As most of you know, Mizzou is headed to Shreveport, La., to face North Carolina in the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl later this month. What you may not know is that, 35 years ago, the Tarheels played a coincidental part in what is now one of Mizzou's most cherished traditions.
The last time the two squads met was on Oct. 2, 1976. But this story begins one week earlier, in Columbus, Ohio.
As Todd Donaho recounts in his book, "MizzouRah: Memorable Moments in Missouri Tiger Football History", the Tigers had just wrapped up a stunning, last-minute, 22-21 upset of No. 2 Ohio State. On the bus ride home back to Columbia, several of the cheerleaders discussed the OSU fans' cheers of "O-HI-O" during the game, and wondered if something similar could be done at Faurot Field.
There were suggestions of one side of the stadium yelling, "M," and the other side responding, "U." One side could yell, "Black," the other side could yell, "Gold." According to [Jess] Bushyhead, it was at that point in the conversation that Mini-Mizzou member Cedric Lemmie chimed in and said, "How about M-I-Z - Z-O-U?" The idea for a new cheer had been born ...
The next week, October 2, 1976, at Faurot Field against North Carolina, the band yelled, "M-I-Z" from its seats in the North end zone, and the cheerleaders replied back ("with their megaphones and P.A. system"), "Z-O-U." Because it was the first time ever for the chant, the fans didn't know if they should participate. It took several times before the cheer stuck, but by the end of the season, a new tradition had begun.
"It started," said Bushyhead. "Small at first, so lost in the sound of the crowd so that you didn't even hear it. But within a few cycles the crowd caught on. Within minutes it seemed to surpass in power, volume, and enthusiasm the Ohio State version we'd derived it from."
So as you watch the Tigers and Tarheels in the Independence Bowl at the end of the month, as you yell out your own version of M-I-Z - Z-O-U, know that North Carolina was there for its birth.
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