SHREVEPORT, La. — The Independence Bowl trophy took a tumble during a photo opportunity with Truman the Tiger. The crystal bowl that sits atop it fell to the concrete floor and shattered after the Missouri mascot’s fumble.
It turned out OK — a local jeweler stepped up with a replacement — but it’s safe to assume that Missouri running backs coach Brian Jones won’t be asking Truman to teach his players about ball security any time soon.
Asked minutes after the incident what happened, Truman confirmed he broke the trophy (by nodding — mascots don’t talk), and threw his paws in the air in despair. Then, he covered his eyes with his paws, indicating that he was as sorry as a college student in a Tiger suit could possibly be.
However, there was no truth to the rumor that the Tiger cried felt tears after the game.
His punishment came in the form of pushups. Over 100 of them. The Missouri offense rolled over North Carolina during the game.
Independence Bowl spokesman Patrick Meehan said MU "probably won’t have to pay," for the trophy, but could not confirm.
Shreveport loves its bowl game
The Independence Bowl is also Shreveport’s only remaining sporting event that is above the high school level. The Shreveport-Bossier Captains, a minor league baseball team, have relocated to Laredo, Texas. The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs hockey team also closed up shop after the 2011 season. On its website, it says, “Thanks for the Memories.”
The Independence Bowl is just about all Shreveport has left.
Shreveport natives Brent Sell and Mike Morales took cover from a cold rain under an LSU tent Monday afternoon as they tailgated with their families, and shared that sentiment.
“We’ve always supported the Independence Bowl,” Sell said. “Doesn’t matter who plays in it. It’s college football; it doesn’t get any better.”
Of course, the opportunity to get out and have a good time helps bring the local residents out as well.
“Louisiana likes to eat and Louisiana likes to party,” Sell said. “Out here we can do both.”
The exodus of professional sports from Shreveport had one tailgater very disappointed, though.
“It’s sad,” Bonsall Sparks said. “People just don’t buy tickets, even though the teams are good. At least we still have the bass fishermen classic.”
Sparks will follow his teams out of the city in September, when the GM plant that he works at will shut down. He said he’s planning on relocating to Arlington, Texas, from Shreveport, where he’s lived for 30 years.
Tigers welcome Tigers
There was a smattering of Missouri gold and North Carolina blue around the parking lots of Independence Stadium, but the most common color was LSU purple.
LSU took out an ad in the Shreveport Times saying, “Welcome to the SEC.” The text of the ad read “From the LSU Tigers to the Missouri Tigers, good luck in the 2011 AdvoCare Independence Bowl.”
“We're looking forward to having Missouri in the SEC,” Sell said. “Should be a good time.”