I officially declare it the Greatest Homecoming Weekend Ever! Glorious weather, good friends and a thorough dismantling of a nationally-ranked team made for a fabulous 48 hours . . . .
I met Homecoming Grand Marshal/Football Hall of Famer Roger Wehrli and his wife Gayle (remarkably lovely people) twice over the weekend, and confessed that, when I was a kid, my favorite book was All-Pro Football Stars 1977 (it sorta still is, actually), in which Mr. Wehrli was recognized as one of the NFL’s top defensive backs. I also told him that my father-in-law wore number 23 for the Tigers just a few years before Roger and Johnny Roland did, and that we like to say that Bruce’s number was retired, which is half true . . . . A streak continues: the Tigers have never lost a Homecoming game after I’ve eaten a Heidelburger the preceding Friday night. . . . While waiting for the parade to begin on Saturday morning, I saw Gary Leonard dragging a three-wheeled red wagon along a Ninth Street sidewalk. While it might appear peculiar to see a seven-foot man captaining such a defective vessel through the streets of a mid-sized Midwestern town, with Gary it somehow seemed normal. . . . Columbia’s West Junior High School band has a scrappy cymbal player who overcame a broken strap/handle to provide the event the proper fanfare. . . . The parade’s most prolific candy-thrower, by far, was Rocky Alden, wife of Mizzou’s athletics director Mike Alden. . . . Noted without comment: A group of adult people dressed in some oddly sophisticated Star Wars regalia marched in the parade. . . . Weekend’s Moment of Zen: Attending a reception at Jesse Hall, sitting outside on the north steps, beer in hand, contemplating the Columns. . . . Offensive coordinator Dave Christensen is a mad scientist. The whole world anticipated one of history’s great aerial showdowns, and he controlled the game by running the ball down Texas Tech’s throat. Before Saturday, I could not fathom that Mizzou could score 41 points despite Chase Daniel throwing the ball just nineteen times. Pity the poor defensive coordinator who has to prepare for this team. . . . Jeremy Maclin (who badly needs a nickname, by the way; The Jet? Flash Maclin? Somebody help me) has easily the best football speed I’ve seen in two-plus decades of closely following the Tigers. The only possible precedent I can come up with is Mel Gray. Maclin’s 57-yard catch and run for touchdown in the fourth quarter was pure poetry. . . . Mizzou’s defense has developed a fourth quarter sadistic streak. In the last two home games, the front seven has pinned back its ears and punished Sam Keller and Graham Harrell. I like it. . . . Though there’s work to do before we get there, Mizzou’s November 24 meeting with Kansas at Arrowhead Stadium is starting to look like the most anticipated sporting event in Kansas City since the 1988 Final Four. Disagree? What ranks above it?
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