KANSAS CITY- The intense heat brooding between Missouri and Kansas fans was the only thing that might have warmed up an otherwise brutally-cold night outside of Arrowhead Stadium prior to Saturday’s game.
And there was plenty of heat.
Hatred might seem like a strong word to use among these two fan bases, but it was fitting on this day to describe the atmosphere at the stadium’s east parking lot. No Kansas or Missouri fan was safe to even walk by each other without absorbing some sort of verbal jab.
Kansas fans were, at times, simply booed by droves of Missouri fans. Others received less cordial phrases thrown their way.
“This rivalry is so huge and the game means so much that things like that have to be said,” MU senior Ryan Oswald said.
The sparring started as early as 8 a.m. Saturday morning when the lots opened for the ESPN College GameDay broadcasts.
As has become a trademark of GameDay, there were plenty of hand-made signs from both the MU and KU fans that made pokes at the other’s school. Some were light-hearted (“Mangino hearts cupcakes”), others were unoriginal (“Pick a good one Chase”) and a few may have taken it just a bit too far (“Quantrill for president”).
HEAD GEAR: That Lee Corso is quite the trickster.
Corso, a former college football coach and current analyst on ESPN’s College GameDay, played with the minds of hundreds of Missouri fans who made it out to Arrowhead Stadium early Saturday morning for the live broadcast.
At the end of each show, Corso predicts the winner of the game by putting on the costume head of the school’s mascot. In the middle of the broadcast, Corso said that Kansas has a better offense and defense than the Tigers, eliciting cheers from the KU faithful and boos from the MU fans.
Just before the unveiling of the pick an hour later, Corso looked back toward the MU fans and yelled, ”Missouri, you can’t beat Kansas!” Then he bent down below the desk and returned wearing Truman the Tiger’s head gear and screaming, “You guys have no chance!” to the KU fans.
JAYHAWK ROADKILL: Derek Hawkins dragged a stuffed Jayhawks mascot on a makeshift leash near a parking entrance to Arrowhead. Scores of MU?fans relished slowly running over the mascot called Big Jay, flashing Hawkins a big smile or hearty thumbs-up.
Hawkins, 27, and his friends parked in the grass just past Gate 3 on the north side of the stadium. The 2004 MU graduate first planned to hang Big Jay from a noose. But since he was next to the long train of vehicles inching their way into the vast parking lot, Hawkins decided to murder the mascot in a more prolonged way.
“He’s not going to make it much longer,” said Hawkins, dangling the increasingly two-dimensional bird.
Big Jay’s innards — white stuffing — were spilling out of his stomach. Tire marks were visible on his yellow beak and feet. MU fans lined up to run over Big Jay. Some even switched lanes.
“I like when the heavy cars run over him,” Hawkins said.
The Kansas City resident felt a twinge of guilt when he bought the mascot Wednesday.
“I paid money to support Kansas. It’s sad, isn’t it?” he said.
Hawkins chatted with fans while they crept by in traffic. He was sympathetic to Kansas fans, letting them weave out of their mascot’s way. Some sporting blue joked around with Hawkins, revving their engines and speeding toward him so he could meet the same fate as Big Jay.
“Hey you, why don’t you trade places with that Jayhawk?” one fan yelled.