COLUMBIA — With just over an hour to go until kickoff on his first game day as Missouri’s chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin stepped out alone from underneath the shade of Memorial Stadium’s south bleachers and back into sunshine.
He found a line of fans awaiting entry into Saturday’s game against South Dakota State. Loftin began at the front, shaking hands and posing for pictures.
“This is a thank you day for me,” said Loftin, wiping the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief.
He had just taken a stroll around Faurot Field — the turf of which climbed above 100 degrees Saturday. But there Loftin was in a coat (black on the outside, gold on the inside) and bow tie — the look, coupled with the thick, white mustache and round-rimmed spectacles that has become his trademark during his seven months in Columbia.
“This is my game-day attire,” said Loftin, who wore a different colored jacket the last time he watched college football in town. That was in November when the Tigers hosted Texas A&M, where Loftin was president.
He woke at 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
“Which is unusual,” he said, “except for today."
He has a self-drawn itinerary on game days. “My patterns,” he calls them.
Before the game, he visits with fans camped all around. He spends the game’s first quarter in his suite, which at Memorial Stadium is nestled in the southeast corner.
“Most of the guests there are with my deans,” Loftin said. “So I’ll greet them, make sure they’re happy.”
At halftime, he likes to be down by the field to watch the marching band. He hangs around to visit with the student fan section and says hello to cheerleaders and members of the band.
For the fourth quarter, he heads back to his suite to say goodbye to the guests.
“Then, I always like to go to the locker room at the end of the game and hear the coach’s speech, listen to what they say — win or lose — about the game,” he said. “I just stay in the back of the room, out of sight. I don't want to be any way intrusive.
“The coach’s speech is always, to me, an interesting one of character and how they conduct themselves in either defeat or victory. I just want to hear that speech.”
Much of his game-day procedures from Texas A&M won’t change in Columbia, he said. On Saturday, he thought of one noticeable difference from his days in College Station, Texas. He mentioned one of Kyle Field’s famed traditions: the pregame procession of the university’s Corps of Cadets.
“My wife rode in with the cavalry,” Loftin said, “and I picked up horse crap after her with a shovel to symbolize what I do.”
He voluntarily joined the students in the scooping, despite some nay-saying from his inner circle.
"Nice not to deal with horse crap here?" he was asked.
“No, I thought that was important,” he said. “People think my job is glamorous, but it’s not. I pick it up every day.”
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.