COLUMBIA — Blaire Vandiver knows what you’re thinking.
Good-looking sorority girl dating the star quarterback? Not exactly original. Still, no one loathes the cliché more than Vandiver, the Delta Gamma sorority member dating one of the country’s top quarterbacks, Missouri’s Chase Daniel.
Kansas State (4-5, 1-4 )
at No. 13 Missouri (7-2, 3-2)
WHEN: 6 p.m.
WHERE: Memorial Stadium
RADIO: KFRU/1400 AM
She knows you think she likes him for his status. She knows you doubt he is faithful to her. After a year in a serious relationship, she doesn’t care what you think.
“I hear the rumors,” Vandiver said. “It gets old. The people who matter know what kind of relationship we have.” And that relationship didn't start how you might assume.
“I wanted nothing to do with him for the first three months,” she said. Vandiver, who is from Richmond, Mo., and is a year younger than Daniel, met him in June 2007 through a mutual friend.
“My roommate told me Chase Daniel was coming over, and I was like, ‘Cool. I don’t care,’” Vandiver said.
The quarterback came up to Vandiver’s room, where she was doing sit-ups on the floor.
"I wasn't wearing makeup, and I had sweats on," she recalled. “He starts showing me certain ab moves to do, and I’m like, ‘OK, this is awkward,’” she recalled.
Vandiver didn't realize he was interested in her until she got a text message: “Hey this is Chase. Nice meeting you.” He had asked her roommate for Vandiver’s phone number that night.
Over the summer, the two spent time together in a group, going to the pool or eating at Taco Bell.
“It was never just me and him,” she said. “I wouldn’t let it be just me and him.”
Vandiver was not looking for a boyfriend at that point. She especially did not want to go out with the starting quarterback.
“I wasn’t ready for a relationship with him,” Vandiver said. “I didn’t want to be that girl dating Chase Daniel.”
Summer ended without any romance, but the two found themselves in a new products marketing course, which brought them together for projects and class work. Over the next month, Vandiver started to think that, as much as she didn’t want to be “that” girl, Daniel wasn’t really “that” guy.
“He’s down to earth,” she said. “I know it’s been said before, but he’s just a normal guy.” Vandiver said eventually “something just clicked” and they had their first date Oct. 11, 2007. The two ate dinner at CC’s City Broiler and went bowling that night.
Vandiver looks back and laughs, teasing her boyfriend, “Hey, remember that time when I didn’t like you?”
How could he forget? He spent four months trying to persuade her to give him a chance.
“I don’t expect to be treated any different than anybody else, but she always treated me like any other guy,” Daniel said. “That’s what I liked. She’s down to earth. She’s my escape from everything.”
Daniel admits, “The chase was fun,” but he scoffs if you suggest he was only in it for the thrill of pursuit.
“I love her,” Daniel said. “And she’s definitely one of the strongest, both mentally and emotionally, girlfriends I’ve had."
Daniel's mom said her son has had unsuccessful relationships with “clingy” girls who did not appreciate Daniel’s dedication to football.
“It takes a girl that has a lot of confidence in herself to date Chase,” Vickie Daniel said.
Vandiver sits with Daniel's mom, dad and sister every week because she says they are just as emotionally invested in the game as she is.
After the Colorado game, Vandiver waited outside the locker room with Daniel’s family while the quarterback signed autographs. She wore his father’s leather jacket to keep warm as she talked to his sister and friends.
“See, she doesn’t need to stand next to him right now,” Bill Daniel said. “She understands.”
Don't think it hasn’t taken some getting used to. Before last year, Vandiver didn't have to spend 45 minutes of her sorority semi-formal waiting for fans to stop asking her boyfriend for photos. She didn't have people mailing things to her house for her boyfriend to sign. And she didn't find out about her anniversary present from ESPN The Magazine.
“In the beginning, I didn’t know how to act, but it comes along with the territory when you’re dating someone so high-profile,” she said, borrowing a phrase Daniel often uses in interviews.
The territory includes their names coming up on college gossip Web sites. Vandiver recognizes the common perception of football players as, well, "players" — womanizers — but she said she has never doubted her boyfriend. Plus, between football and school, Daniel has just barely enough time for her. She laughs that you would think he's seeing anyone else.
“I don’t know when he would,” Vandiver said. “We hang out every night. When he’s not at school or playing football, he’s with me.”
Vandiver’s roommates said Daniel comes over to do homework, eat dinner or just hang out in the living room. Last week he joined them for chicken pot pie and pumpkin carving.
The couple goes out for “date night” every Sunday. One of Vandiver’s favorites was their six-month anniversary at the winery in Hermann, where Daniel rented a cottage and made grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and salad.
She said her boyfriend is a true romantic — “a real Southern boy” — who opens her doors and buys her flowers. But as much as she loves him, Vandiver doesn’t like to brag.
Vandiver said she initially hesitated about being interviewed and photographed for this story. With Daniel’s encouragement, she agreed.
Of course, it doesn't matter what you think anyway.
“I’m not that type of girl. I don’t need to tell people I’m Chase’s girlfriend,” Vandiver said. “Chase knows I’m his girlfriend. That’s all that matters.”