Sunday, November 6, 2011

Does this mean Missouri is Southern?

I woke up this morning to a text telling me the event I was supposed to attend at 4 p.m. had to be rescheduled "due to the press conference at 4:30."

What press conference? I thought. I assumed it probably had something to do with Mizzou's much-anticipated move to the Southeastern Conference, but why hadn't I heard anything about it before now?

Well, within 30 minutes, I had four different emails conveying the same message:

MU Chancellor Brady J. Deaton
invites you to join
Athletic Director Mike Alden,
University of Florida President Bernie Machen
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive

For a celebration and news conference
on the occasion of the
University of Missouri’s
admission to the
Southeastern Conference

Sunday, November 6, 4:30 p.m.
MU Student Center

One was from the chancellor himself, one from Greek Life, one from the Student Recreation Complex where I work and one from the Mizzou Alumni Association.

Fortunately, I got off work at 4 p.m., so I was just in time to grab one of the last seats overlooking the balcony and wait for the press conference ... which was delayed ... twice. But finally, at 5 p.m., the big men in the conference took the stage and traded off saying - in so many words - how excited both MU and the SEC are about this change. Mizzou will become a fully fledged member of the SEC on July 1, 2012, and will begin conference play in all sports next school year.

Confetti rains down on SEC Commissioner Mike Slive and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton
after Deaton presents Slive with a Mizzou football helmet.

During a Q&A session with the media after the announcements, many reporters asked about the "culture" of Mizzou fitting in with the SEC. This reminded me of a certain paragraph of a premature press release that was leaked on the SEC's website a week and a half ago:
"Culturally, Missouri is as well known for its barbecue, country music, history and rich tradition as the majority of the current states of the SEC."
Well, I know a lot of people in Missouri who try to say they're Southern, but I also know some people from Texas who like to say that. (Yes, parts of Texas are arguably Southern. Fort Worth, you are not one of those.) Personally, I consider Missouri very Midwestern, until you get down in the bootheel (Hiya, Kennett!). We just don't have the same culture as Mississippi or Georgia or the Carolinas. There are only a handful of restaurants in Columbia that serve sweet tea, sorority girls like their shirts low-cut not oversized, fratstars in green seersucker pants stick out like a sore thumb and I go days without hearing any mention of Jesus except as a curse word. Are those stereotypical Southern staples? Yes, but at the same time, I think they get my point across.

Who knows, maybe being in the SEC will coax (more of) our female students into wearing sundresses to football games and our male students into saying "ma'am" as they open a car door for their date. But until then, I firmly place Missouri (especially Columbia) in midwestern America.

How would you classify Missouri geographically/culturally (or Texas)? If you have Mizzou ties, what do you think about our move to the SEC?


Lindsay Cochrum said...

I love your benchmarks for "Southern" because several of them were quite shocking to me even at A&M (which I also think is not quite as "Southern" as the other SEC schools...). The oversize T's, cordial boys who carry things for you and hold doors open and the fact that 90% of the first-year-seminar class I teach talk about how much they love Jesus all the time were are quite jarring after 4 years at Mizzou... And the gameday dresses... oh the gameday dresses... It saddens me that Mizzou may succumb to them...

Megan said...

Oh good! I'm glad you concur with my stereotypes lol. I just know someone is going to come on here and yell at me about how Missouri IS SO Southern.

Patty said...

I laughed out loud at your stereotypes. But, they're stereotypes for a reason! ha. Funny.