When you watch the University of Missouri football games online this season you will be viewing a new addition to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Mizzou officially joined the conference on July 1, 2012. It ended a 105-year relationship with the original Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The move is not without its controversy since many believe it was done for economic reasons such as the lucrative television money that the SEC experiences each season. Another point is that technically Missouri is not a southern school and the SEC is a football conference deeply encrusted with southern traditions. The question comes up is can the Missouri Tigers bring its own view of tradition that will fit well with its new conference?
Maybe the only tradition anyone needs to worry about is Mizzou’s traditional managing to field a winning team. The school got its nickname Tigers from the plundering, guerrilla-style marauding pre-Civil War combatants that seemed to pick on small Missouri towns to raid and ravage. “The Missouri Tigers” were formed to act as a home guard to ward off any attacks from marauding raiders. This preparedness gained greater notoriety since the marauding gang never showed once it learned there was an active, organized opposition to it.
When the university formed its first football team in 1890, the steering committee chose the nickname Tigers to honor these groups of volunteer citizens that nearly a half-century ago defended their homeland. Tradition also has spilled over to the naming of the university mascot – “Truman the Tiger.” The mascot was named for Harry S. Truman, Missouri native and former president of the United States. Truman not only performs at all home-based athletic events, but travels throughout the state making appearances at schools, county fairs hospitals and other establishments.
Truman has been named the “Best Mascot in the Nation” twice in the last eight years.