The first trip to Columbia for "College GameDay'' drew a record crowd for the show. A throng estimated at 18,000 jammed into the area near the show's set in Francis Quadrangle on Saturday morning for ESPN's college football pregame show, leading into the telecast of the Missouri-Oklahoma game that night on sister network ABC. That's nearly 2,200 more fans than the previous record - Nebraska drew 15,808 for a "GameDay'' appearance in 2001 - for a program that has been hitting the road for 17 seasons.
The students were raucous in the background, with the TV pictures framed by the two MU campus signature landmarks - the columns and Jesse Hall. And host Chris Fowler localized his remarks as the program signed on ESPN at 9 a.m., playing off Missouri's "Show-Me State'' motto.
"Hello Mizzou - we're talkin' to you,'' he said. "It is time for your Tigers to show me, show you, show the world they are ready to stand up finally to Oklahoma and step forward as a serious contender and earn the respect you've been denied for decades.''
Many of the students began cheering wildly. Many also were waving homemade signs touting the Tigers.
"That's the most signs we've ever seen,'' panelist Kirk Herbstreit said. "A world record.''
But not all was jovial for the MU crowd. "GameDay'' cast member Lee Corso, who wraps up the show each week by predicting the winner of the game the crew is at, drew big catcalls. First he grabbed a Mizzou helmet, leading many to think he was picking the Tigers, before tossing it aside ("This is the "Show-Me" state!'' he exclaimed) and selecting the Sooners.
That came just after Fowler got in one more local reference, in a Marx-brothers themed joke.
"Are these students going to be celebrating in the world famous Harpo's (bar) tonight or will there be a whole bunch of Grouchos?'' he asked.