Throughout my time here at SBN, I've come to realize that 80% of every fanbase is almost exactly the same. We care about the same things, we are thrilled by our victories, we feel sorry for ourselves after our losses. We approach sports fandom in generally similar ways.
It is the other 20% that defines the fanbase, and that 20% basically consists of culture, geography and, simply, the given team's history of wins and losses. For Mizzou fans, that history has had plenty of awesome moments, moments which have increased in frequency in recent years. But Mizzou's fanbase has been rather significantly defined by the creativity involved in the losses, the injuries, and the rivalries. Every team suffers defeats, but not every team loses via fifth down or kicked ball. Every team loses NCAA Tournament games, but not every fanbase has had to watch their team lose at the last second in every single NCAA Tournament montage of the last 15 years. Not every fanbase loses a national title because its chief rival used an ineligible player. Not every fanbase gets kicked around by the entire country for a summer because it has the audacity to think semi-highly of itself during conference realignment.
We can either wallow in the misery -- as we all have before -- or we can celebrate it. No fanbase is more seasoned to absorb defeat and more prepared to celebrate success than Mizzou's. If suffering builds character, then ... well, you can finish that with your cliche of choice.
We are the celebratory sort at Rock M, so it's time to pound our chest and remind ourselves what separates us from other fanbases. Over the next month, we will vote on which of our sources of misery we enjoy hating the most, for one reason or another.
The original thought was to separate the bracket into "regions" of sorts -- awful games, hated players, hated coaches, miserable off-the-field moments. But instead I decided I enjoyed the dissonance of putting players versus events, coaches versus games, etc. The top eight people/events were given seeds and separated into different pieces of the bracket; the rest of the bracket was filled out in, basically, chronological order. The recency effect is certainly in place here, but that's just the way it is.
Who do you hate more, Billy Tubbs or the thought of the previously No. 1 Tiger basketball team losing in round one? Shevin Wiggins' foot or Tony Van Zant's knee? The traitorous Ryan Robertson or the treacherous, slimy, denim-outfitted Kelvin Sampson? Obviously the Flea Kicker is the favorite in this region, but there is plenty of good, healthy hate to go around here.
We could have almost merged Kurt Heinrich and Aaron Miles into that single, dreadful, Hearnes-closing basketball game, but there appeared to enough individual hatred for each person/event to keep them separated. Can someone, or something, knock off the Bert Coan- and Charles Johnson-inflicted favorites? If there is a surprise Final Four appearance, it will probably come from this region.
The most off-the-field laden region of the bunch, Region III is the "embarrassment" region. Well, embarrassment, a hilariously awful coach, an a--hole baseball player and a killer stomach punch game, anyway.
Is the recency, and creativity, of the Matt Painter tease enough to take out one of the favorites in Tyus Edney? And which of many recent (and white, ahem) former Kansas athletes will play spoiler against a couple of seeded heavyweights?
The voting starts tomorrow!