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October 9, 2013
Powered Up: A whole lot of fun
Last weekend, my colleague Pete Scantlebury and I were having a discussion after Missouri's 51-28 throttling of Vanderbilt. In the ever-raging battle to draw the line between journalist and fan, Pete put it into words perfectly: "I'm not a fan in the sense that I get invested in whether they win or lose, but I absolutely want them to win because it just makes it so much more fun to cover."
He's right. It's more fun to cover a winning team. Fans care more. Players give you better quotes. The stories are easier to write, the night games that deprive you of sleep bother you a little bit less the next day.
In the wake of Missouri's even-more-convincing-than-the-score-indicated win over the Commodores, I've been reminded a few times of the 2007 season. I put in more work that season than I probably have in any other. But I also enjoyed my job more than I did in any other year.
I was making radio and TV appearances across the country to talk about the Tigers. I was downloading college football podcasts every day because what they were talking about was relevant to what I was covering. We couldn't pump out enough content because the demand was just so high. In short, it was a ball.
I'm not about to make any comparisons to 2007 just yet. Missouri has the game that, before the season, heck before last weekend, I considered the most unwinnable on its schedule. Injuries to half of Georgia's roster have made me come off that stance, but the Tigers are still a decided underdog. Win this weekend and all things are suddenly possible, but there's still a major hurdle between the present and that possibility.
But even before this game, those possibilities are out there, maybe just beyond the horizon. That led me to another thought this morning. I thought of my friend, and longtime PowerMizzou.com subscriber, Dave Evert. I thought, "Man, Dave would love this."
I first met Dave when I was a senior in high school and he was the rush chairman for the Sigma Nu fraternity at Mizzou. The loose job description basically read like this: "Find guys that you think you might want in the fraternity. Give them free alcohol. Introduce them to hot college girls. Get them to sign and then make them clean the fraternity house for a few months."
Dave did that job well. I became a member of Sigma Nu and enjoyed most of it (if you were ever a fraternity pledge, you know that saying I enjoyed all of it would be a lie). Over the next four years, I got to be good friends with Dave and spent a lot of good times with him. I even remember some of them.
Dave was the only guy I knew in my fraternity that was as big a sports fan as I was. He had no problem sitting in D section in Hearnes. He knew how to do a tailgate. When we were in Cancun on spring break my junior year, he and I were the only ones that chose to skip a day on the beach so we could find a sports bar and watch the first round of the NCAA Tournament (the most memorable game was Coppin State beating South Carolina, I think only the second time a 15 seed had beaten a two).
Dave was a huge Mizzou fan, a huge St. Louis Cardinal fan and a Kansas City Chiefs fan. We had two of the three in common and we talked about sports all the time.
When I moved back to Columbia and started working for PowerMizzou, Dave and I reconnected. He was living in Kansas City and was involved with the Kansas City Tiger Club. We would talk frequently about Mizzou, the Royals/Cardinals and the Chiefs. We traded a lot of texts during and after games. When Mizzou played a road game, I would often call him on the drive back to Columbia to talk about it.
Dave died last March. I went to his funeral in Jefferson City, reconnecting with a lot of our mutual friends that I hadn't seen in a long time. It was good to see them, but horrible to see them in those circumstances. A lot of us met up at Harpo's and had a good night remembering our friend.
This morning, 48 hours from the time I will fly to Athens to cover Missouri's game against Georgia, I thought, "Man, Dave would love this." Missouri is 5-and-0 and fans are dreaming of the Tigers' first win over a top ten team on the road in 32 years (I was five, Dave was six) and the possibilities that exist if that happens. The Cardinals are a few hours away from sending maybe the most clutch post-season pitcher in the game to the mound to for a win-or-go-home game against the Pirates. The Chiefs are one of three unbeaten teams remaining in the NFL.
Right now, this is a whole lot of fun to watch. My friend Dave would have loved this week. I miss him. Never more than during weeks like this. It helps me to think, somewhere, he's getting to watch it all with a smile.
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