I graduated from the University of Missouri in 1996. The football team won exactly 12 games during that time. The 2015 version of the Tigers will exceed my annual win total of the sad mid 90s but I have witnessed the worst offense in school history.
Before I get into the guts of my Nashville weekend, my third such weekend this fall, let’s cover a few things. I attended two Missouri and one Titans game in the past two weekends. The combined number of points scored in three football games was 45. The teams I rooted for scored 6 points outside of points scored directly after a turnover. The last time the Missouri Tigers scored a touchdown was October 3, which is the sole reason why Steve Spurrier retired.
Thankfully my emotional meter does not depend on football. If that were the case, I’d be wearing so many straightjackets that Houdini couldn’t get out of them in a century. I have gone from apoplectic over my teams’ struggles to mildly amused. After all, we search for the extremes in life and bad football is certainly on the far end of human experience.
Let’s throw in some moments from my weekend visit to the place that makes the Factory of Sadness feel like Foxboro, Nashville, Tennessee.
– I start my weekend by depositing a bag of clothes and some quality craft beer at my parents’ house, and immediately leaving.
– My first stop is at Edley’s BBQ. I skipped my mainstay, Hattie B’s hot chicken, due to the long wait. I still stood in line for 30 minutes, and after ordering and sitting down at the bar, realizing I could have ordered from there instead. I got a Good People Brown Ale, had a brisket sandwich, mac and cheese, and banana pudding.
– Despite being barely able to move after that meal, I waddled back to my car and parked near Sportsman’s Grill in the Vanderbilt area. I had to walk about a mile back and forth to meet my dad and his friend to procure a ticket, wade through the usual women dressing up way too much for a football game, especially a Vanderbilt-Missouri game, and went back to the grill in order to meet…
– Sharona. I brought her a Humbolt Black Xantus as a peace offering after our original plan to go to the Vandy game fell through (she totally avoided a slow, defensive-minded bullet there). We watched Tennessee and Alabama trade two touchdowns in a quarter, a points bonanza that I’d dream seeing later this weekend like a dehydrated man getting two sips of water.
– I arrived to the Missouri/Vandy game with about 75% as much tailgating going on as the game slowly reached its second quarter. It was, not surprisingly, a 0-0 affair when I arrived. I saw Vandy drive for a TD, which pretty much clinched the game. For a low octane game, it was full of controversy, with four different plays sent back for review. Missouri lost a TD on a fumble return on a ball that was later ruled a forward pass and a 50-yard pass was overturned.
– Missouri’s punter took a fake 30+ yards and almost ended up the leading rusher for the team. Into the third quarter, freshman Corey Fatony, who is from nearby Franklin, averaged more yards per punt than the offense had for the entire game.
– I’m being too narrative here, so let’s go into random thoughts that hit me:
— While Missouri almost tied the game in the end, they failed to score a TD for the third straight week and lost to a team who had a coach who had failed to win a conference game in a year and a half.
— We left in the fourth quarter to make a hockey game because a 10-3 college football game took almost four hours to complete.
— Luckily I had a can of Cigar City’s Maduro in my car for the walk from the Titans’ parking lot to Bridgestone where the Nashville Predators play.
— While walking around this stadium in a half-daze, a security guard asked me the score, as I was still wearing my Missouri #10 jersey as if the era in which the team averaged more than a TD a quarter wasn’t in an alternate dimension, I told him, and he gave me the “sucks to be you” face.
— The hockey game was the most fun sporting event I’ve attended all year and it still lacked scoring. The home team tied it at 1-1 in the third period and they lost in overtime. Imagine college football OT, except that both teams play 7 on 7. That’s the NHL.
— On the following day, I attended the lowest scoring NFL game since 2012. I’m a walking voodoo doll.
— I’ve attended Titans games since 1999 and this is the first time I entered the stadium wearing no team gear.
— The score was 7-3 at halftime, Titans winning and yes, the TD was on the first play after an interception. The radio signal died on the way home and I didn’t even care if the Titans rallied because I knew that they wouldn’t do it.
— I did endanger my life by repeatedly glancing down to see how my keeper league team was doing. I won. Thank you, Gurley.
Serious moment: Earlier in the week, one of my co-workers lost his father. After the funeral, he came back to work and I stopped by. His father was 66. My parents and in-laws are all 66. They are in great shape. I didn’t appreciate it enough when after the hockey game, at 10:30 Nashville time which is way past their bedtimes, my parents stayed up because they hadn’t consumed any wine yet. I was the one begging off because I can’t hang. It’s sad that my excuse to come up to see them is a team coached by a guy who’s won half as many football games in 22 tries as Dan Quinn has in 7.