COLUMBIA — Downtown Columbia was littered with Alabama fans Saturday, in noticeable proportion to the number of Missouri fans. Wandering through downtown, we chatted up the crimson-clad to see what brought them to mid-Missouri.
A 'Bama bachelor party
An Alabama bachelor and 25 of his friends brought their party to Columbia.
John Davis, the 26-year-old groom, decided to travel over 600 miles and turn the Missouri vs. Alabama football game into his bachelor party.
"Babe alert!" members of the party, clad in crimson, yell from atop Campus Bar and Grill to the females walking in downtown Columbia.
The devout Alabama fans found Missouri lacking SEC pride and the Columbia atmosphere to be a little lame.
Stuart Wallace, 26, grew up traveling to Alabama away football games. He uses Ole Miss as an example of a team that isn't as good as Alabama, but still has pride.
"The SEC is all about pride," Wallace said. "Every other team in the SEC thinks they're going to win. But we come to Missouri, and they're backing down."
Joseph Braswell, 26, looks at the busy but not crowded downtown and asks, "Where is everybody?" Wallace responds with a message to Columbia football fans.
"We need the Missouri Tigers to step up, make this city hopping, and say 'We're in the SEC. It's football time,'" Wallace said.
Though Davis' wedding isn't until January, the groom saw welcoming Missouri into the SEC as a good party. But the wedding won't see a Roll Tide theme.
"There's no need to bring in any more Alabama," Davis said. "That's what the party's about."
Fans 'by birth'
Stephen Watts, 66, and Andrew Torber, 56, have traveled to every Alabama game this season. Torber has not missed an Alabama game, home or away, since 2006 when he didn't make it to Arkansas because of a family illness.
The friends from Birmingham, Ala., describe themselves as Alabama fans "by birth."
A family that expected a good game
Joey Viselli, 44, purchased Missouri vs. Alabama tickets for himself and his family six months ago, anticipating a good game.
"This was going to be one of the three big games on Alabama's schedule that was going to challenge the team," Viselli said. "Missouri is a little bit down now, but this should, and it will be in the future, a big game."
Viselli is a 1990 Alabama graduate, and his wife, Jill, is an Alabama fan by marriage.
"Being a 'Bama fan was written into our wedding vows," Jill jokes.
The family, including children Jenevieve, 11, and Joe, 14, traveled almost seven hours from Indianapolis for the game Saturday.
A family divided
Trip Meade, 42, bites into a slice of Shakespeare's pizza. Across the table sits his father-in-law Dennis Bryant wearing a Missouri hat.
Dennis Bryant attended MU in the '60s, and Meade is an Alabama native. As for Meade's sons Drew, 12, and Will, 10, "They sided with their daddy," Meade said.
They now all reside in the Kansas City area.
Supervising editor is Frank Russell.