COLUMBIA — Senior Eric Hobbs woke up at 9 a.m. on Saturday, eager to cheer through a black and gold doubleheader. He arrived outside Memorial Stadium at 10:30 a.m. to tailgate before the football team faced Baylor. Around 5 p.m. he was crossing the street for the women’s volleyball match against No. 2 Texas.
It turned out to be a tough day for Missouri’s most recognizable fan.
Usually, Hobbs stands in the front row of the student cheering section at volleyball games rallying his troops. But Saturday he took a step back. With his arms crossed, face paint chipping and shimmering black velour cape on the floor, Hobbs showed barely any emotion during the Tigers’ 3-0 loss to Texas. Missouri is now 15-11 overall and 6-8 in Big 12 Conference play.
It wasn’t that he expected the volleyball team to upset one of the nation’s elite, he just didn’t plan on watching it after the football team slipped against Baylor.
“The football loss hurt more,” Hobbs said. “With volleyball, you came in thinking ‘Hey there’s a good shot we’re not going to win this.’ A lot of people just kind of assumed that we’d win in football.”
Hobbs has been making his presence known at Missouri sporting events since his freshman year. His black and gold top hat, gold knee socks, face paint and beaded necklaces create the image of super fan.
“I just dress up silly,” Hobbs said. “I’m just trying to have fun. I’m not trying to get extra attention even though it may not seem like it.”
He refuses to call himself the Tigers’ No. 1 fan, but likes to tell the story of sophomore basketball player Kim English proclaiming him as one of the top-10 fans in the nation.
“All this stuff I have on, for whatever reason, it almost creates an authority even when I’m not really one,” Hobbs said.
He does, however, hold the title of director of game day operations for VolleyZou, Missouri’s student fan group for volleyball. He helps coordinate activities for the group and leads chants during matches.
And while Hobbs said he entered Hearnes Center hoping that the volleyball team could provide a pick-me-up after the football game, libero Caitlyn Vann said she and her teammates weren’t thinking about Tiger fans’ mental health before their match.
“We would have loved to have gotten a win tonight, no one wants two Mizzou teams to lose in one day, but I don’t think most of us knew they lost until later on,” Vann said.
Despite the volleyball team not providing the morale boost Hobbs was looking for, he said he still planned on enjoying a fun Saturday night with friends. But before he could have any fun Hobbs had to do a few things.
Take a hot shower to wash off the rest of the face paint, enjoy some pizza and watch Sports Center to remind himself that Kansas lost, too.