their helmets were polished.

One thing about Arrowhead that is different than most stadiums is the level of security. The security personnel are extremely tight. Typically, a handshake can get you through a “credential required” area if you at least seem like you know what you’re doing; however, not at Arrowhead. I spent most of my time with the equipment staff that didn’t have passes because we got there so early.

When I tried to go up to the media booth the security guard turned me down, then walked me back to where I came from and told me that I needed to stay there unless I had proper credentials to leave. This essentially meant I couldn’t walk down the hall way without a pass; such a change from a regular college stadium. Eventually, I had to leave the stadium, have a co-worker bring me a pass, and then enter through a different entrance in order to get to the same spot I had been thirty minutes earlier. It was a real lesson in how tight NFL security can be, needless to say, those security guards don’t mess around.

Once the game started the feeling was one of hope, we hung with the Sooners for nearly a quarter and a half; however, Oklahoma scored 28 points in the 2nd quarter and it was then that we realized our fate. In the end, the Sooners proved too strong winning the game 62-21 and becoming the first team in NCAA history to score 60 points in 5 consecutive games.

After the game there was some mechanical problems with the semi-truck. We got into the vans and drove home; however, the truck did not leave Kansas City until much later than we did. Some of us had put our luggage on the truck so we had to wait for our luggage and then left to go home leaving the unpacking of the truck for Sunday.

Our fate after losing our last two games is the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas on December 29th. It’s been amazing ride the past two years having been able to participate in the Big 12 Championship both years and finish last year with a Cotton Bowl victory. Hopefully we can do the same this year with a victory over Northwestern.

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